Daniel Haggett

London based Lighting Cameraman / DoP

Every now and again somebody hits the nail on the head, somehow they manage to explain an idea, that would take me ages to explain, in one pithy little line.  This is from Twitter:


vince gaffney ?@gaffneyfilm
Hey, you, bokeh guy. Instead of worrying about how pretty the out of focus crap is, worry about what the in focus parts are saying. Thx.


I thought this was hilarious, but also sums up a lot about current trends in the world of film and TV.


Sometimes we can get a bit obsessed with camera gear and techy stuff, maybe everyone is guilty of this from time to time.  Vimeo is clogged full of people obsessing over whether this lens performs better than that lens, but I wonder how many people outside the film and tv world actually notice or care about these things.  When DSLRs first arrived on the scene I just couldn't believe how something so small and cheap could create such images.  I remember filming my niece playing in the snow with my new camera and a 50mm prime.  There were shots filmed in slow motion of the warm air drifting from her mouth, shots where her eyes were pin sharp, but depth of field was so shallow that even her hair had a lovely softness to it.  I remember plugging my new camera into a large HD screen to see the results.   My family stood around to watch, did they gasp in amazement at this small camera that could shoot crystal clear HD images, were they stunned by the shallow depth of field like I was?  Of course not, they saw a little girl playing in the snow.  


The internet is awash with people (mainly men I imagine) chatting about the minutiae of cameras, lenses and gear in general, and I am one of them.  It is good to know about the gear that you are using, and what is out there that can help you to work better.  An almost obsessive attention to detail is something common to most cameramen I think, and this can be very useful at times, especially when you are always pushing to get a better shot, or make a scene more visually interesting.  However, what the tweet above is getting at is that this almost fetishisation of camera gear shouldn't come at the expense of the bit that matters, the bit that is "in focus", the bigger picture.


As I look through my blog post, I realise they are all incredibly techy, talking about every detail of camera kit.  As an antidote to this, I have decided to write a few pieces about inspiration, odds and ends from films, books, photography anything that inspires the cameraman.