How I almost got into Wired UK

Back in November 2008, I spoke at HomeCamp about the Current Cost stuff we were doing as well as about the ambient orb I had made.

A few days later, on my birthday in fact, I got an email from a freelance writer who was putting together a short piece for the then soon to be relaunched Wired UK. He was writing about HomeCamp, Current Cost and all those sorts of things and wanted to feature my ambient orb. We had a chat on the phone and I gave him a brief run down of the orb, what it was, how it could be used for energy monitoring. We left it at that and I waited to see what happened.

A couple weeks later, I got a phone call from someone at Wired. Given the visual appeal of the orb they wanted to send around a photographer to help illustrate the article. Slightly bemused by it all, we organised a date and time for the photographer to come to my house and do his thing.

It was a weekday in late January 2009. I slipped out of work after lunch mentioning something about an appointment and headed home. I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I was picturing a guy would turn up with a camera, spend 10 minutes taking a couple photos and be off to his next job - the life of a freelance jobbing photographer.

When he arrived we had a quick chat about the orb, talked about various ideas for how to shoot it, and I gave him a tour of the house looking at potential locations. At this point, he went back to his car and started to unload his equipment and I got a lesson in professional photography.

There were at least two cameras and multiple lenses, two spotlights on tripods and a another pair of tripods between which a huge roll of paper was hung as a backdrop. This wasn’t going to be a brief visit and sure enough, my living room was turned into a makeshift studio for the next 2 hours.

And it wasn’t limited to that - we moved up to the spare room with my desk as well as half an hour spent in the kitchen. The search for the perfect shot was relentless. Ultimately it would be up to the Wired UK guys, but he wanted to make sure they had lots of options.

In an attempt at small talk, I asked if he did this sort of thing often. He said that being based in Brighton (yes, he had driven over from Brighton for this - I did wonder at that point why Wired hadn’t hired a more local photographer…) he tended to do music based shoots. I’m glad I didn’t follow that up with a ‘anyone I’d know?’ type question…

After he left, I decided to google him, Alex Lake, and I found his site Twoshortdays. It was about this point I suddenly flashed through my head everything I had said to him to make sure I hadn’t been a tit. Go and have a look. You see, his other jobs have included some great portraits of people like Amy Winehouse, Guy Garvey, Boy George and Bob f’ing Geldof. There are dozens of portraits of very famous people on there - and he was in my living room, helping me move my sofa so we could take some photos of my little ambient orb.

Did I mention Bob f’ing Geldof?

On top of that, he’s also an illustrator. The odd little doodle? No. He designed a number of Keane’s albums - including Hopes and Fears.

Did I mention I asked him “so, are you a freelance photographer then? Or is this just something you do on the side?”


It would appear the article got spiked in the end - it still hasn’t surfaced in the magazine and I can’t believe they would have held on to it for this long. I did email Alex late last year in case he had any photos from that day without any reply.

Bob f’ing Geldof.

And that is how I almost got into Wired UK.