But it was interesting for me, too, though, as Liz's job title is Professor in Photographic Culture. She is adamantly not a photographer; she has established herself as a facilitator, curator, historian and theorist of photography, with several books to her credit which are required reading on photography degree courses worldwide. She knows and is known to pretty much everybody who is anybody in photographic education, which these days includes a large number of eminent "practitioners".
So-called "networking" is a curious thing. It's very much the way of the modern world. Kids are expected to "network" their way into employment (we used to call this "nepotism"), first in unpaid internships (we used to call this "exploitation") and then into career paths where the ruthless use of contacts is expected and encouraged (we used to call this "climbing the greasy-pole"). This is another game I have never been much interested in playing. On reflection, having Liz in the house was, I suppose, a major networking opportunity. But I was happy to make the tea, put food on the table, and swap photo-gossip.
I suppose this could seem like a self-limiting form of pride. Here I am; here is my work; take it or leave it. But I prefer it that way. There's a reason so many eminent artist-photographers have ended up teaching in colleges and universities: there's no living to be made otherwise. Apart from that fortunate handful, there are many thousands of wannabes out there networking themselves to nowhere, and hardly making any worthwhile work in the meantime. I'm happy to stay out of their way.
A handsome face, that fine young man,
and deep his knowledge of the Classics and the Histories.
All call him Elder,
all grant him the title of Scholar...
But he doesn't have a post yet...
and he has no knowledge of planting and reaping.
Winter's here. All he owns is the ragged cloak
he uses to cover his books, not himself.
Han Shan, Cold Mountain Poems XLVI, translated by J.P. Seaton