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.

-- See average salaries for a news photographer, camera operator, and an assistant editor.

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."

Great advice.

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.

Next: Trade Secrets: Behind The Scenes of Reality Television >>

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October 11 2011 at 5:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I saw the word "mobster", I figured he'd found Geraldo down there. Guess I got the wrong mobster.

May 10 2010 at 6:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Uh, Melies'me? Where did it say the adult site was in his basement? The article said it was in his home -DUH! reread the article yourself again
"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."

May 10 2010 at 3:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mr. W. Love your lifestyle as it was mine too for over 25 yrs. Worked as an independent contractor for the travel industry as travel agent, ground ops for cruise lines, tour guide, concierge for hotel ops, etc. anything travel related including a cruise line that went belly up one month after operations that I help assimilate legal correspondents in the event of litigation. You are so right, put the money aside for dry spells like right now. Wouldn't have traded it for the world, hours, sometimes the pay and the strain but it was fun & I loved it.

May 10 2010 at 2:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

please read the article again. the basement was used as an adult video site-duh

May 09 2010 at 11:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So what the heck was in the basement??? Sooooooooo typical of AOL news. Comes on with a strong snag line.....then nothing. Idiots. Guess what was found in the trunk of my neighbors car today? Well....gotta go trim my toe nails now.

May 09 2010 at 11:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What the heck didhe find in the basement ???????

May 09 2010 at 11:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Alice's comment
Carol Stout

The only thing that I can think of that he might have found in the basement was the complete setup for the adult site that the mobster was running from his home. There could have been lots of kinky paraphernalia etc. there for that. If it wasn't that then what was it?

May 09 2010 at 11:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As a fellow broadcast freelancer, I could not agree more with the points covered in this article. The peaks and valleys are exactly that. It has taken me years to come to grips with this particular hurdle. In addition, one of the few things I miss, having chosen the freelance lifestyle, is the Thursday night onset of that sweet "Friday" feeling. Since I spend most of my "local" time working either broadcast sports, entertainment or the occasional corporate gig, the concept of heading home with a free weekend is totally foreign to me. Thankfully, so is swiping an ID to get into an office building. My camera and sound recording career has taken me around the globe to places and situations I NEVER imagined I would find myself. Unfortunately when I witness, read or hear of able bodied people on the public dole It angers me to no end that as a person who is self employed I am forced into paying a" self employment" tax, FICA, etc. . ..In the end, I would not trade the path I have chosen for any other that I am aware of. But I am sick of any and all who are able bodied and collecting unemployment because they think that an honest day of work, perhaps at a lower pay scale than they might once have earned, is somehow beneath them. They are as guilty of fraud as those who overspend and then call those toll free numbers that will supposedly help them rid themselves of the credit card debts and financial debris they have managed to ring up. Hoping those will reap exactly what they sow.

May 09 2010 at 10:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"`Nobody knows the trouble he's seen,...`"
Don't worry, they'll replace you with a robot.

May 09 2010 at 7:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jim witterstaetter

I agree totally about the whole whining thing"there isn't work out there , no one will hire me" bullcrap!!If you want to honestly work you will work honestly,if you want something in life you have to work harder than the next guy to get what you if you want it bad enough you will have ,it all depends on how bad you want it Jim Witterstaetter Palm Coast ,FL.

May 09 2010 at 6:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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