Down in Ballantyne, there’s a standoff going on between the guy who used to own all of Ballantyne Village, and the company that now owns a large portion of it. After a foreclosure, Bob Bruner now only owns the parking garage and two lots, while MV Ballantyne Village owns the shops and the rest of the parking spaces. This week Bruner, who is suing MV Ballantyne Village and is trying to sell his parking spaces, went out and cemented metal poles into the ground and effectively blocked more than a hundred spaces, which has the people who use Ballantyne Village increasingly peeved. I went down there yesterday to shoot a story for NBC Charlotte, which you can see below:
I shot the entire thing with my iPhone. I asked for a photographer but didn’t get one, and that was actually for the best. While there are stories where having a photographer or even just a full sized camera will work better, in some cases an iPhone should be your first option. Here’s why:
1. Nobody tends to hassle you - We, as a society, are now conditioned to seeing people take pictures and video of anything with their smartphones, no matter how small or inconsequential. I needed pictures and video of parking spots and poles, which on their own are quite boring things. Mashed together, they make a story. But individually, I’m just a guy with a phone taking pictures. That’s quite different than rolling up somewhere with a big camera, a photographer and a microphone. People who own things like malls, shopping centers and whatnot will run you off when they see you show up with a camera in tow. But with an iPhone, you’re just another guy taking shots of random stuff. Yesterday, people left me alone.
2. People are closer to their true selves - I always identify myself before I ask people to talk to me. I say I work for a television station. I’ll show them ID if they ask for it. But in some way, I’m not sure if they believe it. Yeah, right, they think, I’ll believe it when I see the story at six. But people I interview with the iPhone always seem more genuine and relaxed. I think it has something to do with the fact that when people see a camera and a microphone and someone says we’re rolling, they stiffen up. It’s interview time, and I’m being interviewed, they think, so I need to say things that people on TV say. I’ve always found that people talk like people ACTUALLY talk when I’m talking to them for a print or online story. There’s less pretense and there aren’t the lights and the nervousness is gone. You’re just having a conversation. The iPhone’s about as close as I’ve ever gotten to that.
3. It’s portable - I’ve shot at least two other stories almost completely on the iPhone. During the snowstorm earlier this year, I went out and skied through my neighborhood with my dog. The resulting story was fairly simple, and I didn’t even need to go into the newsroom to edit. I put the whole thing together with iMovie and emailed it in:
Before the Democratic National Convention, I took a bike ride around uptown Charlotte. Here, I mounted a GoPro camera to my handlebars but used the iPhone to shoot other b-roll and interviews. I also just happened upon Panthers owner Jerry Richardson walking out of the Bank of America tower. I guarantee you, he wouldn’t have talked to me if I would have shoved a big camera in his face:
Of course, the drawbacks to using the iPhone are plenty. You have no zoom lens. The audio can be shaky (In the first story, I had to run some of my sound through a high pass filter so you could hear it). And when you’ve got time and access, a traditional video camera is always the better choice. But when you’ve only got a half hour, you don’t want to get run off the property and want people to be more honest with you, the solution is right there in your pocket.