Amy Bowers - TV Talk
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Look at the cameraman, wave to the cameraman, what channel are you?
Ladies and Women, my spellcheck lists the correct spelling for "camerawoman" as "c-a-m-e-r-a-m-a-n." The generic gender of TV news photography is definitely male. But when I shot TV news, I was not deterred.
Twenty years of hauling around my mini-cam did not exactly showcase my femininity. Instead, it allowed me to get in touch with my Inner Newspuke: aggressive, physically tough, and very competitive. No matter that I was semantically un-selected at the assignment desk: We need a cameraman, hire a cameraman, which cameraman do you want? (Hey!!! what about me!!!???) I toughened up, I did good work, I endured.
At WCVB-TV in Boston, I objected to being called "the sweet young thing" by our assignment editor Paul Toomey. I asked him to drop the adjectives, without considering what would happen when he thoughtfully agreed, and called me the "thing."
I wish I had a photo of myself at WBZ in 1975, hair cut in a long shag, CP-16 film camera on shoulder, wearing a flowered, polyester blouse, boy's jeans, and carpenter-style work boots. This was my getup in Boston, where the sisterhood of newsfilm photographers in local television was a circle of one. I could really have used a role model.
I was strong enough to deal with the heavy equipment and felt comfortable with my rig. But, I dressed like I was ready for a scuffle: pockets buttoned, shoes double-knotted, hi-top sneakers or work boots, battle bra. At the end of the day, I was a "puke" with a sore shoulder and a challenged lower back. Womanly didn't have much to do with it. I drank bourbon with the boys, and occasionally brought one of them home.
Sworn in as a "union man" at my initiation into I.B.E.W. Local 1228, I pledged to "brotherhood." I saw the world as a woman, but never felt delicate out there on the street. With the camera on my shoulder and a spare Nicad battery adding a few pounds, clipped to my "sissy-belt," my sense of self was not very feminine. I'm not sure where my "Inner Girl" resided, but I kept her tucked away most of the time.
Here are some of the ways my Inner Girl was buried by my Outer Newspuke:
GET IN TOUCH:
Ladies and News Photogs, the TV news gear is still heavy, and the pace
is more demanding than in my day. I think most of us can get better
jobs as show producers or managers. If you do work as a TV camerawoman,
please let me know how your Inner Girl expresses herself. Meanwhile,
I'm going to look for my Outer News Babe somewhere between New Mexico