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Photographers pass new video journalism trial

Five press photographers who recently sat their National Certificate Examination have taken part in a new video journalism exam trial.

The quintet were asked to illustrate a story on the rising cost of fuel by shooting a video for a newspaper website.

It had to be between three and five minutes long, self-contained and include at least one interview with audio recorded to a professional standard.

The five trainees had four weeks to complete their videos, which were submitted for marking at the NCE. The video and audio package had to be shot entirely by themselves and certified as their own work by their editors.

Chief photography examiner Steve Phillips said: “Four of the five candidates passed the video exam producing a good standard of work which would grace any newspaper website.

“The board believes it is vital for press photographers and photo-journalists to be able to shoot video in a creative way for the web.

“Videos must be much more than talking heads to compete with the rest of the media and photographers who already have high visual skills are ideally placed to produce high quality footage for their publications.”

Although the videos were marked, they did not count towards the regular NCE exam this time round. It is expected the video element will form an official part of future NCEs run by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

The group joined five other trainees who sat the regular NCE photography exam at Sheffield College which two candidates passed – The Sentinel’s Wesley Webster and Katie Lunn, of the Scunthorpe Telegraph.


Emma (04/12/2008 12:53:31)
It is so encouraging to see new talent being nurtered in this way.

Unhappysnapper (07/12/2008 15:09:46)
I am a NCTJ qualified press photographer but I flatly refuse to shoot any video of any kind or be sent on any courses to learn how to! A stills photographer and a video journalist are two completely different disciplines. I’ve seen how a 90-second video clip can take literally ALL day to produce: the travelling, the shooting, the editing, and the voice over work etc. It seems far too much effort to end up with very little at the end. If newspapers (my own included) want video reports for their websites then they can employ full-time video journalists on full-time salaries to do the job, rather than expect their photographers and reporters to do it for free on-top of their own already hectic workloads!

Snapper (10/12/2008 11:45:36)
I would like to comment on the way this exam was marked. I took part in the exam and found it very unfair on marking, I have an ND in video so I do know something about producing videos. I have never had any interview training, the marking was based on lighting and sound quality, we are not TV crews, we don’t have lorry loads of equipment and time to make these videos; most photographers have had this forced upon them by their companies. I have been led to understand the videos that were submitted were viewed on a large screen, the videos we produce for work web sites are only required to be of low quality to fit on the web. I was told that my video lacked news interest despite using the same subject as the double page spread and passing. The story I used was featured highly on the BBC news and the One show with similar shots to what were in my video. Video making employs different skills set to a still photographer.

Unhappysnapper (10/12/2008 19:34:17)
Exactly Snapper! A stills photographer is a different kettle of fish to producing video. I’ve been asked numerous times by my Pic Ed to go on courses and even take video cameras out on jobs so I can film as well as photograph but like I said, I refuse to. I won’t be forced into doing extra work that a) I don’t get paid for b) only gets seen by a handful of people online and c) have no interest in anyway. I’m a Press Photographer… Not a film maker!

Mark R (14/12/2008 17:48:44)
well they have just lost all credibility, by insisting that Photographers are re-trained in to attempting to produce video to compete with a TV crew using a cotton bobbing and vinegar and brown paper.
A broadcast quality Microphone with shock housing costs more than the Entire video equipment budget of these national groups put together, many are even been asked to buy their own video camera. why not re train photographers to drive the vans that deliver the papers and combine it with the Diary work ?

Keith in Spain (19/12/2008 22:31:44)
Both of you have very valid points. As a child I loved photography and as a teenager I wanted to make movies but had to go to North America to study Film as there was nothing worth talking about on offer in the UK.
When I returned to the UK I was comfortable with writing, interviewing, audio, presenting and even taking a photograph. In fact, I was too talented for my own good as most editors wondered why I wanted to take photos when I had a video & radio background! The BBC were one of the worst culprits at this time!
Here in Spain there are very few professional Photographers who can shoot video, and vice-versa. However, on occasion I’ve been asked to shoot both at an event, press conference etc, which can be very difficult to do and one or the other always suffers.
Mark R is right on the mark. Video is not only moving pictures, correctly exposed, in focus and well composed and thought out ahead of time (if possible) for edit points but audio is a HUGE part of video production and it’s usually difficult to try and do both.
Photography is all about timing, being in the right place at a the right time and for the press, sometimes shooting off as many images as possible while the action happens.
Although they are two visual mediums, I think if the NTCJ want to produce photojournalists who can produce photo and video, they should teach this as a separate course and not ‘require’ photographers to try and ‘bluff’ their way with a different skill they they may not have any skill, feel nor aptitude for.
If the Newspapers want to produce professional video for their web sites and not just poor quality Mobile Phone handheld situation video, then they should pay for videographers and not expect Photographers to do both.
Then again, for those of us that can do both, we do make ourselves more employable, so maybe it is worth learning how to shoot video, as a pastime, just incase!