Posted by Floyd Diebel 12 Comments

First Assistant Camera

A couple weeks ago I was throwing together a quick shoot for a client’s ad; just a simple overhead still shot with a couple of lights and a little camera rigging. No crew, and I was in a hurry.

Ken was my First Assistant Cameraman for a little over 10 years. I think he was 79 when I met him.

While rigging the camera I got distracted and dropped it. I’ve never, ever, ever dropped a camera like that before. It was like a perfect storm of being in a hurry, making small mistakes, and general inattentiveness that led to my dropping the camera and yeah, it broke. I think a circuit board jostled loose or something. Sad day.

This made me miss Ken.

Ken was my First Assistant Camera for a little over 10 years. I think he was 79 when I met him, and he was still freelancing on shoots whenever he could. Still lugging camera gear around. Still chasing after girls on set. Still being generally awesome. He had a photographic career spanning back to the days of dye-transfer printing, and always had a story or anecdote for any given situation. Nine times out of ten, I’d call for a lens change and he’d have already predicted it, standing next to the camera holding the lens with a smug smile. Best AC ever.

Ken passed away last year, and I miss him a lot.

Peering over his glasses, he would have said “Dibble, you know better than this.”

I can picture his reaction to me dropping the camera; he would have pulled his glasses down slightly past the bridge of his nose, looked up at me over the top of the frames, and gently sighed while saying “Dibble, you know better than this.”

I don’t know why but he always called me Dibble, even though my last name is pronounced nothing like that. I never argued.

So yeah, my camera’s broken. I spent the rest of the day feeling like an idiot, while simultaneously reminiscing about all the good shoots I had working with Ken. Weird to think that breaking my camera forced me to slow down for a second and remember a good friend.

The camera might be broken, but I still have my memories of Ken. I’ll take that.


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