My first taste of journalism was working at London listings magazines in the early 1980s. A friend who worked on Event (Richard Branson’s bid to grab a share of the then flourishing Time Out market) wanted to go on holiday, and evidently decided I was the sort of unambitious slob who wouldn’t try to steal his job while he was away. So I started filling in for people, and while I was there I managed to blag a couple of photographic jobs. Because I still had ambitions to make a living out of taking photographs.
On the side, I also wrote a couple of film reviews for Event. My first ever critics’ screening was of a film called Insatiable (1980), starring Marilyn Chambers and John C. Holmes, hardcore porn cut down to a softcore version for its U.K. release. I also had my first ever article published there – a think-piece about inflatable sex-dolls; the editor who accepted it for publication was Jonathan Meades. But the magazine closed, virtually overnight, giving me my first taste of many such occasions when publications folded (usually owing me money) and I would have to begin my career all over again, from scratch.
Some of the Event staff moved on to Time Out, and the pattern began to repeat itself there – I filled in for people, and for several years, I got sent to review porn, exploitation and low-rent teen movies that no-one else would touch. But I also managed to blag a couple of photographic jobs.
When, eventually, I started doing interviews, I continued to take photographs of the interview subjects. But playing two roles in the course of a single interview was really exhausting and difficult – the interviewer and the photographer were two wildly different personae, one was a sycophant, the other a bossy-boots and I never found a way to combine the two satisfactorily. So as I got more writing work, I gradually let the photographic side of it slip.
Which is a shame – I wish now I’d continued, even in an informal way, since that would mean I would have taken photographs of David Lynch and Isabella Rossellini, Peter Cushing, David Cronenberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger, all of whom I interviewed. But hey, you can’t do everything. Though I did try, for a while.
Sorry about the massive copyright logos, by the way. I’ve already found to my cost that some people help themselves to whatever they find online, and never even bother to credit the photographer. I’m sure that if anyone really wanted to, they could remove my name from the image, but at least I would then know any uncredited reproduction wasn’t just casual negligence, but enemy action.
In any case, I’ve started to rather like my logo. Sometimes I think it even adds a touch of je ne sais quoi to the image.