On The Shoulders of Giants

Vicky Collins and Larry Hatteberg

In the room were the legends of photojournalism.  Darrell Barton, Larry Hatteberg and the memory of Bob Brandon.  There were also hundreds of others who had been influenced and inspired by the man we gathered to remember.  I did not know Bob Brandon.  I worked with him only once.  When he died in December 2009 I was struck by the outpouring of accolades for him.  I had no idea he was so inconic and respected.  I went to his memorial service to learn more about this master storyteller.

They say a man is known by the company he keeps and among Bob Brandon’s closest friends is a man who, more than any other, has influenced the storyteller I am today.  I met Larry Hatteberg when I came to Wichita, Kansas in 1981 to be a news producer at KAKE TV.  Prior to that I was a production assistant at KRON TV in San Francisco.  Part of my job description was to make coffee.  I had never produced a show.  I was as green as could be.  At one point Larry told me I reminded him of Jane in “Broadcast News.” 

I made so many mistakes in my early days as a producer but one of the smartest moves of my career was to study how Larry Hatteberg crafted stories.  Larry taught me to write to pictures and natural sound.  He showed me how to be intimate with subjects and respect them.  Even if he was interviewing a dirt poor farmer for “Hatteberg’s People” he never condescended and always listened carefully to what they had to say.  Every person he met could inspire and teach us how to live a better life.  And when he edited he laid the pictures and sound down first then added the words to finish the piece.  Larry did this in a two minute story or a documentary.  Pictures always led.

The enduring legacy of Larry Hatteberg, Bob Brandon and Darrell Barton is they set the standard for television storytellers and continue to raise others up to be the best they can be.  They teach and inspire and the room today was full of their students.  While we all socialized, Ben McCoy, one of the finest photojournalists I know, came up to Larry to shake his hand.  We all stand on the shoulders of giants.  I’ll never know what Larry Hatteberg saw in a scrub like me.  Maybe he recognized talent that I didn’t see myself.  I will forever be grateful that he let me hover over his shoulder and watch him work.  He continues to be one of my greatest mentors and today I finally told him so.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.

3 thoughts on “On The Shoulders of Giants

  1. I was fortunate enough to work with both Larry and Darrell. They taught me much. And when I left TV and went into marketing, I found the same skills were required…earning trust one person at a time, and being a story teller. No one in marketing wants to admit they tell stories, but that is all we do. Our whole culture is built on story telling. Larry, Darrell, Bob, and for a short time, me were fortunate to do it with television.

  2. Vicky, you are a lucky woman. Larry Hatteberg is truly an icon and master storyteller. Bob Brandon knew it and he told me so. You see, Bob was my mentor for 25 years and I considered him one of my best friends. I was his first producer in Colorado and he “raised” me in the TV business. I owe more to his gentle guidance than I can ever say. Like you with Larry, I never knew what Bob saw in me all those years ago but when he recently saw one of my pieces he gave me the ultimate compliment by saying he had no more to teach me, that I was now teaching him. While I’m sure that there was so much more I could have learned from him, I grinned like a school girl. I will continue to mentor those entering this profession as Bob once did for me and may we all be grateful for the gifts these giants have given us.

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