Confessions of a Freelance Cameraman
How do you handle a video shoot that involves famous people, a star of the adult film industry, and some contraptions you have never seen before? For freelance videographer Lincoln Wiese, it is all just another day's work with Howard Stern.
Wiese started his career on the editorial side of the news world, working as an assignment editor for News 12 Long Island. But he always liked shooting video and admired the news photographers. He did what all people who wind up doing what they love do: He worked his way into the job.
Wiese started by asking his bosses if he could work in the field; they gave him a job running a satellite truck.
"From there I taught myself how to operate a camera," he said. "And, with much trial and errors, and some darn good video editors, I became a cameraman."
That led to a series of full-time jobs, including one with FX Networks morning show Breakfast Time, which was hosted by Tom Bergeron and Laurie Hibberd. The show featured roving reporters covering events around the country, and Wiese was one of the show's "road warriors."
"The show launched a lot of people's careers," Wiese noted. Among the people he worked with were Suzanne Whang, now of HGTV, John Burke, now on E!, Phil Keoghan, the host of CBS's The Amazing Race, and Jeff Probst, the host of CBS's Survivor.
"Some of my memorable moments on those live remotes include sky diving in Tennessee, changing a light bulb on top of the Verrazano Bridge, and washing windows on the 90th floor of the World Trade Center."
After years of full-time gigs, Wiese worked for a company that went under -- and that is when he decided to become a freelancer.
Adventures on the job
That decision led to a string of amazing jobs that have taken him all over the world, shooting everything from fashion models in Europe to covering war zones in the Middle East.
What does he consider his most dangerous job assignment ever?
"A trip to the Middle East in 2003. It was very tense, and one must stay focused being an American in that region," he said. "In Jordan, we were once surrounded by irate Iraqi refugees and escaped only because we said we were Canadian journalists."
One of his most bizarre assignments was for the Howard Stern show.
"A mobster who was under house arrest had set up a live Internet adult site in his home. We went to his home to shoot him while Howard was on the air interviewing him. What a set-up."
Life of a freelancer
While Wiese has had many incredible assignments, he has some advice for anyone who wants to make a living as a freelancer.
"The most difficult part of freelancing is coming to understand the peaks and valleys of work," he said. "Lots of times I might work two weeks straight but then have five days off in a row. It's also smart to have a few months salary stashed away for the lean times. Freelancing is not a job, it's a lifestyle. It's not 9-5 in an office. It is maybe working weekends, holidays, bad weather days, and bizarre hours. Therefore the utmost important thing is to love what you do in life so much that you want to do it whenever called upon."
Adding to his portfolio of work experience, Wiese is now also partnering with Travelhawk Media, a new travel and lifestyle public relations firm founded by an Emmy award-winning travel correspondent.
The work will continue to have him traveling around the world, but probably without angry mobs or imprisoned mobsters.
Geoff Roth is a 30-year veteran of the TV news business. He has hired hundreds of people and counseled both professionals and students as they hunt for jobs. Geoff is chronicling life after TV News at www.nomoredeadlines.com.
He was part of the original staff of CNN when it started up in 1980, and has worked for national and local news organizations across the country as everything from a writer to News Director. He is now rounding out his career as an Assistant Professor in the journalism department at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.