Saturday, 19 July 2008


My thanks to the IET Lancashire and Cumbria Network.

Not only did they have the good taste to ask me if they could publish one of my photographs for their April newsletter, but they used it on the cover and also were good enough to send me two copies to keep in my collection of publications.

The first photograph I ever had published was a shot of the Rochdale canal, that I entered in a photographic competition in 1981 in the magazine Lancashire Magazine.

It won third prize and I then went on to win more prizes in future issues, including two first prizes.

This set me off working freelance to a number of magazines, both local and national until my first cover photograph came in 1982 in the Lakescene Magazine.

Again I had a number of successes with Lakescene, but now I had my eyes set on written work as well as photographs.

I had a number of illustrated letters published in The Field and This England. They were all about some of the curiosities to be found in the countryside - windmills, village pumps etc.

Once again though it was Lancashire Magazine that gave me a breakthrough by publishing a double page spread about the history of Blackpool Trams along with 7 photographs and then later giving me a running series along the lines of the illustrated letters, called John Burke's Curious Lancashire.

From then I went onto greater things. A series of photos of an orang utan yawning featured full page in She and was seen and then taken on by the American National Enquirer. By now I had made enough money to pay for my camera - a Canon AE1. Which gave me another idea and I sold a few photos to the Canon Camera Club for use in their member's newsletter!

By the mid 1980s it was a poor month if I didn't have at least one photograph or article published in a magazine somewhere. I had a number of successes with animal photographs used for caption competitions. Annabel was one womens' magazine that regularly published that sort of photograph. I bought a year-long pass to Blackpool Zoo and spent hours waiting for animals to yawn, as this made them look as though they were laughing or singing!

In 1986 I had three photographs in the 1986 Blackpool Gazette calendar, including the front cover. It is the only photo I have showing the inflatable King Kong that was tied to the front of the Tower in 1985!

Then work began to take more of my time up, and I let the photographs slide a bit until the Internet made me sit up and take notice around 1994. Many of the articles I had written became part of my website.

Have a look. You'll find all the curiosity articles and the history of Blackpool Trams and countless others. Nowadays the web site only gets updated very rarely and my writing tends to be limited to this blog or for work-related publication. Many photographs are available large size from Flickr.

But there's a novel in the drawer, waiting for me to have a bit of time to spruce it up. Who knows? I may publish the first couple of chapters on a blog and then invite you to buy the rest!

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