Did you know there were sexy novels about photographers out there?

Maggie Robinson reading Shooters on the wing of a plane, photo by Sanjay Jogia
Maggie Robinson reading Shooters on the wing of a plane, photo by Sanjay Jogia (Image credit: Julia Boggio / Maggie Robinson)

Photographer-turned-author Julia Boggio is on the verge of completing a trilogy of books which began with Shooters – a 'sassy, sizzling romantic comedy about wedding photographers.'

Julia once ran one of London's top family portrait studios, but decided to make the switch to writing novels about photographers instead. The first novel deals with the trials and tribulations faced by a new wedding photographer (Julia's own wedding made its way onto The Oprah Winfrey Show thanks to a stunt she pulled, but that's another story). 

I met Julia, incidentally, at a trade show where she was signing books – it's always worth attending real-life events. (FYI the next big event in the industry is The Photography and Video Show, in the UK). Anyway, I find myself compelled to ask what led her to make such a big life change and perhaps the question we all want to know most now – whether photographers really are as sexy as she writes them.

Tell the photographers that read DCW how you first found your way to photography

I’ve always had photography in my blood.

I’ve always had photography in my blood. Both my great-grandfather and grandfather were photographers in Italy. I discovered my own love of photography while I was travelling in South America in 2000. It’s hard to take a bad photo in South America; it’s so colourful and both the landscape and people are so photogenic. Then I met a man on the Inca Trail who had a Canon SLR. It was the first time I considered buying a camera that wasn’t a point-and-shoot. When I returned from that trip, I bought the same camera, enrolled on a photography course on weekends, and my journey began. By 2005, I had quit my job as an advertising copywriter and I was a full-time photographer.

...and, with gigs like Queen and the Queen, what would compel you to turn to writing?

I am so lucky that photography has led me to meet some pretty amazing people over the years. It’s also led me to meet some not-so-amazing people. I am the kind of person who buys bottled milk and recycles the foil lids, and there I was working with people who would hire a private jet to go to Harrods and then haggle with me over price. Something just wasn’t connecting for me and I burned out. I remember the moment I decided to walk away for good. I was on a call with Jerry Ghionis and he said, “It’s okay to be tired of the hustle.” And that sort of described it for me in a nutshell: I was tired of the hustle.

Ghionis promotional image depicting someone reading Shooters while in bed

Jerry Ghionis was one of the photographers involved in the marketing. (Image credit: Ghionis / Julia Boggio)

So what made you decide to turn to writing stories about photographers?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I was an advertising copywriter for years and everyone knows copywriters are just frustrated novelists. I was just waiting for the right story. In 2019, I already knew that I wanted to walk away from my photography business and try something else. I was having coffee with Sarah Edmunds and I told her how I wanted to write romances about photographers and she said, “Sort of like the Jilly Cooper of photography?” And in that moment, the title Shooters, the characters, and the story came to me. That was that!

Shooters does “for wedding photography what Jilly Cooper's 'Riders' did for equestrianism,” said BookBrunch (publishing industry mag) – so, er, what did Jilly Cooper do for horse enthusiasts and was it a good thing?

It was most definitely a good thing. Have you read Riders?? Aside from being a British institution, Jilly writes with wonderful wit. You feel like she has her tongue firmly stuck in her cheek with every word she pens. Many women consider Rupert Campbell Black to be their first fictional crush with his roguish, villainous ways and devastating looks. Her books also held such veracity because Jilly knew that world in the same way that I know professional photography. Shooters, my first book, is definitely my love letter to photography. One of the things I aimed to do in the book is to educate readers about how hard photography is. It’s not just pointing a camera at a subject. There’s so much more to it. From the number of readers who say they learned something from the books, I feel like I hit my mark.

In your words, what is a "bonkbuster"?

Bonkbusters are big thick books full of sex and bonkers shenanigans that were incredibly popular in the 70s and 80s. The queens of the Bonkbuster are Jilly Cooper, Shirley Conran, Jackie Collins, and Judith Krantz. Anyone who’s read Conran’s Lace will not forget the infamous Goldfish scene in a hurry. Bonkbusters differ from romances in that romances are defined by the “happily ever after” at the end and usually involves just two protagonists.

The bonkbuster is much more sweeping and epic, with multiple points of view. And they’re long—700-900 pages easily. I spoke with Dr Amy Burge and Dr Jodi McAllister who have studied the bonkbuster in depth for my podcast, Two Lit Chicks. I've even created a bonkbuster quiz.

Is there something especially sexy about photography—and photographers?

Photographers are generally very interesting people. We are creatives. We are passionate.

Photographers are generally very interesting people. We are creatives. We are passionate. We are ambitious. All of these things make for great drama. Now that I’m writing books, it’s funny how many photographers seek me out to tell me their own stories. And there are some doozies! On page one of Shooters, I write: “Claudia had warned Stella that these photography conventions were a hotbed of sexual activity.” If that doesn’t gel with your experience, then you haven’t heard some of the stories I’ve heard. Ha!

You've opted to stay in control of your publishing; is that consequence of being a photographer and (by extension) businesswoman, or is that just common sense these days?

Timing and luck are incredibly important when going for a traditional publishing deal, and unfortunately, I had neither. All I had was a really great book and, believe it or not, that’s not enough to get a deal anymore. I was also told that they were looking for younger writers with a better chance of going viral on TikTok. When my agent told me this, I thought to myself: “I’ve been running my own business for 15 years. I can do this myself.” My agent agreed with me, so I decided to launch my books as an independent publisher.

More soon...

We'll follow up in a few days with some insights into the experience of writing and promoting her books (and more brilliant pictures). 

First, Julia reminds me: "I’m now working on the final book in the Photographers Trilogy, called Exposure! which takes place in Las Vegas at a huge photography conference. My next book, Camera Shy, is out in paperback on January 30 and on February 6 on ebook—all available to order from Amazon.

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Adam Juniper
Managing Editor

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 

Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 

He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook