Monkeyspeak: What photographers really mean


FLASH HARRYS: Photographers move in for a picture of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr as he goes into hospital to have his tonsils removed in December 1964. Bottom middle, in grey hair and glasses, is Bob Dean of Associated Press, bottom right is Frank Hudson of the Daily Mail, top middle is Sid Biddell and top right is Harry Sheldrake of Barretts.

Picture: Fox Photos/Getty

By PAUL HARRIS of the Press Association who spent a lifetime with the lensmen of Fleet Street

“FaaaaaaaaaaaKinnell: ”Good gracious me.

“Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah”: Possibly

“Nokkit on de ‘ead and leggit” Pull out of this assignment

“Elbow dis” - (See above)

“Onya toes” - (See above)

Dis is a pileashit - tubbit: This print is not of the quality desired by the Press Association. Kindly place it on the picture spike.

F4: Term relating to photographic exposure

F off : A photographic term relating to positioning.

Flash: A photographic flash, or light therefrom.

Flash bastard: Rich person exhibiting poor taste.

“Bollux”: I’m sorry: I beg to differ.

Uplight: A light designed to “bounce” off the ceiling.

Up yours: A suggestion to cause immense pain.

Free 'undred: A long lens

Five ‘undred: A fucking long lens

Double: Device designed to multiply lens focal length by two.

Double bubble: Device designed to multiply income by two.

Stick: Colloquial term for monopod, a steadying device for a camera (as in Nikon on a stick)

Winnder: Elevated position

Tenna ferra winnder: Payment for above.

Getcha arse off me laddercunt: Territorial claim; derivation obscure.

StakeoutGathering of photographic colleagues awaiting person or persons in order to secure a


Steak sandwich: Eaten by “dem cunts from ITN” on stake-outs, and never shared with stills photographers.

Snatch pic: Photograph taken of unsuspecting persons (“I snatched ‘im, dinneye?” or Mayfair Centrefold.)

Eeez been secret squirrel: “He has not been forthcoming in the pooling of information.

Blunt: Member of the writing press corps. Often referred to as "My blunt”.

Ping: Electronic method of sending photographic negative for reproduction.

Pinger: Machine to facilitate the above. Sometimes known as “pocket rocket. Needs to be shouted at and whistled down to function correctly.


Picture Quality:

1) Smudge: Poor quality

2) A bit smudgy: Poor but useable.

3) Pin: in good focus

4) Fakkin pin: In fucking good focus.

5) A bleedin' bellringer, mate: Excellent quality of definition and tone.


Piccher(s): A photograph. Never pronounced with a T.

Gissaneg: We were photographically unrepresented on this assignment and would appreciate the opportunity to publish a picture. (Usually followed by financial negotiation.)

Scissorjob: Activity facilitating the above.

A fakkin no-no: A person who is not instantly recognisable and who has not been in the news during the previous 24 hours, See also: "Oooooo? Nevereardovim.”

Toys: Camera equipment. Blunts may occasionally be asked: "‘ere, old me toys - bustinfera piss.”

Jamjar: Car.

Jammy dog: Car phone in jamjar, dog and bone.

Bell: Verb. To telephone.

Ding Dong: Ron Bell, revered PA Coourt Photographer

“Only a bleeding’ girl”: A female photographer.

“Youwot-youwot-youwot?” Pardon?

“Oi, Una palerma blanco por favor": Excuse me waiter, may I have a blank bill?

“Whorrrr Give ‘er one!”: What an attractive young girl.

“Fukdat foragameasoldiers”: “No thanks."

Bish Bash Bosh: Three photographs taken in rapid succession, usually by motor drive.

Donk: Signifies the accomplishment of a mission to take single photograph, usually explained by finger on shutter hand gesture.

“Bungit darna tube”: Kindly send this down to the picture department via the internal message chute.

Ixy - PA Picture Editor Paddy Hicks.



 (Royal Monkeyspeak – Species: Rhesus Regal):

ARPA: Arthur Edwards, Princess Diana's favourite Royal photographer.

'EE DUN AN ARPA': He skied over a cliff.



BAKED BEAN BROWN BREAD OFFICIAL: Sun headline, circa 2023.

MILL: An evening out at a restaurant.

CRACKIN MILL: A very nice evening out at a restaurant.

ALL-DAY SIZZLA: Meal and/or restaurant favoured by photographers.

JACK: Jack and Jill - bill.

'APPY JACK: A blank bill.

KANT: A person of little worth.

FROG KANTS: The French Press.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS: The German Press.

Multi-national welcome for foreign press partaking in royal photocall.

WASHERS: Designated name for any foreign coinage.

PHIL: The Duke of Edinburgh.

FILL: What 'Blunts' give each other.

'GISSA FILL, DARLIN': Hello, may I fondle your breasts?

WOCH-OP: Expensive jewellers where photographers purchase vulgar watches. Compulsory on royal tours.

THE DOG'S BOLLOCKS: The very best that there is. Sometimes shortened to 'Bollo'.

A WANNARR: A shop which will develop films within one hour.

NUT THE PILLER: Go to sleep.


RIP VAN WINKLIN: Having an unduly long sleep.

LEICA: Prized camera.

LEICA DOG WIV TWO DICKS: Behaving in excited fashion.

'OK NAR - FREE, TOO, WUN EAR-WIGGO': Secret code spoken to picture desk executives when Pingin (For 'Pingin' see Monkeyspeak Vol 1)


A LOADA BOLLOCK-BRAINS: Picture Desk executives assigned to receive Pinged pix.

MAGENTA: A colour which always has to be sent again when Pingin.

FREIGHT 'EM: An old-fashioned method of transporting film.

PAKKIT: Container in which film is transported.

FAKKIT: Expression of despair.

BACKER DA BOOK: Unfavourable placement of royal photographs within the newspaper. (Example: 'Wochor lot dun wivvit den?' - I'm in der backerdabook.'

WUN, FREE ANNA SPREAD. Extremely favourable placement of Royal photographs within newspaper.

'CAM ON YOO RE-EDS!': Tribal chant. Derivation obscure.

TWO PORK PIES SHORT OF A PICNIC: A person of limited intellect.

BARKIN: Mentally unbalanced.

ASSLE-BLAD: Camera, or state-of-the-art pinger.

ASSOLE BLED: Medical complaint suffered by Daily Star reporter - (never to be discussed during 'Mill').

A WOLFIE: An unattributable briefing.

A DICKIE: An unusable briefing.

FAKKIN GOSPEL: Information from a member of the Royal Family.

DORIS: Any female.

SOME BLEEDIN DORIS: A representative of any British embassy abroad.

A COMPLETE DORIS: A man who is not to be trusted.

OFF PISTE: Where the Royal Family go.

ON THE PISTE: Where the Royal Rat Pack go.

'JEW MEMBER DAT TIME IN BANGKOK?' - Start of a very boring anecdote.

'JEW MEMBER DAT TIME IN KLOSTERS?' Start of an even more boring anecdote.

'YOU GOIN BRAZIL (etc)?': Start of extremely boring logistic planning discussion.

TITE EDS: Members of the Royal Family pictured close together.

GENSTER LIGHT: Where the Royal Family always stand.

FERSILLITY: A photo-opportunity where you are unlikely to be shot dead.

SNATCH FROM THE BUSHES: A photo opportunity where you are extremely likely to be shot dead.

PAPPS: Unscrupulous freelances; or any photographers who bring the profession into disrepute by disregarding rules of play. Often get better pictures and make vast income.

WOODY: See above.

SHARIN: Working in tandem with one's colleagues.

SQUIRRILIN: Not working in tandem with one's colleagues.

STITCHIN: Pretending to work in tandem with one's colleagues, whilst simultaneously pursuing an exclusive picture.

STITCHES: Hospital treatment needed by those who practise the above.

DEFFWATCH: An excuse to stay for long periods in exotic locations at huge expense to employers, without having to produce a picture for publication.




 (incorporating Rhesus Technos)

NEGS-R-US: Designated title of a co-operative set up with a view to analysing and exchanging negatives. (See 'sharin' and 'gissaneg', passim). One photographer's hotel bedroom can be assigned as 'The Swop Shop' to act as headquarters for said transactions.

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS: Secret Codename given to chief operative or field agent of above agreement.

DAT SHIFTY KANT: Secret codename given to photographer who refuses to take part in the agreement. See also: 'I'll Avim'.

Y or IE: Added to photographer's name or nickname to show that he has been embraced into the
camaradarie. Examples: Beastie, Woody, Backy, Cairnsy, Ocky, Frankie-lankie-lankie.

Exceptions: Son of Beast, Gavvers, Dodger.

THE PROF: Title given to Martin Keane, PA, in tribute to the elementary understanding of computers and electronics which allows him to lead the blind.

SURESHOT: Camera preferred by photographers when picture is likely to be non-award winning (ie almost all the time). Still essential to carry 25 kilos of clanking Nikons, Canons, Leicas etc around neck while using sureshot (See Street Cred).

Blunts are sometimes entrusted with photographers' Sureshots (See 'Getting yourself out of the shit').

Blunts sometimes carry their own Sureshots and send images direct to picture desk (See 'Get the Fukkin little shit').

STEVE BACK: Daily Mail photographer, known as Lord Back; much-travelled.

BILL BACK: Mythical photographer with whom everyone wants to travel.

WEDGE: An advance of cash given to photographers before embarking on a foreign trip. See also 'Lids up front', 'Wonga' and 'Luvvly Luvvly Luvvly'.

RE-WEDGING: The art of convincing the office in London that more 'Lids' are needed to continue a foreign assignment. Often facilitated by Macking note to pic desk proclaiming: 'Send more Wonga'.

MUKKY STRASSE: Street which photographers must always find when abroad in order to immerse themselves in local culture.

JIGGY JIGGY: Believed to be a dance of tribal origin, always carried out in Mukky Strasse. Definition unclear as 'Blunts' are never invited on Jiggy Jiggy Jaunts.

'IT MAY SAY CHABLIS ON THE LABEL, BUT IT DOESN'T SAY CHABLIS ON THE PALATE.': Legendary appraisal of aircraft wine by Bill Rowntree, Daily Mirror. Phrase guaranteed to clear any restaurant/plane/bar/hotel of other photographers.

FAKKIN: Adjective without which no fakkin sentence is complete.

MACKIN: Verb to describe process of sending photographic images down telephone line using Apple Mac.

RE-BOOTING: Technical term used to describe (a): Resetting computer parameters; or (b): Buying new Timberlands on expenses.

HIROSHIMA FACTOR: The point at which a hotel's switchboard melts due to excessive number of photographers using/abusing/re-wiring telephone system simultaneously. (Hilton? Naahhh. We broke it last time).

EYPEE-DEE: The Electronic Picture Desk.

YIPPEE-DEE: Exclamation at being pulled off long doorstep.

NIKON CHOIR: The sweet sound of many motordrives singing as one from massed ranks.

ELVIS: The end of an assignment. ('I'm outa here. I'm Elvis. I'm history.’)

SAMBUCCA: Alcoholic drink tasting like developer/fixer - used by photographers to set fire to themselves on foreign assignments. Origins of ceremony obscure.

BOSH-PROOF GLASS: Obscured or reflective glass used on prison vans etc to stop intrusion of cameras. Metropolitan Police vans also give off special scent which compels photographers to run alongside until outpaced. (Camera strap caught on wing mirror has same effect).

KLEX: Photographs 'klected' from trusting bereaved relatives etc. Never returned. Reporter always blamed for loss.


ON THE SKETCH: Nostalgic phrase used by senior photographers to evoke fond memories of Good Old Days. (It's funny you should say that cos when I was on the Sketch etc etc etc...). Often accompanied by fellow photographers snoring, hanging themselves, falling on swords etc.

CAPTION-WRITER: General News reporter.

WURDSMIFF: Feature Writer.

THE ELDERFLOWER PRESS: Collective term for group of veteran senior colour-writers.

A STONKER: A jolly good picture.

A PLONKER: A jolly silly person.

A BONKER: (See Jiggy Jiggy).

MONKEY SUIT: Timeless style of dress adopted by colonies of photographers. Includes Schott leather jacket for posing. Otherwise: Sleeveless jacket; jeans; building-workers' boots. (Report once swept Tory conference that photographer had been banned from posh hotel bar for wearing Timberland boots. Later rumoured he was wearing ONLY Timberland boots).

MONKEY DROPPINGS: Plastic film containers, polystyrene cups, orange envelopes etc, dropped by photographers on stake-outs and other assignments. Trained reporters can tell how many hours earlier the photographers left by sniffing the droppings, rubbing them between two fingers and putting one ear to the ground. ('Many monkeys pass this way, bwana....').

SURF & TURF: Standard photographers' meal of prawn cocktail and fillet steak, ordered in countries where food is considered 'well dodgy'. Always accompanied by 'Bottla Shablee’

BRANKS: Essential documentation which always leads to arguments/fights/meat cleavers in Chinese restaurants where groups of photographers dine.

PEN: Writing implement which photographers always need but never carry.



LEFF-TRITE: What Blunts compile while photographers take pictures of more than one person at once.

'SEE REPORTER FOR NAMES': A typical photographers' caption.

'OWJA SPELL DAT DEN?' A photographer trying to write a caption.

MELT THE FUKKA: What photographers equipped with flashguns do to unwilling picture subjects. (See also 'Ose 'im darn).


Jan 2016

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre