Door knocks have long been part of journalism.
Whether it’s the dreaded ‘’death knock’’ or confronting somebody who has been on the wrong side of perceived morality, ”fronting up’’ people is important in order to give them a right of reply.
Part of that process is getting a picture of them. This has traditionally involved a photographer lurking nearby while a reporter knocks their door, or confronts them when they leave their workplace or some other building.
But could Go-Pros hidden on the body of a reporter replace the photographer?
One of the most difficult parts of a door knock is ensuring a photographer can position themselves correctly in order to get a clear shot of the target.
This is usually by sitting in their car several yards away. This is easy enough if there’s a clear view of the door opening.
But there have been all manner of techniques used over the years by innovative hacks to get around tricky positions.
One such trick was knocking on the door of the person and telling them you had clipped a car on their driveway, or the one parked outside of their home.
They would charge outside into view and the photographer could snap away.
Another more audacious method – used in the 1990s when people were less cynical – was knocking on the door and telling the person they had won a competition for a crate of beer.
The reporter, claiming to be from some publication – or even their actual paper – would tell them to pose for a picture while the photographer would get clear shots of them.
If they were grinning broadly, this of course could become part of the story. Audacious, certainly, and I can confirm this has been used more than a handful of times.
But of course there is always room for human error with photographers – sunlight ruining the shot, batteries finishing, phones going off, lack of concentration… the list could go on.
Plus it isn’t always possible to have the resources to mobilise not just the reporter, but also a photographer.
And for newspapers, paying a freelancer or agency photographer only adds to their costs.
Enter the GoPro
Now, it doesn’t have to be a GoPro. There are dozens of different models that are far cheaper and compatible in quality.
But the concept is the same. Load the mini action sports camera somewhere onto the reporter performing the knock.
It could be concealed in the breast pocket of their suit or jacket, or inside the handbag.
With a clear view, the wide-angle lens on many action cams will get a clear shot of the target.
It will also be high-resolution, making it suitable for print.
Plus, as it will be recording video this is perfect for using online as part of a good news story package.
The one downside is that it won’t be a perfectly composed photograph, as a professional snapper would get.
But a GoPro will get close up, and pick out the features of the person.
Does it work?
I can confirm that I’ve tested out this method of a handful of jobs recently and the images have been used.
Will this technique replace photographers? I don’t know about that. GoPros can be picked up for around 200 quid while other models for as little as 40.
So there’s no harm in reporters developing this technique.