Keeping Organised

Any freelance will tell you that there is a great deal of admin involved in keeping things running smoothly. As a photographer one of the more critical elements of my admin, apart from making sure I keep my accounting up to date, is to ensure my photo archive is accessible.

By this I mean that if I need to look up an assignment I shot a decade ago, this shouldn’t be an exercise in rummaging through a suitcase full of random CDs, DVDs and hard drives hoping to find the one I need (and keeping fingers crossed that it hasn’t become damaged and un-readable).

Since I went digital in 2000 I’ve kept a catalogue of every assignment I’ve ever undertaken. It’s a simple piece of software which I use to record each job. It pulls keywords from the captions I’ve written to the image files, so when I go to search I just need a place or person’s name or something relevant to the assignment and the catalogue will return thumbnails of any pictures with matching keywords.

When I click on a thumbnail the software tells me which disk or drive that image (and therefore the rest of the job) is stored on. Since all my storage is kept in strict order it’s easy to find any job pretty fast.

The software, called Media Pro, has changed little over the years; I can’t remember who developed it because it has been owned by various companies including Microsoft. It’s now owned by a company called Phase One and I have to say it’s been brilliant.

The beauty of its simplicity is that even when Phase One took it over I didn’t have to start all over again, re-importing every job from the last 15 years. I just had to buy a new licence to use Media Pro, and the software automatically recognised my catalogue file.

Now you might be wondering why I’d bother to bore you with all this back-story, but the simple fact is that clients occasionally need me to relocate a job from a few years ago (and they’re often on a deadline when they ask me to do this) and my ability to reach back, find older work and resupply the images as needed is a valuable part of my service.

Of course this facility requires admin time, reliable storage and very occasionally a little extra cost in paying for a new licence, but I take these factors into consideration when setting my fees.

When you’re looking to hire a photographer it’s well worth checking what their storage and archive policies are; how long do they store images for? Do they have a system for retrieving long-forgotten jobs at short notice? Is their archive duplicated and held in different locations to protect against loss through flood, fire or theft?

No one can 100% guarantee to keep everything for ever, but I’ve kept my system safe and accessible for over 15 years now. I wonder how many other photographers can say that?

A day in her life, a lifetime for me


My first published photo (click to enlarge)

As far as I recall, this is the first photo I ever had published in a newspaper. Perhaps a little weird that I still have the cutting, but I have a few books of cuttings dating back… well, to this first one.

This particular shot was taken for a competition and book, though I don’t believe it made the final cut, which was obviously a shame. I do recall that I’d heard about the competition and didn’t have anything to enter, but I was obviously on the lookout for something.

Although the date is missing from the cutting, it would have been around 1987. At that time I was working at London Camera Exchange in Bath, right next to the abbey.

I was probably cleaning cameras and shelving when I spotted this girl going to the fountain for a drink and I must have reacted incredibly quickly because I know I pulled a camera from the display, loaded a film and a telephoto lens and took the photo through the shop window knowing that if I went outside to take it the moment would have passed.

Perhaps the failure to be included in the book scarred me for life because I’ve not entered many, if any, photographic competitions since, but seeing my photo in print gave me a thrill which set me on the path to becoming a professional photographer. I may not have won the competition, but I wonder now if I would have become a photographer if this frame hadn’t been printed. That being the case, I’m going to say I did win. I just didn’t know it at the time.

Tear Sheet Tastic

This week I’m simply announcing the launch of a major new gallery on my website, this time featuring photographs as they can be seen within the context of their publication in magazines, books and websites.

Over the last 14 years since I went freelance I’ve had the privilege of working with some top-flight clients on really interesting projects and I thought it was time I used some of my cuttings to give my web visitors and potential clients more of an insight into how my work is used.

The images appear in no particular order, but are generally grouped by client or project so you should get a feel for the different styles of shoot as you go through and of course I’ll be updating it as new work becomes available.

I hope you like what you see, and as ever your comments are welcome.

Preview of the Tear Sheets gallery

Click the preview to be taken directly to the gallery