March 10, 2005
A rough shoot
It's a piece of advice I've heard television photographers and military personnel receive before they attend long ceremonies where they'll be standing around for long stretches of time. But I didn't remember it until too late.
"Don't lock your knees!"
Yesterday afternoon I went to film the graduation of Accra's police recruits. It was a favor of sorts and gave me a chance to really fool around with my camera in the bright sun here.
The ceremony started at 2pm, outdoors on a huge parade ground. I was joined out on the tarmac by a gaggle of Ghanaian newsmen (no women). As I ran around and sideways and backwards while filming, I wondered how our KRON photographers do it with their huge cameras.
Since my camera is hand-held, one of my (countless) challenges is keeping it steady while shooting. When they started handing out the diplomas, I planted myself in front of the dais and, I guess I locked my knees in an attempt to further steady myself and the camera. The ceremony went on and on and on and on.
It was also a thousand degrees hot with crushing humidity and a blazing sun beating down on us. I was drenched in sweat.
Suddenly, a roar rushed through my ears and the world started spinning. My only thought was to get out of there as soon as possible. I shoved aside the other photographers, and staggered/ran through the ceremony to the back of the stands.
A murmur went up from the crowd. I collapsed under the first tree I could find. Matei, my driver, appeared with a bottle of water and beckoned to a man standing nearby with a heaping platter of coconuts on his head. He pulled one down, chopped off the top with his machete, and bottoms up! Then he chopped it open and had me scoop out the insides with a piece of coconut shell.
Satisfied that I could now walk, I went up to the officers building, hoping to just rest somewhere cool for a while. No such luck.
The ceremony had finished, the dinner reception had begun, and my presence was requested at the head of the VIP table. I was served platters of food. Since it would be rude to refuse the hospitality, I gamely sat in my chair next to the top brass and ate.
Meanwhile, the fufu I'd eaten earlier for lunch was doing what fufu does, and was expanding exponentially in my stomach, sort of like bread dough rising .... and the banquet food kept arriving. I was lapsing into severe food coma. I slumped back in my chair, catatonic. I pasted a big smile on my face (learned it from you, Curt), and remained like that throughout the rest of the evening, until I was excused and staggered out to my car and home.
(more later on "fufu", Ghana's national dish).
Posted by Cathryn Poff at March 10, 2005 10:21 AM
Wow Cath! What an ordeal! And you thought my Iowa graduation was a long ceremony ... at least there you were in an air-conditioned auditorium with seats comfortable enough for napping ...
Seriously, though, I am sure your video will be replayed for years by the participants. What a great thing to do.
Posted by: Chrys at March 10, 2005 7:33 PM
Wow. Take it easy there, Cathryn. We want you back in one piece.
Here's another broadcasting pitfall you might want to avoid:
Several hundred attendees at the Kaiser Family Foundation's
conference yesterday on kids and the media with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton
got a surprise earful before she spoke. Drew Altman, the foundation's
president and CEO, was making introductory remarks when, suddenly, the
unmistakable sound of a toilet flushing could be heard over the loudspeaker
system. The culprit: moderator Jeff Greenfield of CNN, who used the
facilities while wearing his remote microphone. He e-mailed us yesterday:
"After 25 years in the business, you'd think I'd know when to turn a
Posted by: DGU at March 10, 2005 8:13 PM