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Fleet Street Press Photographer Lingo

One of our members, Peter Smith, is an ex Fleet Street press photographer and photo editor. Reading the comments on the article we linked to here prompted him to send in this information on some of the language they used. He says.

I dug out a cutting penned by one of our reporters on the special language, (not all of it printable) that was used by Fleet Street photographers. And yes it was true of the time when Fleet Street had a lot of amazing characters.

Remember every story there would be at least a dozen photographers on the assignment.

This is what was penned, (well some of the usable bits).

This translation is for the benefit of those who, in the course of their business, have the misfortune to be involved in conversation with Fleet Street Press Photographers.

And here is the lingo.

  • Nokkit on de ‘ed and legit — Please pull out of the assignment.
  • Elbow dis one — As above.
  • Onya toes — Also as above.
  • F4 — A photographic term relating to exposure
  • F off! — A photographic term relating to over exposure.
  • Flash — A flashgun or, or the light their from
  • Flash B…..! — A rich person exhibiting poor taste
  • Free Undrid — A long lens
  • Dubbla — A device to multiply an image by two
  • Dubble Bubble — A device to multiply an income, (expenses), by two
  • Stick — A colloquial term for a monopod, (As in Nikon onna stick).
  • Winnder — An elevated position
  • Tenner Ferra Winnder — Payment for above
  • Snatch pic — Photograph taken of unsuspecting person, (I snatched ‘im dinneye);
  • Eez bin secret squirrel — He had not been forthcoming in the pooling of information.
  • Blunt — A member of the writing press corps.
  • Ping — Electronic method of sending photographic image for reproduction. (long before Digital cameras)
  • Pinger — A machine to facilitate above; sometimes known as “Pockit Rockit”. Needs to be yelled at and whistled down to function correctly). See also- “You pinged anyfink today”? “Where you pingin from den” and “Dis pinger’s @*/ u/s”.
  • Relating to picture quality:
    • Smudge — Poor quality
    • A bit smudgy — Poor but usable
    • Pin — In good focus
    • A bleedin bellringer mate — excellent quality of definition
  • Picher(s) — A photograph never pronounced with a T.
  • Toys — Camera equipment.
  • Dog — Telephone (as in dog & bone)
  • Only a bleedin girl — Any female photographers. (Sorry ladies)
  • You wot, you wot, you wot? — I beg your pardon.
  • Bish Bash Bosh — Description of three photographs taken in rapid succession.
  • Donk — Signifies the accomplishment of a mission to take a photograph- (as in “I got ‘im donk”).
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2 Responses

  1. How very interesting and amusing! Probably spoken at such a speed that one wouldn’t have been able to understand it anyway! Thanks for sharing!

  2. A lot of these sound like Cockney or London slang and don’t seem to have a specific root in photography. Interesting though.

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