Text size

Aug 18 2011

Asia Pacific

Behind the Story

Beautiful Eye, Consummate Professional

ABC reporter John Taylor shares his memories of cameraman John Bean, who was killed in a helicopter crash on August 18.

Editor’s note: John Bean, longtime cameraman for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was killed in a helicopter crash in South Australia on April 18, 2011, along with reporter Paul Lockyer and pilot Gary Ticehurst. A gifted photographer with an unwavering ethical compass, Bean was a friend to Dart Centre Asia Pacific and a staunch ally in spreading trauma awareness among Australian news professionals. Here is he remembered by ABC Brisbane reporter John Taylor, in one of several tributes to Bean, Lockyer and Ticehurst by ABC colleagues posted by the network.

For more than two decades John Bean worked for the ABC as a cameraman.

His was a beautiful, compassionate eye. There are the awards to prove it. But we knew it and we often told him. Probably not enough.

This morning a colleague was speaking to people in Grantham, and they sent sympathies to us for the deaths of John, Gary Ticehurst and Paul Lockyer.

John had been to Grantham, helping film Paul's documentary After the Deluge: The Valley.

John's skills were matched by his personality. In an industry where people skills are everything, they're not as common as you think. But John had them.

In trying times he soothed the public and journalists alike. He made them feel comfortable. And there was his sense of humour - the best kind. Not at other people's expense, but with them. Sometimes, at himself. Even at his own name - John Wayne Bean.

John was generous to journalists. He would advise when more shots were needed, of the best locations, and how to make the best possible story; to do justice to what we were witnessing and reporting.

ABC Queensland News Editor Bernard Bowen today spoke for all of us.

"John was a consummate professional, who was passionate about his craft. His skills matched his passion and he was one of the most talented and versatile operators in the business," he said.

"Not only that, John was such a joy to work with. Blessed with a great personality, he was always up for a good conversation. Time on the road with John was always enjoyable. The ABC family in Queensland has lost one of its finest sons.

"Our thoughts are with John's family, in particular his wife Pip (Landline reporter Pip Courtney) who we all know so well."

John worked on all the shows, the biggest and most important stories, and the smallest.

During the last A-League soccer season, John covered a Brisbane Roar training session.

He walked back into the newsroom and handed reporter Mark Hides a card containing the footage and said: "Well, there you go. Now remember, I've never shot soccer training before, so good luck". This was followed by his wonderful laugh.

It was the best vision Mark had ever seen of a Brisbane Roar training session.

John was extremely well-read and informed; indeed, he was dux of his high school in Rockhampton.

People expected him to do law or medicine. But he loved pictures, news, and stories. Why couldn't and shouldn't he be behind the lens? It was exactly where he wanted to be. And he was excited to be filming at Lake Eyre.

He could write too; beautiful sentences, from an open heart.

While TV journalists get the public gaze, it wouldn't happen without the dedicated men and women behind the lens.

We mourn John's death, and we rejoice his life.

Dart Center Events

All calendar dates »

John Taylor

  • John Taylor is a reporter for ABC TV's 7.30 program on ABC1.

Related Articles

Request Publications