Wages Day

“There he stood and there we left
Outside the flashing neon sign
With the smell of cheap cigars
And the hope of sweet perfume
And his heart it was reeling
With the thrill of it all
All to do and only hours
He said “all this is all yours””
Wages Day, Deacon Blue, 1989.

A bit of 80’s soul there, to counteract the slightly downbeat tone of my last post, and to reassure people I’m not about to hang myself by my camera straps.

Always loved the above song, it always conjured up in my mind images of opportunity, and the feeling of everything happening at once, often a little bit too fast.
Way back in the dawn of time, when I was still at 6th form/shooting and printing for the local paper/printing shots in Mum and Dad’s outside loo, I used to have what I called “Wages Days” of my own. I’d have days when I’d be out for a run first thing in the morning, have a full school day, and then be out training or shooting in the evening, but in between I’d be calling in on people to drop off prints from the shoot I’d done for them that weekend, talking to other people about another shoot, collecting cash for some prints for someone else, calling in at the local paper and so on. Now, this wasn’t every day by any means, but days like this probably cropped up once a fortnight or so, and I always loved being this busy. There was a wonderful feeling to running about the place, dropping in on people with some pictures, heading off to somewhere else to start another project, and all the while keeping various proverbial plates spinning, and being in touch with people from a variety of different backgrounds.
I’ve never been one for gangs and groups, yet I think it’s that last aspect that always appealed to me most, the ability to bring something to different people, and find connections between them. Photography is a fantastic passport to this sort of thing, as it crosses so many boundaries, and opens so many doors.Now, besides giving myself a nice, rosy nostalgic glow on a Friday afternoon, what has this got to do with anything? Well, I’ve started to notice that Wages Days are back, except these days they are on a much broader scale. Rather than setting out from the 6th form common room, to go to the maths department, then 10 minutes down the road to the local paper office, my scale now covers all of London. I can find myself going from a portfolio viewing in Fulham first thing, to a lunchtime meeting in the West End, back to the office, then out to the East End to shoot a test, stopping on the way back to fill the car up for tomorrow morning’s early start. The principle is exactly the same as it was 15 years ago, but the canvas is now bigger, and I can still hear the strains of a 21 year old song in my head as I jump on the bike, get on the bus, or drive through the Rotherhithe Tunnel.All this is a counter weight to the more mundane aspects of self-employment – the days when not a lot happens, and the phone doesn’t ring much. I know from my very brief experience of having to stick to regular hours and routines that stability doesn’t suit me, and after many years of the slightly undulating lifestyle of a freelancer, I’ve found that the rewards far outweigh the costs.
Bring on the 80’s anthems I say, for my next post, Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”……

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