Monday, September 17, 2012

Spotted Salamander
Ambystoma maculatum

  Enlargements of this image are available for sale.

Have you ever looked up to a salamander?

Many years ago when I was starting a young family, my wife was unemployed and we had a couple of young children to feed on a junior draftsman’s pay. I was working on a BSc at night university. One requisite course was English 101 - Composition.

   When I had a free-choice writing assignment I would always write about what I knew best - hunting and fishing.

   After the prof had corrected the grammar (I’ll never meet another misplaced modifier without fondly remembering that lovely lady) I thought I’d try to sell some of my work. First submission
was to a local outdoor magazine - $24 - and it made our Christmas.

   Second sale was to Outdoor Life magazine - Madison Avenue, NYC.  The big time.
$350 lovely US dollars! B.i.i.i.i.ig bucks in 1960. I promptly sold a couple more articles.

   I had it made. Not!

   I’d heard about rejection slips. I started to learn about them. Lots of them.

   My articles included photos, of course. That was how it worked then.

   A couple of editors were gentle with me. No rejection slips - real letters: "We like your article, but the photos are weak. Do you have others?"

   Nope. And what the hell are "weak" photos anyhow?
   Opposite of strong? Maybe big denotes strong?

   I gathered up a selection of back issues of the magazines at which I was aiming. Got some scissors, a scrap book and some glue. If a published picture was big, into the scrapbook it went.

   Then I sat down with a cold one to review the photos. Took me about three minutes to figure out what strong photos were. Virtually all the photos in the scrapbook had one thing in common. An unusual camera angle.

   High or low, usually.

   So, on my hunting and fishing trips from that time on, I started crawling around on the ground or climbing any handy trees. Guess what?

   "We really like your story. Will $400 be enough?"

   You bet your sweet bippy four hundred bucks would be quite enough!

   Before the next rejection I sold six straight submissions - one to a special market for $1,000.

   I hope you’ll agree that the salamander shot at the top of this post is a "strong" shot. I kinda like it. And it makes me a bit of money from time to time.

   Now, the big question - how do you get to look up to a salamander? I’ll tell you sometime.


1 comment:

  1. I am so thrilled that you have begun this blog, John. I have so much to learn and often wished I lived closer to be able to learn from you. Thank you from a very amateur photographer.