Behind the Camera: Cortney Kintzer

Recently, I was lucky enough to conduct an e-mail interview with my friend’s dad, Cortney Kintzer.

Cortney works as Director of Photography at KCCI-TV here in Des Moines, and he is also a recipient of an Emmy Award for his great work at the station.

Check out my interview with him, where he talks about his love for journalism, how he got into the industry and what aspiring journalists should do to achieve their dream.

How did you get started in journalism?

My dad worked for the Associated Press as a teletype operator, so the CBS Evening News was always on in our house at 5:30 each evening.  When I was in junior high school, I wanted to be a Hollywood movie cameraman, but in watching the news, I thought a career in TV News photojournalism sounded interesting and fun.  I had a home movie camera that I used to carry around, and after awhile, I started showing up at news events and started filming them on my own.  My dad was even able to get me my first press pass, to cover President Gerald Ford’s visit to Iowa in 1974.

Who were influences for your career?

I guess my first influence was my boss at WHO-TV, Lisle Shires.  He was their Chief Photographer and he hired me as a junior at Roosevelt High School (in Des Moines), to work in the station’s film lab.  That was May of 1975.  He taught me how to shoot and edit 16mm color film for the station’s news programs.  I was VERY lucky to get a break at that young age.  As the old saying goes…he taught me all that I know.

What do I enjoy about my job?  I call it the “Ultimate backstage pass to Life”….!  I have been to the White House twice to shoot a one-on-one interview with both President Clinton, and President Obama.  I have been to the Grammy Awards four years in a row to shoot interviews on the Red Carpet, even wore a tux because we had tickets to the show! I also shoot, fires, murders, weather footage, nature stories, interviews, features and live shots.  Every day is a new adventure!

What aspects of your job do you enjoy?

The best part of the job is meeting so many different people, in all lines of work and situations.  I LOVE traveling around rural Iowa and visiting small towns.  Every day is so interesting….I never know what I am going to each day until I come into work.  My shift is M-F, 9:30am until 6pm.  I am “on-call” 24 hours a day.  Sometimes I might get called out of bed at 2am, to shoot a fire or a bad accident.  When the weather is nice, I get to be outside every day shooting….and when the weather is lousy, well, I have a rain cover for my camera to keep it dry, and I just have to dress to keep warm!!!!

What advice would you give to aspiring broadcast journalists?

My advice to aspiring journalists is to call your favorite TV newsroom and ask for a tour, and to shadow a journalist for the day.

What is it like in the KCCI studio?

Our job at News Channel 8 is to keep the community informed about what is going on in and around Iowa.