A festive example of entrepreneurial journalism in action

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There’s been a lot of conversation this year about entrepreneurial journalism – basically how to make money from the trade without relying on just one employer.

And here’s an example of that. Journalist Garry Cook – for whom photography is one string to his bow – has launched a range of documentary Christmas cards.

For anyone who is fed up of robin on a postbox Christmas cards, then these are probably for you.

Garry, from Preston, says the Christmas cards are an ‘exploration of how to promote the genre [photojournalism] through innovative marketing’ – which is surely what entrepreneurial journalism is all about.

To quote the press release Garry has issued, he is ‘using products to promote photography – and inverting the usual role of photography as a promoter of the product – attempting bring photography to a wider audience.’

Garry cites countries such as Japan, America, Holland and Germany as places which all have a thriving photography industry, while this country has seen markets for photography depleted in recent years.

His solution is one which many journalists will recognise: Becoming more creative in finding ways to earn money and get work out to an audience.

So the result is a range of Christmas cards with a documentary theme  of ‘The role of Christmas in the lives of British people.’

The process for gathering the images will be familiar to any photojournalist. He attended many events and locations while collecting images – including dances, parties, shopping arcades, garden centres, markets, fetes, fairs and festivals plus and, perhaps most importantly, Christmas lunch in a traditional Blackpool hotel – to get lots of different angles on Christmas.

And much like the way Cadbury starts thinking about next year’s Easter eggs before  this year’s have left the shelves, Garry says he is already planning next year’s.

He said:  “There are some amazing Christmas festivals, parties and markets up and down the country. I’m always on the look out for the most quirky and unusual.

“And there are still plenty of places I’d like to take Christmas images, particularly the seasonal delights of the supermarket.

“The people who deal with photography requests at Aldi, Lidl and Asda had a tough time coming to terms with what I’m trying to do. I’m hoping that these images might persuade them to let me enter their stores with my camera this year.”

The reason I’m blogging about this – other than the fact Garry has told me about it – is that I think it’s a great example of doing something as a journalist, but in a different way. Rather like the way many journalists now Tweet from live events and then produce something entirely different for print/broadcast, these Christmas cards involve journalism, but delivered in a different way.

Doing it the professional way – rather than just snapping away without getting permission –  does have its problems, however. Anyone who knows the Trafford Centre in Manchester will know it likes doing Christmas, and they did allow Garry in – but only if proved he had  £10million public liability insurance.

Garry said: “The guy I dealt with at the Trafford Centre was brilliant. He really understood what I was trying to do.

“It’s just that the increase in insurance – my standard photography insurance was for £1m public liability – cost me a fortune. My insurance company had never quoted for £10m – they struggled to get me the cover at first.

“My dad does electrical work in heavy industries. They have to shut down the entire plant for him. Potentially his mistake could blow the whole place up – and he only need £2m cover.”

Garry also had to find one woman he caught on camera during Whalley’s Pickwick night

Garry has blogged on the cards here – including links on how to buy them.

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