After these three brothers lost their father Ronnie E. Gies, on Sept. 11th at the World Trade Center, they each chose to follow in their fathers footsteps and become firefighters. Bobby, Ronnie and Tommy Gies talk about family memories and their devotion to the fire department.

Newsday hired me in January of 2011 to help with their September 11th, a Decade Later, documentary project.

Our goal was to make feature pieces and stories about Long Islanders who lost their lives on 9/11 during the World Trade Center attacks. It was a very difficult and emotional project sitting down with families reliving that day. By far the hardest project I’ve ever been involved with.

I mostly worked on my own and without tight deadlines. However, the Gies piece was slightly different then the grouping as a whole. For this story, I worked with talented reporter Chau Lam on deadline.

It was really nice to have a reporter to work with. It allowed me to run two cameras during a three person interview. I was also able to operate the Sound Devices Mix Pre-D audio mixer, which powered a boom microphone and a wireless lavalier mic. Based on who was speaking, I was able to adjust accordingly. Operating two cameras and microphones for three people would be impossible to achieve without a dedicated person as the interviewer. For camera A I chose the 5DMKII. The B camera on the side was a Canon 1d MkIV.

We anticipated the interview running for an upcoming Sunday cover in Newsday. Since time was limited and I was shooting stills and video simultaneously, it didn’t allow for as many creative perspectives as hoped.

Over the course of the project, we learned more about the brothers. This brought us back to document additional aspects of their story. The entire project was shot in three sessions.

1. The interview, which included the portrait of the three brothers on black.

2. The firehouse, which included the portrait with the helmet and in front of the fire truck.

3. Finally, the scene at the cemetery, which included an additional sound bite.

For the outside firehouse shoot, I used a Steadicam Merlin. It works, but I’m not thrilled with the results. I found that the smaller Steadicams have a tendency to sway.

This piece was shot in the summer, so the brothers were wearing shorts. I used the framed photos to block knees and legs.

I worked with a video editor on this. Brendan Awerbuch, a talented editor who is now working for a Glenn Beck website in NYC.

Although a very difficult project, it was a privilege working with all the families and the Newsday crew. This piece was one many for the group project which recently won a NY regional Emmy Award in the category of Web Interactivity.


Cameras: Canon EOS 5d Mark II, Canon EOS 1d Mark IV – 5DMKII, 1D MKIV
Lenses: Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L II, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, 50mm f/1.4, 16-35mm, 70-200mm, 50mm
Sound: Sound Devices MixPre-D – MixPreD
Microphones: Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun, Sennheiser Wireless EW 100-ENG G2 – 416, 100-ENG G2
Video Lighting:Litepanels 1×1 Bi-Color, Litepanels
Grip: Matthews Century C Stand, Impact Saddle Sand Bag, K-Tek Audio Boom Pole – C Stand, Sand, Boom Pole
Follow Focus Puller: IDC Photo, IDC
Stabilization: Steadicam Merlin, Steadicam
Still Lighting:ProFoto Acute 2R 2400- Acute 2R
Still Reflector:ProFoto White Beauty Dish – Beauty Dish
Still Grid: Profoto Honeycomb – 25D

Copywrite: Newsday

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