What I did before now

Education: BA English Literature, First Class – University of Sheffield (1993)

I've always been good at words. This was a big help in doing my English degree, when I realised that being able to express your ideas well was probably as important as having ones that were original. After graduating I moved to London to work in the picture research department of publishers Conran Octopus. Once that contract ended, I temped for a while and then went freelance, combining doing picture research on design books with writing and editing, work that included managing the visual arts section of Shoreditch-based magazine, D>Tour; writing marketing materials for Granta magazine; editing guidebooks for London specialist, Metro Publications; and co-authoring the first edition of The London Market Guide, an exhaustive introduction to the capital's street markets.

In 1998 I started working part-time for Richard Glover, one of the UK's leading architectural photographers, helping him find new work and running his stock library. It was during this period that I worked on In the City, a book by photographer Ed Barber that documented the lives of over 100 people who lived and worked in the City of London. And in early 2000 I started a year's contract as a managing editor at arts publishers August Media, where I worked with a range of interesting contributors and got lots of hands-on experience of the design process.

For a number of years after that, I mixed project-based work with subbing on magazines – predominantly Condé Nast Traveller and Harper's Bazaar – which tightened up my eye-for-detail editing skills. During this period I also enjoyed a couple of short breaks from the written word. In 2006 I was invited to contribute to a workshop jointly run by the Tate and UAL's Photography and the Archive Research Centre, 'The Elephant Vanishes', a photography-focused attempt to document London's Elephant & Castle in advance of the large-scale redevelopment of the area's public housing. And the following year I did a series of voluntary interviews for Kings Cross Voices, an oral-history project run by BBC broadcaster Alain Dein that was designed to build up an archive of people's memories of living and working in the Kings Cross area of London. Since then I've continued to take a particular interest in personal narrative and in photography – when I get a chance, I enjoy shooting documentary-style pictures (I recently had an image selected for exhibition as part of Photography Oxford '14, the city's biennial festival of international photography).