NPR Reporting on Prostitution – Stephen Alvarez uses HDSLRs

by planetmitch7 Comments

Stephen Alvarez has been working with HDSLRs for a while now (we've been following him since 2009) and has sent us this report on prostitution he's done for NPR with his Canon EOS 5D Mark II. You can see the entire report on NPR's “Rising Up From Prostitution In Nashville“. Stephen told us “I shot this video entirely on a canon 5D MK II for NPR over the course of 3 months this winter”.

Redrock Micro

The report

Nashville: Up From Prostitution from NPR on Vimeo.

Prostitution is ubiquitous. For those involved, life can be an unending cycle of abuse, addiction and arrest. But one rehabilitation program in Nashville, Tenn. seems to be turning many of those lives around. It's called Magdalene.

The background

From Stephen's blog – where there is additional info, stills and video.

When most of us think about prostitution -if we think about it at all- we think of Las Vegas, or Elliot Spitzer in the Mayflower hotel.

Since February NPR's Jacki Lyden and I have working on a story about prostitution and its aftermath in Nashville, Tennessee. Far from glamorous we look at the real lives of street prostitutes. The 3 part radio piece starts Monday afternoon (4/25) with a 12 minute segment on NPR's All Things Considered and a 10 minute film on the NPR web site.  The series continues on Morning Edition April 26 and 27. 

The series concentrates on women in Nashville's Magdalene Program that has been astonishingly successful at breaking they cycles of violence, abuse and addiction that hold women in prostitution. 

Stephen Alvarez

Sewanee, TN

Our thanks to Stephen for sending this our way! Keep up the great work!

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

Zeiss Cinema Lenses


  1. Very powerful film, heart-breaking. Thank-you for sharing & to planet5d for covering this story.


  2. the typical sad story content, but the shooting is pretty bad, especially the talking head parts with bad framing and bad moves that scream non-pro tripod. I know if I did anything this bad I’d not get paid for it.

  3. I would like to counter the previous comment about the shooting being bad. I think the shooting is honest and compelling. You don’t doubt that a single frame of it is real. I’ve made my living for the past 28 years as a TV news cameraman, the last 22 at an NBC affiliate, I’ve shot all kinds of things and know how to “pretty things up.” But doing long-form documentary is completely different. This story doesn’t have the wide angles, lots of fast cuts and uses jump cuts between interviews liberally. Frankly, I love that. It’s real. It has a very honest, Maysles brothers type of cinema verite truth. Quite honestly I found this inspiring in it’s lack of “eye candy” and cinematic style. You also don’t get very often to find people talking about themselves in such nakedly honest ways. I’d also like to commend Steve on his sound recording. The sound of the women working in the kitchen is Clean! Those are hard walls and get lots of echo – always a technical audio nightmare – and this is perfect. I may use some of this on a future story of my own. Well done.

  4. If the story is good enough, you can over look the lack of technically correct shooting skills. This is one of those cases I think.

  5. It is a good story, but I think the shooting style or there lack of, detracts from the overall impact. The framing doesn’t bother me, but the numerous out-of-focus talking head shots do. Anyone that shoots with the 5D Mark II knows it can be a beast to set a hard focus in certain situations. This is one of them. Low light, wide open aperture, and you can have your a_ _ handed to you. All in all, I wouldn’t say this is terrible, but some attention to certain shooting situations might help.

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