Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Post Bank Holiday Tap Ups

The sun hits our living room around 7pm showing up how dirty the windows are. Rain was lashing down on them through the night and this morning and you'd think this would clean 'em up but not in London. City rain is so skanky. Martin Deeson, who writes for GQ among other notables, posted on Facebook today that he was wondering where all the freelance work had gone so things must be bad. Those still in possession of a staff job must be wondering if its their turn next, something I don't have to worry about anymore.

I'm hitting up everyone I know in search of a lead for work while sitting on our couch in the evening sunshine. My sister in law's sister (is there a term for that relation?) has got a 4 month contract on the BBC news channel and I've asked her if she can ask around. Even people that I've been in the same room as, but haven't actually met; I'm wondering if they can help me out. For example, a guy called John Beach. A sunny Bank Holiday Sunday meant that our neighbourhood was still lively at dusk over the weekend and, well, you have to join in when you can hear the laughter coming in your window. We headed up Portobello and followed a crowd to what was 'Neighbourhood' under the westway where we surprised to find lovely lady called Chloe instead of the usual door Nazis. She let us in gratis even though our names weren't down. A free party in a club in West London? I don't know how he did it in these lean times but I wrote to John to say thank you and let him know about this blog just in case he knew of anyone. Is that mercenary? I don't know. If it lead to anything I'd definitely feel like I owed him one and would try and help him out in return. His night is called Electric Santa and worth checking out, though from what I can tell its sporadic.

One honourable mention before I go. In the last post I was bitching about people making excuses not to get back to me. Vicky Frost at the Guardian did. It was a 'no' but it was still good to get any reply at all. Thanks Vicky.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Chasing for answers

When I was a Photo Editor, I used to regularly get emails from lots of people wanting work. Because of the sheer number I would only reply if one of them really struck me. Some photographers, agencies and PRs would follow their emails up with phone calls to check I'd seen it, at which point I'd scroll through my inbox, wondering if I'd deleted it. At any one point, even with deleting about 100 a day, I regularly kept around 1500 emails in my inbox.

Now I'm on the other side of the fence. I've submitted something to both the Guardian and the Telegraph and its me who is having to do the chasing for answers. I was having a meeting with Kysha from www.musiomusictv.com today and we were discussing how you could tell who the people were that wouldn't call you back. 'I'll give you a call next week.' 'I just need to have a meeting with my Editor and I'll let you know then.' 'I'm sorry I'm right in the middle of something can I call you back?'. I'm getting very familiar with all these phrases.

To name one of the good guys (yes I know she's a woman) Kate.Day@telegraph.co.uk has been very helpful. I've written something about the irony of learning to love photography again after getting made redundant from my job as Deputy Photo Editor. Kate runs the photography blog for the Telegraph and has returned emails and forwarded on my work to other departments and then given me the names of the people to chase. For that I'm very grateful. I got hold of Kate through an old friend called Martin Beckford who has been doing the good work of exposing the MPs who have been fiddling their expenses. Here's one of his stories with one of my favourite headlines.


Knowing Martin got me to Kate which might lead somewhere; it proves that its often who you know that counts. Its bank holiday weekend and Portobello pubs are already starting to hum. I've got a mate coming in to town from Bristol and we're heading to All Star Lanes. See you on the other side.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Reason for this Blog's existence

Here's what happened. About 10 years ago I decided that I would quite like to write for a living. I fluked a job working for a magazine on the photo desk and thought that was a way in; that once I was there I would be able to switch roles. What happened was that after learning the ropes on the photo desk for a year my boss left and they asked me to take her job as Photo Editor. Given that I was working for a 'Gentleman's Lifestyle' magazine this meant doing shoots with girls mostly in either underwear or bikinis and also the occasional famous person. And more money to boot. I was 27 years old and quickly forgot about writing for a living as, to be honest, I was having too much fun. Three years later I was bored of it so I quit and went travelling for a year. On my return to the UK I started freelancing as a picture researcher and after about a year I ended up getting a staff job at the Mail on Sunday. You're probably starting to realise that I seem to end up working for titles with very dubious ethics. The silver lining to all this is that, when I got made unemployed at the end of April, I got some cash to tide me over. So for the next few months I've decided I'm going to give writing for a living a good go. Join me for the ups and the downs. Hopefully there'll be more of the former and not so much of the latter. And feel free to offer advice along the way. I'm new to this remember.