Freelance Journalist Interview with Ian Shipley
Hop on and take a ride with motoring freelance writer and photographer Ian Shipley – today’s interviewee. Having worked for magazines like 100% Biker, Trike and Custom Car, Shipley is always curious to find out if anything new and exciting is about to hit the road…
About your journalism:
What do you write about?
I love industrial topics and this can cover everything from documenting a working mine to the construction of custom-built hot rods and motorbikes. I have photographed and written features on a variety of topics from automotive, bikes, industrial and business.
Where are we likely to see your work?
My work appears in 100% Biker, Trike, Custom Car, Derbyshire Life, along with US-based niche publications Car Kulture Deluxe and Kustom Kulture and a host of other publications, including books by Motorbooks International, Penguin and Barnes & Noble.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
Two very different projects spring to mind. First was being part of the creative team that came up with the Violent Veg photographic cartoons that can be found on greeting cards, calendars and other products. That’s something that no-one can ever take away.
However, the most memorable from a personal point-of-view is the piece I did on one of Europe’s largest working gypsum mines. This entailed spending an entire shift down the mine with the crew and having to photograph in a location with absolutely no natural light, which in itself was a technical challenge. But the main thing I had to do was adjust to the reality of the location I was in and to quickly learn to trust the other members of the mining team that were hosting me. I managed to glean a lot of good material through the day that helped to bring the piece to life – I could never have done that by simply talking to people above ground.
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I have always wanted to document a road trip across the USA or Russia. I think Russia would be the preferred option as I believe they still have places to be discovered and still have a distinctive culture, something I got the taste of when working in the Ukraine and Lithuania on assignments. But I am never one to laugh at an idea and I think the feature I would love to do has yet to come across my desk. Having photographed down a mine, to taking pictures whilst going loop-the-loop in a plane, I think it’s going to be a project with an element of excitement about it.
Doing the US road trip is an ambition because it’s one of those things that everyone should do before they die.
About you and PRs:
Where do you source ideas for articles?
On the custom car and bike scene, I have now built up a network of sources who tip me off when something new and interesting is about to hit the road.
It’s also a case of keeping your eyes and ears open; the feature on the mine came about due to my curiosity about some landscape features I saw whilst flying over an area. Asking questions led to me being given pretty rare access to the mining operation.
How can PRs be useful to you?
Keep me informed about meaningful and relevant subject matter.
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Email is always a good first option. However, once a relationship is formed it’s good to talk on the phone.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
As long as the trip is relevant to the topic, it has to be a good way of obtaining more detailed information on a given topic and networking with other industry-specific contacts.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
When briefing a photo shoot, be clear about who and what you want to be photographed. Provide a style guide if you seek a particular style of image, especially if the client budget won’t stretch to them being on the actual shoot…
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
It would go towards funding a trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats to document Speed Week.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
‘The Hunter’ by Julia Leigh, ‘Requiem’ (book on the photographers who died in Vietnam), Q, Mojo and 100% Biker magazine.