What do I do at PFW when not teaching or preparing for a class? Well, a number of things, I suppose. But one of my favorites is researching and writing an article for a woodworking publication. Writing for a peer-reviewed publication is a privilege; woodworkers are the line editors at nearly all of the major woodworking magazines.
Last week we welcomed Steve Scott to the shop. Steve has been an editor at Taunton’s Fine Woodworking Magazine since 2004, and, of course, is a woodworker.
Steve came down from Connecticut to photograph an article I am writing for Fine, which does all of its own photography. Other magazines rely heavily on the author’s photography. Mario does the photography for my writing, and for his.
What is involved in a photo shoot? Basically, the shoot is an opportunity for Fine to not only obtain the artwork for the article, but also to challenge the author to produce what he is writing about under the unforgiving eye of the camera.
The shoot is a process. The author needs to be ready to work with accuracy and speed. It is a challenge to make everything work, on time and on budget. Photoshop is not an option when the editor is looking over your shoulder.
This was a fun shoot. Steve and I were concentrating on a close-up shot, and suddenly we both heard Mario, camera at the ready, saying “Freeze”. We had told Steve beforehand that we wanted to photograph the shoot and blog it, but by now it was mid-afternoon and we had been working steadily since about 8:30 am and had forgotten the plan. It was a full day; we didn’t finish till just before 6 pm, so Mario only got a couple of shots.
So, how do you break in to the process of being a freelance author in the woodworking field. Usually, you need an idea, and you need to pitch it to the right editor. But I got a real break. My first article came out of the blue. One Fall day I fielded a call to PFW from an Editor in Chief; he was looking for a garden arbor to fill the cover of his forthcoming Spring issue. I was on it, with Mario’s good eye as the principal designer. I built the arbor, several times to adjust the proportions, wrote the article, and was off and running. For subsequent articles, it was the process described above. When pitching the article idea, some close up photography can be helpful, as well as an abstract or outline of the article. I have found that tools, techniques, and process articles sell better than project based articles, the experiences of others may well be different.
Look for the article, edited by Steve, in FWW in a couple of months.