BBC cameraman Christian Parkinson tells all in his new e-book – Camera Confidential

UPDATE, January 2016: Since this article was published Christian has rewritten and updated the book and is now selling it at the following URL: https://gumroad.com/l/cameraconfidential

Guest post by Christian Parkinson:

photo-3 copy

I’ve just published a new book about working as a TV news and documentary shooter. Camera Confidential is for image makers who love to tell stories. No matter what you call yourself – cameraman, video journalist, shoot/edit, multimedia journalist, backpack journalist, SoJo, photog, shooter, photojournalist, video producer or visual journalist – this book will have something for you.

It draws on my experiences as a cameraman, editor and video journalist for the BBC, which I joined 12 years ago after starting out as a trainee at ITN News. I’ve covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Libya, the DRC and Gaza. I spent four years with the BBC Africa bureau and have been lucky enough to work with some of the best correspondents and producers in the world.

Filming in Helmund province, Afghanistan.
Filming in Helmund province, Afghanistan.

Camera Confidential is also the product of numerous interviews with media colleagues: people like four times Royal Television Society cameraman of the year Darren “DC” Conway, former Sky News cameraman turned filmmaker Phillip Bloom and others from around the world including experienced reporters and security advisors.

Working as a cameraman or video journalist in news is one of the toughest but also one of the most satisfying jobs in the world. The years you spend shooting news and telling stories will stand you in excellent stead for any other challenge within the industry. I think Philip Bloom said it well when he told me – “I learnt from some amazing cameramen at Sky news. I knew nothing when I started. News cameramen work fast, think fast and react fast. I would always prefer to work with someone from a news background. You can always spot them. I would love to see the cameramen who look down on news shooters try it for a week! To create quality images under immense pressure is testament to the quality of people out there.”

Camera Confidential is not about the technical side of video journalism. It doesn’t explain white balancing, the difference between CCD and CMOS sensors or different camera specs – I’ll leave that to the guys here at Newsshooter. Instead, this is the book I wish somebody had given to me when I started shooting many years ago. It will answer questions such as: How do I find my first job? What paperwork do I need to complete when travelling with kit? What gear should I carry in a war zone? How should I protect my camera when shooting in the desert/snow/jungle? How do I shoot an anonymous interview?

Filming a volcano in Congo
Filming a volcano in Congo

All the proceeds from the book go to charity  I never set out to make any money from it and so I jumped at the chance to publish it in partnership with the Rory Peck Trust. Why the Rory Peck Trust? I am in the fortunate position of being full-time staff with the BBC, but often I see freelancers producing amazing work in risky situations. The Trust helps by offering training bursaries, grants and also support to freelancers who are in a crisis or been injured. With all the major conflicts and disasters ongoing worldwide I think it is more important than ever to support the Rory Peck Trust. Even if you decide that this book isn’t for you, please do have a look at their website and consider supporting their great work.

You can buy Camera Confidential for £4.99 via the Rory Peck Trust website here.

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