Photo of commemorative poster distributed on 1.16.12 at the City of Irving's (TX) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. annual observance
I wrapped up the Dr. King holiday by attending the City of Irving's annual program. This year’s theme is "A Living Memorial: The Man, The Message, The Monument."
Written and adapted by Jacqueline Madden, who is special events coordinator at the Irving Parks and Recreation Division, the program focused on the Washington, D.C.-based MLK Memorial.
Attendees received a commemorative poster emblazoned with "LOVE NOT HATE" which aptly captured the sentiment of last night’s program. Madden weaved together vintage and recent King-related video, stellar musical performances by violinist Richmond Punch and vocalist/author Brenda Ellis and more. The program also included speeches and performances by the amazing Dallas Black Dance Theatre II—all designed to educate the audience about Dr. King’s message of "justice, democracy, hope and love."
If you have not attended Irving's MLK program, please put this on your calendar for next year. This was my fourth year to attend Irving's observance and I always leave enlightened and amazed.
Earlier in the day I went to the MLK parade in Dallas and plan to upload a video to the YouTube channel, when it’s edited.
Recently while looking at old photos I was transported back to the days of my first TV news job. Furthermore, I was reminded that both photography and videography have been in my world for years because I started shooting stills as a teenager.
Interviewing Roots author Alex Haley in Memphis, TN. as he teases me about my hat.
Whether taking still photos or shooting video, I have always LOVED capturing images to tell stories, professionally or personally. I don’t know how I got interested in photography.
No one in my immediate family had a camera nor did I take formal photography classes in college. Somehow I got my hands on a still camera (remember 35mm film that had to be developed?) in
Memphis, Tenn. and started snapping away.
Regina L. Burns shooting video for KRBC-TV, Abilene, TX. Photo by David Leeson. Used with Permission.
Pulitzer Prize-winner David Leeson took this photo of me during my Reporter/Videographer stint at KRBC-TV in Abilene, TX.
Leeson worked for the Abilene Reporter-News at the time.
This photo is my personal favorite. I was covering breaking news and remember asking the man in the photo would he please hold my recorder? Holding the heavy camera, wearing the battery pack around my waist and struggling with the recorder slowed me down, especially on breaking news.
So I learned to be creative
and innovative, constantly.
I took lots of pictures of my late father. Daddy never met a stranger and loved to tell stories about growing up in Mississippi. We visited his parents’ graves one year and he enthralled me with tales about chopping cotton and growing up on a farm. I took a picture of Daddy that day and every time I look at it, I am reminded of the enormous strength and courage he and my paternal grandparents had.
Another picture in the family album shows my mother with my late aunt. They were thick as thieves, as the saying goes. I have a photo of Ma Dear in her 20s, taken before I was born. She totally had it going on and knew it. I wish someone had taken pictures of her with my maternal grandparents on the plantation in Arkansas. I respect and admire the fortitude they possessed in order to survive and, I am proud to be their descendant.
One of the toughest TV stories I ever covered was that of a child who had been run over and killed while riding his bicycle. Listening to the police scanner in order to get to breaking news as quickly as possible was part of the job. I arrived on the scene before any other media and even beat the police – that’s how I got the nickname “spot news queen.”
I looked under the truck and saw this small boy, not moving, his bicycle close by. When a colleague arrived on the scene, she told me I had turned green. I never took any footage under the truck.
The camera attracts all kinds
I had an assignment in Anson, Texas and someone in the audience got upset because I was shooting video. Or maybe it was because she hadn’t seen that many African-American journalists. All I know is that she walked up to me and said, “Turn that camera off. You’re shining that light in my eyes.”
I looked at her, turned away and kept shooting. All shooters know that keeping the camera rolling in such situations is always the smart move. I kept doing the job I was sent there for and the lady eventually went back to her seat. My supervisors in the newsroom told me that if anyone ever laid on hand on me, the company would press assault charges against them.
Hanging out with ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings at WFAA-TV, Dallas, TX, Nov. 2003.
Shooting video for KRBC-TV, Abilene, TX. Photo by David Leeson, Used with Permission.
Glory and internal fortitude
In this photo, also taken by Leeson, I was on assignment on the road to “journalism glory,” at least that’s what every young journalist hopes for, right? It’s only later that you learn about the long hours and the necessary internal fortitude required to report breaking news that often includes tragedies.
I did experience “journalism glory” in the form of national awards from NABJ, the former AWRT and regional recognition
from the Tenn. Associated Press
Broadcasters Association, among others.
I am very proud of the numerous college and high school students trained in a broadcast internship program I created and oversaw. Several years ago, I teamed up with fellow Associated Press colleagues in Mississippi and New Orleans. Together we sent old AP Stylebooks to Dallas, TX for an Urban Journalism Workshop, in what I called “Stylebooks for Students.”
How to shoot your own stand up
One trick I learned was to set a light stand in the exact spot where I wanted to shoot my stand up because in a small market, I was a “one-woman band.” That means doing the following: covering the story (reporting), shooting video, then writing the script and voicing the audio track during the editing process. It’s a great way to learn unforgettable skills.
Here’s how I did it:
First, I set the camera on a tripod. Then I stood next to the light stand and raised it to my height. Third, I got back behind the camera and recorded the light stand to ensure the shot would work. Fourth, I checked the tape. Next, I removed the light stand and recorded a couple of stands up, which I edited into the story back at the station.
The trick to being a great “one-woman band” was to shoot just enough video, so the editing process wouldn’t take long.
Notice I used the word “shoot” or a variation several times because that’s what we called it when we took pictures with the camera; we were shooting.
Today I use a digital camera that shoots stills and of course video, and it’s light as a feather.
I wouldn’t take “nothing for my journey” with photography/videography in the exciting and always chaotic world of news.
Marilyn Calhoun, a 14-year breast cancer survivor, shares her triumphant journey in this moving retrospective shot by Regina in August 2011 at Calhoun's Dallas home. We hope it inspires you to act.
To support Marilyn in the 2011 Komen Dallas Race for the Cure® on Oct. 15, go to her personal page. You can also support her team, Walking Partners. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I'm asking you to join me in this effort. Now is the time to get involved with the Komen Dallas Race for the Cure and be a part of something much bigger than you and me. Be a part of our community's commitment to a world without breast cancer," Marilyn urged.