Black hearts and war zones

David Gilkey, photographer, videographer and radio reporter for NPR, visited Mizzou last week.

He’s won numerous awards for his work, and his “Blackhearts” video is simply astounding.

Those bullets? He wore two recorders on his head in the field. “It’s not random noise that’s pulled in because I thought it would be dramatic.”

Other tips the pro offered:

• On using music in NPR stories. “You’re telling somebody what to feel when you add that music in there. You potentially change the tone of what somebody’s saying.”

• On multimedia: “I don’t know what that means anymore.” But…
“It’s about time management. You have to put the camera down or you have to put the recorder down.”

• On quality multimedia: “Audio, audio, audio.” He suggests people run one recorder at high level, one at lower level to capture the range of sounds.

• On relationships: Given an optimal time window, he doesn’t start shooting or recording on the first day. Or the second. “Meet the person, not the subject.”

At the end of the day, working in a war zone is really about safety and discretion:

“Eighty-five percent of this you don’t see and don’t hear. It gets too violent, too crazy. One guy was going over a wall, and he jumped right onto an IED. There’s a pink cloud, and it’s over. There’s a point when pictures become fourth or fifth on the list of things to do.”

© David GIlkey

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