Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Working for Photography Magazines

Blogger Hits the Jackpot

When I was 16, and on the verge of leaving school - with very few exam qualifications to my name - a friend spotted an advert in the local paper for a business that was recruiting for an apprentice. I went for an interview, mainly because I didn't really see myself as having any other options.

The decision to employ me or not was probably made after the first question: "What are your ambitions?" and my reply: "I want to be a journalist". I doubt that went over well in the office of a firm that made false teeth - and my glorious career as a dental technician was over before it began.

And, so in some ways, was my career as a journalist (it was only later I realised that what I really meant was "photo-journalist"). I tried working freelance for a while, and even joined the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) in the late 1970's. But, My lack of academic qualifications meant that local newspapers wouldn't even interview me, and the "freelance" option wasn't something that my mother would consider "a steady job". So, for many years, I followed a different career path that provided a PPP (permanent, pensionable position) - and even the qualifications that would have got me the local newspaper interview.

But, by then, it was too late to change horses in mid-stream. I climbed the clinical and academic ladders of my steady job - and pursued my photographic "hobby" when I had the time. This included working for local newspapers, magazines and picture agencies during my days off "work" - and I found myself doing the sort of work that full-time professionals are offered and wearing more "access all areas" passes than a part-timer should expect.

In the last few years, my personal and financial circumstances were such that I could jump off the PPP wagon and finally try to fulfill the ambition that I proudly declared to the false-teeth maker when I was a lad. I've had some success - and I'm slowly starting to feel like a real photographer. Of course, the economic downturn hasn't exactly helped - but I'm just seeing that as bad timing, rather than a bad decision.

Yesterday, I got an email from Ian Farrell the editor of Professional Photographer Magazine, in the UK. He offered me 3 writing jobs for the May 2009 issue, a promise of a bigger feature in June and a regular Blog spot, the first of which appeared this morning, at this link. It's an edited version of my previous post on The Snappy Snapper - but in future I intend to vary the content of both blogs, where possible.

I've been emailing Ian Farrell, his publisher and the web editor since the middle of last year, telling them that I can take a photograph and write and that I'd like to work for them. Not very much happened until yesterday. Normally I would have given up ages ago, a bit like I did shortly after my visit to the tooth factory.

There's a lesson there somewhere. The tooth fairy won't make ambitions come true. But maybe persistence and holding on to the dream, will.


  1. Good luck with that Stephe. Thats a good magazine (I subscribe), and all their contributors are excellent so they have obviously done their home work on you.


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