Creating NME’s amazing photography

Marian Paterson is Photography Director at NME. Her job is to dream up, organise and create all of the amazing images you see every week in NME. icould took a little time out of her busy schedule to find out more about her current role and career path.

Tell us about the job you’re doing now?

I am the Photography Director at NME music magazine. I look after all of the photography including the covers and features. I am responsible for commissioning the shoots – I have to come up with ideas and pitch them, as well as booking and briefing photographers, directing shoots and editing the images.

What is the biggest challenge you have at the moment?

My biggest challenge is to make sure that everyone is happy with what we are doing. A band’s image is very important and sometimes they can be a little uncertain about the shoot and my idea. It’s always great though when a band is uncertain and then in the end they are really happy with the final result.

What is the most exciting aspect of your work?

It’s great when everything you’ve been working on comes together. When I’m at a shoot, I know everyone’s there because I’ve asked them and organised it. It also a nice feeling when you see everything come together and the magazine cover you’ve worked on, on the shelf.

One of the most successful photography features we ran this year was Glastonbury’s rolling gallery. We could see how many people were viewing it and it was really popular, we ended up breaking records for the number of people who viewed it.

How does technology help you do your job?

The most piece of technology I use is still the telephone. Using the phone instead of email makes it a lot easier for me to pitch creative ideas and to build a relationship with the band or management.

It’s important to have a strong relationship with the people you are working with as my role requires them to trust me and trust my ideas. Talking to them over the phone allows me to continue to develop those relationships.

What do you know now that you wish you had known earlier in life?

I wish I had learnt more about the business behind creating a magazine. I studied Visual Communications at university but I think I would have benefited from combining that with some work experience too.

Would your classmates from school be surprised at what you’re doing now?

No, it would totally make sense to them. A lot of my friends from Birmingham also moved down to London to work in the music industry!

Was there a teacher who had a particularly strong influence on you?

I had a great Art Teacher in Secondary School who was incredibly influential. She always believed that we could all do well and most students in her class ended up with grade As at both GCSE and A-level.

I also really enjoyed English and strangely Biology!

What’s your desert island essential that you couldn’t do without?

I’d like to bring all my books to keep my imagination going! You can’t underestimate the power of reading and enjoying books. Similar to my job, books allow me to dream up a picture, but in my job I make it happen.