The festival featured a busy schedule of talks and workshops by authors and illustrators, aimed primarily at children and young people. However, there were also events open to the public, with some of the speakers taking part inboth events for the children and evening appearances for adult audiences.
Many of the public events took place in the school’s Ferguson Lecture Theatre, whilst the childrens’ events took place in the prep school and pre-prep school halls.
Stage photography is one of my core skills so these events were familiar work for me – performers working with an audience. However, unlike most stage work, there was no dedicated lighting in the school halls and the talks were lit simply by fluorescent lighting.
The speakers were aimed at a range of ages from very young children just starting out in education, through teenagers, to adults who attended the public events.
Childrens’ authors and illustrators such as Jackie Morris & James Mayhew, Sarah Macintyre, Chris Riddell and Nick Schon entertained the younger children, whilst Radio 4 presenter and comedian Robin Ince and art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon engaged the adults.
Actress and performer Debs Newbold gave life to the characters of Shakespeare in a talk to students in the prep school hall.
This was a great series of events to be a part of and I enjoyed covering all these events for the college.
Despite not being a full-on wedding photographer, I do cover a handful of weddings every year. These functions typically come my way by word of mouth – from people who know my photojournalistic style and informal coverage of family functions and events.
Jade and Martin’s wedding was the largest wedding I have covered recently, and included preparations at the bride’s father’s home, travel to the wedding location, outdoor ceremony and both afternoon and evening receptions.
The day started mid-morning, where I photographed a team of of stylists and markup artists preparing the bride, bridesmaids, maid of honour and bride’s mother at the family home.
I frequently carry around a set of slimPAR38 LED spotlights. I use these as a contingency for events where the lighting falls short of what is necessary for good coverage.
One example is a Year 6 Prom I covered where lighting was not provided for a surfboard simulator. Without the PAR cans the only other lighting option would have been the venue’s main fluorescent lighting, which would have seriously compromised the atmosphere (and accompanying disco!)
Another example was a music event where the main lighting bar was obstructed by decorations, meaning that the performers faces were in relative darkness. I was able to use the PAR cans as uplighters at the side of the stage, which dramatically improved the lighting.
The lights are typically set to slowly fade through the colour spectrum but can also be configured to provide static lighting.
These lights have made otherwise un-photographable events possible, with very little overhead. They are easy to set up and adaptable for any event, either to provide direct lighting or simply to add atmosphere.
When I’m photographing events I always try and keep an eye out for peripheral details. Whilst the main event principally focuses on the people and places, I make a point of keeping an eye out for small details. This might be a wedding ring or a bridesmaid’s shoes, the features of a building, a buffet or party decorations. Whatever the event, it’s small things seen in passing that form an important part of the narrative.
The Cantate Alumni Choir held a gala concert at The Gresham Centre in Central London during April, featuring both the choir and former members who have gone on to form their own outfits.
Having worked previously with members of the choir I was delighted to be asked to photograph this event. Normally I would visit the location beforehand to get an idea of the layout, environment and lighting but on this occasion I was not able to do this, so I arrived well ahead of time to fully view the space and identify the best angles and plan the best way to move around without drawing attention to myself. Arriving well in advance of the performance also gave me an opportunity to talk to some of the musicians and the stage manager; and to take some shots of the venue and paraphernalia to illustrate the event.
The concert ran from 5pm until 7pm, so, being April, there was plenty of natural daylight in the building at the start due to the large windows. However, with the onset of evening, this became mixed with the artificial lighting of the venue (and consequent mix of colour temperatures).
There was plenty here to photograph – performers, audience, venue, instruments, sheet music – lots to give an idea of the feel of the event. There was also plenty to impress the ear too, with some stunning performances from both the choir, individual singers and small groups.
I’m increasingly being asked to provide informal coverage of events such as renewals of vows and blessings. One such event I covered recently took place in Harpenden. The couple had originally married a couple of years ago in the Caribbean but wanted a ceremony in the UK for those who hadn’t been able to attend the wedding.
I was asked to provide some formal shots of the couple and friends in the grounds of Luton Hoo, followed by coverage of the ceremony and reception at a nearby church and hall in Harpenden.
Feedback from the client was very positive: “We love the photos. You’ve done such a great job of getting photos of so many of our guests too which we really appreciate.”
I’m getting more and more requests to photograph parties, which of course I’m delighted to cover. Towards the end of February I attended a couple of birthday parties at a local function venue, Castle House in Hertford, which features a bar, dance floor and seating both inside and out for those that prefer to relax.
Here are some photos of people enjoying themselves!