See that dude dressed like a homeless man standing in the corner mumbling? Not the actual homeless guy, the one whispering sweet nothings to his tripod. No, he’s not hopped up on Angel Dust, but you really don’t want to hear his story.
A couple weeks ago, his video went to shit. Formerly rock-solid video began to wobble like it was shoulder-shot by Michael J. Fox on ship’s deck in high seas. Images that were once crisp and became muddy and soft. His wide shots are too tight. His tight shots are too wide.
I’ve got good news. He won’t have to see a doctor for a little blue pill.
The cure comes from NFL Films photog, motivational speaker, mentor, and all around good guy John Gross.
I met John at the National Press Photographers Association Video Boot Camp back in 2000. It wasn’t long before John had me whispering to my sticks.
See, as an NFL Films hot-shot, John gets to rub elbows with some of the worlds best athletes at the top of their game. And something rubbed off. One thing he says almost all successful athletes have in common is self-speak. They incessantly talk to themselves.
Not the psychotic ramblings of the wild-haired dude in the Superman cape and tu-tu, but it’s purpose is the same: to save them from becoming just another face in the crowd. To protect them from the slump. To take their game to the next level.
So, what is this magic phrase? When I first started reading from the gospel of John, mine were “Rock solid and on the sticks.” “Wide, medium, tight, super-tight.” “Sequence. Sequence. Sequence.” “Action-reaction.” “Capture the moment.” “Shoot with your ears.”
All, not-so-subtle reminders of what it takes to raise a story from a simple news report to something people remember.
It’s been almost 13 years since John agreed to act as my mentor. And I still use his self-talk phrases today. As a matter of fact, that dude talking to his tripod is me.