I had my first pictures published in Blues & Soul magazine when I was still at school and around the same time I wrote a monthly column for Black Echoes music mag (about rare 12” singles) for a few pence a word.
As a fledgling writer/photographer I was proposed for membership of the National Union of Journalists by the late/great Malcolm Muggeridge (still got the letter)…
… and my first grown-up cheque came via Editor Eric Bailey at SHE Magazine, for a words & pics feature on (Saint) Mother Teresa and her Sister’s in Calcutta.
In tandem with tennis writing for magazines (below), I wandered into teaching the game almost by accident (a longer story). I spent the best part of 20 enjoyable years coaching and my regular ex-pupils (and families) remain friends to this day.
My experiences as a tennis coach formed my rock-solid belief in what sport can and should be, which is pretty much the opposite of what it’s become (can you hear me biting my tongue?).
I got my first tennis photographer credentials for Miami and the French Open in 1988 (I think) and have been an intermittent visitor ever since.
I provided pictures, tournament reports, player interviews, features and instructional articles for tennis magazines in Europe, the USA and Britain.
I wrote (and illustrated) my own monthly technical analysis series in the (then) top German tennis magazine, Tennis Revue, sold a series to the WTA’s ‘Inside Women’s Tennis’ mag, was a finalist in (the late Gene Scott’s) Tennis Week ‘Great American Tennis Writing Awards’, unloaded my tennis cock-up photos to the BBC’s ‘A Question of Sport’… and other such pointless fluff.
I covered tennis tournaments primarily to shoot hi-speed sequence photos for instruction, and I’ve built up a personal archive of many thousands – hence the tennis book.
From the outset, I was an uneasy journalist, particularly with the restrictions on style, comment and the rise of the accursed ‘advertorial’.
For the past decade or more, photography has provided a healthy alternative to prostituting my pen, and whilst cataloguing much of the North of England (and beyond) in its best light, I’ve been chipping away at more sizeable writing projects – as you’d expect from a camera-toting word-vendor, very script comes fully loaded with a pictorial list of ideal locations.
Hopefully, the best writing is yet to come – stay tuned.