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The Lomographer at Work: Publishing 9 to 5

By night, I am a lomographer, working my magic with Velvia, Provia, Ektachrome and other exotic tools. Snapping away with Holgas, Horizons, Spinners and pinholes. By day, I sit behind a computer. Let me show you the not-so-glamorous world of non-fiction publishing.

Photo by stratski

I am not one of those lucky people who have turned their life’s passion into a paid job. Let’s face it, it’s hard to make a living from reading books while listening to music and drinking beer. The closest I got was becoming a book editor. Computer books, but still…it could be worse, my job is not perfect, but it’s okay. Sometimes it’s stressful but other times I have time to surf the web. I make enough money to make a living and buy film.

My office is located in the centre of Amsterdam, in a charming old building.

Some parts of the building have nice murals. Some of them are modern and in line with corporate branding, but there’s a beautiful mural in a dead end stairwell as well. That first one actually says “Always Learning” but I think “Always Earning” is more accurate. We’re not talking charming little boutique publisher here, but full blown, 30,000 employee, corporate multinational.

Forget about the walls, come on down into the basement. I spend my time in what in Dutch is called an ‘office garden’: a large room filled with desks. Think “The Office,” only our manager sits right among us, and not in a separate room (if only…). We’re in the basement, but at least I’m next to a window. Sometimes the neighbor’s cat visits. Most of the time either a scooter of a bunch of trash cans are parked outside my window.

It’s not all drama, though. The best part of my work, is that I have some pretty cool collegues. United in our dislike of management, we have a lot of fun. Sometimes we even take our fun outside, to the nearest pub. That’s not always necessary though, we do quite some partying at work as well. Every Friday there’s the traditional vrijmibo or Friday afternoon drinks, where we stand around drinking wine and beer at the boss’ expense.

But of course, it’s not all fun and parties. There’s work to be done! I coordinate the production of about 30 books a year. I make sure it gets edited, that it goes to a designer who pours it into a nice looking form, and that the cover is made. When I took an editing class, I spent most of my time thinking about language, but in practice, I mostly haggle about money, remind people of deadlines, and check other people´s work. I also take some time to take stealth pictures of my collegues.

Photo by stratski

Most of our books are not very inspiring: Microsoft Office stuff, programming languages, the latest iPad… But we also do a lot of (digital) photography, which is pretty cool. Even though we focus on digital, I still learn a lot from those books. We also did the Dutch translation of 52 Photographic Projects: Creative Workshops for the Adventurous Image-Maker by Kevin Meredith aka lomokev, which is totally awesome (go buy it! Preferrebly in Dutch, to help me get a Christmas bonus).

So on the whole, working for a (non-fiction) publisher is not very glamorous at all. But that’s alright. I don’t need glamour, I just need a not too disagreeable way to make enough money to follow my true heart’s desire in my spare time: lazing about reading books and shooting pictures.

written by stratski

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