The Digital Journalist
"Get In Touch With
Your Inner Girl"
By Amy Bowers
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:
ONE OF THE BOYS
I thought feminine meant vulnerable, and shooting
news meant tough. I was seldom bothered by anyone
when I put all my consciousness into my TV camera.
People noticed the camera, not me.
I put on my game face, which was not sweet. I had
attitude. This snap was taken in a boxing gym in
Mexico City, 1985. No place for girls, but the right
place for a camera-, um, man (?) from CBS Sports.
I never called myself a "cameraperson," because
people only used that term for women anyhow, so
they might as well have called us "camerawomen."
The British lads called me a "lady cameraman."
Girl is not important. Director Don Roy King knows
my name but when we are on the air, I am "Easy zoom
in, Camera One."
NICE RAIN SUIT
Here I am in my rain suit with producer Paulette
Douglas, in Southern California. It's hard to feel
like a Babe while wearing impermeables, plus a 30-volt
battery belt designed for pot-bellied cameramen.
The only time the belt didn't slip down over my
hips was when I was pregnant.
LIKE IT: AMY OF THE DESERT
Here I'm working on my tan at a Space Shuttle landing
at Edwards Air Force Base, looking semi-fab. My
Inner Girl is visible through the outer one. I find
the desert very liberating.
If I always looked like this on assignment, I probably
would never have stopped shooting. This picture
was taken near Ground Zero at Nevada Test Site,
a nuclear test site. My Inner Girl was probably
being irradiated while my Outer Girl had a great
My Biological Clock alarmed my Inner Girl when I
was in my early thirties, so I enlisted my partner
in a Special Project, resulting in our family. Ladies,
here's that Pumpkin Patch where babies come from!
If you shoot while you're pregnant, you can use
your belly as an armrest.
You can also puke from morning sickness on the way
to assignments. But since you're already a newspuke,
no one will notice, as long as your video isn't
Ah, a sweet result of the Special Project. This
kid has role models!
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 and Paradise.
© Reprinted with the author's permission from
The Digital Journalist 2000