Searching Out Stock Photos

Does the cost of stock photography sometimes leave you reeling? Join the club! I’ve been shopping for and using stock photos for over 25 years and there are still times the price tag can leave me speechless.


Not surprising then that so many of us end up Googling phrases like “free stock photos” or “hi-res free photos.”  Of course then you get the results from that search and find yourself shocked at how bad some of the “free stock photo” offerings are. Well, maybe not so shocking if you subscribe to the “you get what you pay for” school of thought. But even taking that into account, some of them are breathtakingly bad.

Luckily there are increasingly good places to find high quality, absolutely free stock photos. I provide a few below. Some appreciate credit but do not require it. But all are free.

Continue reading “Searching Out Stock Photos”

Mid-Holidays Drive By Update

Busy busy – always with the busy. And yet, better busy than bored I say so I won’t apologize for the busy. I can only say that I am hoping to be better in 2014 at finding time to blog.

Been doing a lot of interesting freelance work, including

  • editing a super novel (which though not my particular genre of choice) was nonetheless utterly engaging and enjoyable and I cannot wait to visit the alternate version of New York created as the backdrop for the stories.
  • several stints working on food and lifestyle websites of a major supermarket chain for London content marketing agency. A week in London here and there is always fun. Also useful from a shopping point of view. Also enjoyed seeing some of the “behind the scenes” logistics of these types of sites nowadays. Things haven’t changed much since earlier my web management days. In some cases that’s good – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But in some ways … well, suffice to say that the relationship between techies and client management remains as it largely always has been.

Doing a lot of reading and yet, the “to be read” (TBR) pile grows and grows. I am currently reading “Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat” by Bee Wilson. VERY interesting and well written. Much food for thought (it was an obvious line – you would have taken it too) about everything from gadgets to forks, cooking methods and containers. The culinary list (one of the more robust sections of the TBR pile) contains:

  • A History of English Food by Clarissa Dickson Wright (who isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and sometimes, if I am honest, isn’t mine but she has a VIEW and I’m interested in finding out more about it)
  • Taste: The Story of Britain Through Its Cooking by Kate Colquhoun which was recommended to me, not by a foodie reader, but by a lover of language who said it was worth it just to delve into the impact of food on language. The word nerd in me snapped it up.
  • Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky – between this and Spice, I’ve got the spice cupboard covered 🙂 But having THOROUGHLY enjoyed Kurlansky’s Food of a Younger Land (winner of the longest subtitle in history *), I had to grab this when I saw it.

I’ve got a non-culinary TBR pile as well – full of mostly memoirs at the moment. I go through phases and looking at things via the lives of notable individuals is one that crops up from time to time.
And finally – a bit of site seeing. As you know, I like to share links of interest when I find them and as I have been SO remiss in keeping you updated, I have quite a few this time.

  • 38 Wonderful Foreign Words We Could Use in English – via mental_floss, one of the great sources for my word nerding needs. I mean, they also provided the very interesting 7 Common Words With Little-Known Relatives
  • Came across a description for Write-A-House, a different kind of writer’s residency program – and of course, popped over to the Write House site to see what it was all about. Not that I am planning a move to Detroit. After the last move, I’m moving NO WHERE anytime soon. But it’s an idea with scope, I’ll give them that. Be interesting to see how it evolves long term. Basic idea? Help fix up a house and live there rent free so that you can work on writing. The house will be 80 percent habitable and the writer-in-residence will be required to fix up the rest.”
  • Everyone seemed to be taking the “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk” quiz at some point – and I did as well. But I think I broke it. The truth is, my speech pattern is all over the board – not because we moved all over the place but because I grew up speech pattern, was raised in that place by two people with speech patterns from somewhere else and was surrounded by people all the time with patterns from even more places. Rubber ear and brain engaged and the result is – I use regionalisms of all kinds with no rhyme or reason.
  • I saw this and I knew I had to have it. The Book Map

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

*The Food of a Younger Land: A portrait of American food – before the national highway system, before chain restaurants, and before frozen food, when the nation’s food was seasonal, regional and traditional – from the lost WPA files

News Peruse: June 17, 2013

I’ve been quite the whirlwind of activity lately and that means I’ve fallen a tad behind on my reading from around the biz. Today is my catch up day and I though you all might like to tag along while I peruse the news of the last few days from the world of publishing, marketing and all points digital.

Marketers Are Not Publishing Enough Content – via the blogs at Harvard Business Review

The article asks in regards to the quality vs. quantity debate: “Why can’t brands create a lot of high quality content?” and my answer is they don’t want to pay for it. Some will, of course but many take the “how hard can it be” position and either DIY it or go for the lowest possible bidder. Result? Spotty at best – but then, you get what you pay for.

The Slow Media Manifesto – via Pando Daily article, The Opportunity for Slow Media

I found this whole idea fascinating. It touched on things I’d been noodling about (without wholly realizing I’d been noodling about them). With so many channels, so many people on those channels and all of them trying to GET THERE FIRST or POST THE MOST – media output from all this risks becoming just so much white noise. If we’re honest, for a lot of the intended audience, it’s already become just that. So what is the answer? You can’t put the toothpaste – or Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, etc – back in the tube. And no one is suggesting we do so. But there must be a way to have both the snippets, the bites, the fast and dirty along with the robust, the detailed, the involved. Like the social media version of long form journalism. The mechanism exists. They always have. It’s a question of training (or retraining) the audience who have come to accept and embrace the fast to the exclusion of the slow. Maybe it’s not a question of audience behavior and expectation. Those who want “slow media” or for that matter long form journalism will seek it out. So maybe it’s not about training an audience to want it (or retaining them to want it again) but about serving an audience who is already out there but undeserved. In which case, it’s about making it more widely available and therefore easier to find

Conjuring Cohesion and Purpose: How Ursula Nordstrom Cultivated Maurice Sendak’s Genius via the always interesting Brainpickings

“Yes, Moby Dick is great, but honestly don’t you see great gobs of it that could come out?” Yes, the great Ursula Nordstrom and I are on the same page there <g> But seriously, this is a wonderful letter – conversational, motivational and encouraging ALL at the same time. And, of course, beautifully written. No one writes letter like this anymore. Pity.

 The Librarian’s List – happily discovered on Pinterest

Described as “a list of our most beloved books, “bookish” quotes, and book lists created by librarians for librarians and the world” – this has kept me delightfully occupied for FAR too long lately. I have just started compiling my own recommended bookshelf on Pinterest so it was LOVELY to find this. Daunting yes as it is so much better curated and vastly bigger than mine. But oh so inspiring. A great use of Pinterest, too.

Bookstores! Not news per se but an item of interest. I am always on the lookout for new bookstores of all kinds (and being only a short train ride to Oxford, this quest is easier than ever. The town is full not only of students, bikes, tourists and history around every corner. It’s FULL of bookstores and I wanted to mention the two that have been tempting me (and terrifying my bookshelves) of late:

The Last Bookshop – what a sad name, right? But you don’t stay sad for long and here’s why. Every book in the place is £2. That’s right. EVERY BOOK. It’s a remainders shop but unlike most remainders shops (full of books that are remaindered because you couldn’t imagine anyone buying them in the first place no matter how discounted, this one stocks remainders and returns largely from literary and specialist publishers. Lots of classics, a nice selection of university press stuff, quality non-fiction. That said, there is also a nice sized children’s section with plenty of offerings from mainstream trade presses and a very interesting cookery books section that I will showing to my mother (the great cookbook collector) next time she is visiting.

Blackwells – which we have ALL heard of (at least we should have) and which I have been to many times since moving to the UK. I have yet to not discover something new and fabulous on every trip. Last time I spent more time than usual in the Posters and Art shop (located across the street from the main bookshop) and I have PLANS for the walls in every room of this house as a result.  But the Art and Poster shop isn’t just posters and postcards. They have a gorgeous and really impressive stock of art, photography and film titles as well. If I won the lottery, I can guarantee that a goodly portion of my first installment would be spent here. If you can’t get there right away, you can take a virtual tour of the main bookshop on Broad Street.

And now, back to your (and my) regularly over-scheduled day. Check back soon for more updates and another episode of “News Peruse.”

Check out the latest from Modern Parlance Press!


Dear Recruiter: The Saga Continues…

If you had told me when I started this that I was going to find so many mistakes and examples of shoddy writing across so wide a range of ads, that some would continue to appear over and over and over – I’d have called you crazy. Sure, not everyone is as fussy about clarity as I am. OK, some of my gripes are – possibly – subjective. And some of them I include because they have left an open door to a laugh. But the vast majority of them are just plain carelessness. My headache? Let me show it to you:


Now look – I know everyone makes typos now and again. I do myself. We all do. But what’s evident in a lot of these cases is that not only are they not proofreading, they aren’t even noticing when their spellcheck or other systems are telling them it’s wrong.  And so – on to “episode 4” of Dear Recruiter.

  • Dear Recruiter: Let us pass lightly over the fact that the word you want in your headline is ‘forefront’, not ‘fore front’ and go straight to a discussion about the first sentence of your ad. You know, the one:  “With the a constant flow of new clients wins the agency in urgent need of savvy executive to join the team and supports with the increased work load.”  There is almost nothing right about that sentence. Small children would have to WORK to produce a sentence so shoddy. I can only assume that your client never sees the ads you produce or – possibly even more depressing – doesn’t care how they appear.
  • Dear Recruiter: “Its a varied and exciting roll for someone with flair and love of social. Get in touch.” – where do I even begin?
  • Dear Recruiter: Phrases like “outstanding opportunity for a creative thought leader in the social space” make me want to start drinking before lunch.
  • Dear Prestigious Scientific Publisher: In regards to the Senior Editor position at your internationally renowned, flagship medical journal, you indicate that “meidcal knowledge really is a prerequisite” and “some editorial experience would be an asset.” Your standards are slipping but not as low as your spelling.
  • Dear Recruiter: I admit to being stymied. How does one “liaise with professional pears?” Is it different than liaising with amateur pears or – say – apples?
  • Dear Recruiter: I concede that “The world is evolving and the way brands comunicate online is changing” but I posit that some things – like the spelling of communicate – don’t change.
  • Dear Recruiter: Under location, you state: London or North America (United Kingdom). One of us is confused and I don’t think it’s me.
  • Dear Recruiter: I read “As a member of the ‘Engage’ team, you will ultimately report into the Head of Engage” and all I can think is that either English isn’t your first language or you work in an entire office of people unable to read. Or both.
  • Dear Company Redacted: You want someone “who was born digital” and that’s too bad. My mom isn’t hugely tech savvy so I was born the old fashioned way.
  • Dear Recruiter: You say you need someone with “an ability to generate compelling concepts as well breathtaking designs” but you also appear to need someone with the ability to proofread.
  • Dear Recruiter: The use of “brilliant” 7 times in 3 paragraphs of job description and requirements is 5 too many, if I am feeling generous, and 6 too many on days ending in a ‘y’
  • Dear Recruiter: Head of Execution? Are you SURE?
  • Dear Recruiter: You want a “Legendary Marketing Manager?” I confess stories of my exploits are told and retold but I don’t know if they have reached the lofty heights of LEGEND yet. Ask around …
  • Dear Recruiter: I am interested to know what a RONT END WEB DEVELOPER might be.
  • Dear Recruiter: No, I’m sorry. I won’t be applying for this position as you have used the word “synergies” & a girl must have her standards.
  • Dear Recruiter: I feel certain that my lack of direct industry experience is more than made up for by my passionate enthusiasm for the product. I would be HONORED to be the new Vodka Program Manager for Europe.
  • Dear HR: Head of News and Social Media for the Meteorological Office? Um… “It may rain. It may not. Chance of sun in morning. Or maybe afternoon.” There. How’s that?
  • Dear Recruiter: You appear to have the correct number of apostrophes in the job listing but none of them in the right place.
  • Dear Recruiter: Just FYI – your caplock key is stuck.
  • Dear Recruiter: Something is either a start-up or it is not. Well, OK, something might be growing out of the start up phase but that doesn’t make it “start-upish.”
  • Dear Recruiter: Congratulations! You are the first one I’ve seen to use the word “stonkingly” in an ad. Kudos!
  • Dear Recruiter: While the Internal Communications Management role you have with your “Central Government client” is probably very interesting, I feel it wouldn’t be in ANYONE’S best interest to put me within “rant’s reach” of Central Government.
  • Dear Recruiter: Many of your ads begin, “This a business with an exciting brand… ” IS! YOU FORGOT THE “IS!” You have been using this same freaking text in all your ads for months. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, FIX IT!
  • Dear Recruiter: I think you meant “board level interaction” not “bored level interaction.” But I don’t like to assume… care to clarify?
  • Dear Recruiter: I’d be a great ‘Head of Complaints.’ I’ve been complaining for YEARS; it’s almost second nature. Where do I sign? Oh… oh, I see. Never mind.
  • Dear Recruiter: You want someone to craft “strategic solutions across carious accounts” but until I know what carious accounts are, I am afraid I cannot help you.
  • Dear Recruiter: When you say you want someone with “Experience in manipulating media” – I presume you mean pictures or video, not journalists. Not that I object to manipulating journalists… I was just looking for clarification on this point.

Related Posts:

Dear Recruiter: The Write Stuff

I thought about calling this post, “Dear Recruiter: Proofing isn’t just for Bread Dough” but that seemed a bit long and a bit of a stretch just to get  a picture of twinkly-eyed Paul Hollywood on the screen.


What? Oh – sorry, US people. Paul Hollywood. See what I did there? Hi, Paul. *

Still, it’s not inaccurate to say that there’s a lot more proofing going on in bakeries than in recruitment offices and (to be fair ) HR departments. I call this series “Dear Recruiter” but that’s partially due to Twitter-related convenience – “recruiter” being a lot shorter than “company redacted” – and partially because that vast majority of ads I see are placed by recruitment agencies.

But regardless of who is responsible for the text, they are also responsible for the state of the text, the quality or lack thereof. So whether you are a recruiter (or as I suspect in some cases just happen to be sitting in the recruiter’s office because you needed a job) or an HR professional, I remind you that while it is important applicants check their CVs and cover letters to make a good first impression, you all are making an impression as well. And from this vantage point, it’s not always a good one.  And now, the latest round-up of Dear Recruiter.

  • Dear Geographically Challenged Recruiter: Just FYI – London and New London are SO not the same thing.
  • Dear Recruiter: Could you translate “oversee embedment of marketing staff within projects” from consultant speak to English, please? Thanks
  • Dear Recruiter: Waiting/Weighting. Learn the difference.
  • Dear {Company Redacted}: If you want people reading job boards to apply on your site, you need a place on your site for them to do so.
  • Dear Recruiter: 4 hyphens in 10 words is too many. Have some decaf and try again.
  • Dear Recruiter: I don’t have a “greatest sociel media achievement.” And frankly, neither does anyone else.
  • I see they are in need of a Supervisor for the Men’s Dressing Room at Wimbledon. Well, HELLLOOOOOOOOOO gentlemen. I’d be … oh, OH! Sorry,. I thought it was something else. Never mind.
  • Dear Recruiter: You want to “harness hero bloggers?” Harness? HERO bloggers? In case they try & leap tall buildings in a single bound?
  • Dear {Company Redacted} Should applicants for Associate Director of Merdia know what ‘merdia’ means or is that part of on the job training?
  • Dear Recruiter: I don’t know if I “want to rite for one of UK’s gastest growing sports wesbites” because it’s almost gibberish. PROOFREAD!
  • Dear Recruiter: Listing ‘defend the integrity of the copywriters’ as a key responsibility of the Content Manager begs the question – what the HELL is going on at that marketing agency?
  • Dear Recruiter: I’m intrigued by a position designed to “deliver up to date curses.” I’ve only delivered courses myself…
  • Dear {Company Redacted}, you want a “Digital Marketing Rockstar?’ Consider offering more than a “Digital Marketing Roadie” salary.
  • Dear Recruiter: You want as editor “able to undertake research using sources” – as opposed to using what? divining rods?
  • Dear Recruiter: When last I checked, Iowa was NOT in the UK. Please check your atlas & try again. I’m sure we’d have heard if it had moved.

And that, my friends, is this week’s installment of Dear Recruiter. If you missed Parts 1 (Dear Recruiter… All in the Details) and 2 (Son of Dear Recruiter, The Hunt Continues), they remain available for your job hunting entertainment.

* Nope, there’s no other reason for Paul being there than I wanted to see him.

Son of Dear Recruiter, The Hunt Continues

Despite having other projects on hand (and really enjoying them by the way so expect to see my burbling about those soon), the job hunt continues and so do the horrific spelling and logistical hiccups in the job advertisements. So, I present the sequel to my very popular Dear Recruiter… All in the Details

  • Dear Recruiter: I wish to bring two items to your attention. 1) One can have a ‘sales background’, not a ‘sale background’ and 2) using nine exclamation points exceeds normal standards. Considerably.
  • Dear Recruiter: Not quite sure how to take “Wealth” being included under “Desired Skills & Experience”
  • Dear Recruiter: The only thing under “key skills” for the Content Manager role is “Strong reading ability essential.” That’s one LOW set bar
  • Dear Recruiter: The answer to ‘job location’ really SHOULD be more specific than ‘England.”
  • Dear {Company Redacted} Digital Delight Manager? Oh really!
  • Dear {Company Redacted}: You can certainly have “an up & coming asocial media manager” if you want but that sounds like trouble to me.
  • Dear Recruiter: £250000000 – £350000000 per annum + benefits? I’ll take it! No, no YOU said £250000000 – £350000000. Typos are YOUR fault.
  • THREAT MANAGER! At last, the job of my dreams! Yes? It means what? Oh… never mind.
  • Dear Recruiter: Before I commit to being “flexable,” I would need you to tell me what it means.
  • Dear {Company Redacted}: No, sorry – I have yet to find a bank that will take deposits of “sweat equity.”
  • Read Company Redacted: If you have to explain your hipsterism (Your ‘t-shaped specialism’ is social AKA social is the thing you are passionate about that you will contribute to make this team better, stronger, more interesting, etc. ) – consider using English instead. Oh and try using it properly. SHEESH!
  • Dear Recruiter: Project Manager & Account Director? Then I trust there are two salaries as well. ‘Cause that one you list? Sufficient for one of those positions
  • Dear {Company Redacted} You clearly need help with either the Internet or your Intranet. But I can’t tell which if you spell it Intrenet.
  • Dear Recruiter: Blogger Manager? You want someone to manage bloggers? If they’re like the bloggers I know – I wish you all the best. Oy!
  • Dear {Company Redacted}: I can accept that “fast-paced” may be an accurate description of your workplace but surely “exciting” is subjective
  • Dear Recruiter: Head of People might be something I’d consider taking on – provided the scope was broad enough and I was given authority to institute REAL changes across the board. And by across the board, I mean WORLD DOMINATION, obviously.
  • Dear {Company Redacted} – if you really want your “innovative work showcased in the best way possible” stop bleating on about PowerPoint
  • Dear Recruiter: You want a ‘professional looking to develop their carer’ but don’t say develop their carer into what? Or rather whom?
  • Dear {Company Redacted} Bespoke Copywriter? As opposed to … ?
  • Dear Recruiter: I’m not sure “Ability to complete duties as assigned” belongs under ‘secondary functions.’
  • Dear Recruiter: Hope your top law firm client doesn’t see “Developing good working relations with individuals in order that you can advice.”
  • Dear Recruiter, I present (w/o comment) your wrap up from your Writer Wanted post: Onlyaplicants with the relevent experinece need apply.
  • Dear Recruiter: I’m interested in the “Employee Branding Manager” role. I’m sure you meant “Employer Branding” but that’s not nearly as fun.
  • Dear Recruiter: You list “rapport building with senor management” as desired skill but make no mention of ability to spell. Projecting much?

Dear Recruiter… All in the Details

I have recently had reason to peruse many online job listing websites and I don’t mind telling you, I have a few POINTED things to say to the recruiters and HR posters. First – spelling and grammar matter. Second – proofreading isn’t (or shouldn’t be) optional.

  • Dear Recruiter: You are NOT e.e. cummings (at least, I presume you aren’t as he has been dead since ’62) so USE YOUR DAMNED CAP KEY
  • Sorry, {Company Redcated} Gap but there’s a limit to online hoops I’ll jump thru to register with a company’s site simply for privilege of applying for a job. You reached it. I wish you well in finding that Marketing and Social Media guru you are looking for.
  • Dear Recruiter: Stop with the “salary is competitive” bullsh*t. Give me a number & I’ll decide that myself. It’s like the job hunt equivalent of when house listings don’t include floorplans.
  • Dear Recruiter: I’m sure you really meant to say “Experienced” but I wish there was a job called “Experience Dispenser” – cause here are some experiences that I’d like to dispense to a few folks…
  • This is a Public Service Announcement – yesterday’s childish thread and sniggering over innuendo-laden job postings is likely to continue today. It is, after all, Friday and the first that I saw on the list was “Penetration Specialist”
  • Hmmm, ‘Liaison Executive’ you say. At the same firm that was advertising for a ‘Penetration Specialist’ this morning. I can only hope the office is half as fun as the job titles. They aren’t, but I can hope.
  • Dear Recruiter: Before posting that your client is “seeking Head of Quality” – say it out loud. Go on. Did you laugh? So did I. Just saying.
  • Dear Recruiter: Content Improvement Manager? Oh right – we used to call that an Editor. *eye roll*
  • Dear Recruiter: Your client isn’t ‘focusssed’ or if they are, they aren’t focused too closely on the quality of their recruitment provider.
  • Dear {Company Redacted}, you get what you pay for. As a result, you cannot have me & will end up with someone significantly less fabulous.
  • Dear Recruiter: I’m no expert but I am pretty sure accountants are CHARTERED not CHARTED.
  • Dear Recruiter: You can’t just list “Group Head” as the title of a job listing and expect me NOT to ROTFLMAO
  • Dear Recruiter: my commucation skills aren’t so good but my communication skills are spot on. Will that suffice?
  • Seriously {Company Redacted}? You quote your Wikipedia entry in your job listings? I don’t even know what to say to that… well, other than “Seriously {Company Redacted}?”
  • Whoever is writing the job listings for {Company Redacted} must be getting paid by the word.
  • Dear UK Cabinet Office: I see that you have several project management positions available. I considered briefly applying but conclude that you – and most of your departmental colleagues – are not ready to be managed by the likes of me. So I have decided to spare you. For now. You’re welcome — Me.
  • How does any recruiter or any keyword algorithm get to my CV & decide “Hey, this is the physics teacher applicant I’ve been waiting for!” Seriously?
  • Oral. Care. Manager. *BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA*
  • Dear Recruiter, reflect for a moment on the difference between “Intelligence Officer” and “Intelligent Officer.” Take your time. I’ll wait.
  • Dear Recruiter: Use all caps all you want but no matter how FUNKY and EDGY you think your agency is, the salaries you offer scream CHEAP just as loudly.

News Peruse: Near and Far

Near: A look across the Modern Parlance blogosphere, including the latest posts from the Fabulous Foodie and Greater Gotham: Going Global.

Far: Even with so much happening at Modern Parlance these days (eBook projects, blogging and critical decisions about paint colors) eating into a lot of time, I’ve always got time for a some site seeing for your reading pleasure. So here are some of the links from across the media landscape that I’ve been pondering and discussing.


Mapping By The Book

6 years ago, the New York Times published the Literary Map of Manhattan, illustrating where books and stories that take place in Manhattan – well, took place. I loved it. I loved how Manhattan and some of my favorite works fit together. I even enjoyed seeing how it fit with stuff that was not one of my favorites (for I confess, I am NOT a Melville fan). And now, I see that the British Library has done something similar – called Writing Britain – for the whole of Britain. It’s a crowd sourced supplement to their exhibit of the same name. As I said – it’s a similar idea but with a key difference. It’s not just the geographic breadth that is different however – it’s the breadth of entries themselves. The people at the BL have asked people to select and submit works that personally represent or have been shaped by a place – and have asked them to explain why. The Manhattan map was simply factual. This is a series of mini-stories in and of themselves. Fabulous!

The exhibit at the BL closes on Sept 25th (see the video preview below) but this site will carry on afterwards. Which is great because as I continue exploring my new home from coast to coast, I may want to “read along” with the locals.