One of my oldest clients is Hertford Dramatic & Operatic Society and every year I’m delighted to be asked to photograph their youth group’s annual production at Hertford Theatre.
This year’s production was The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe and featured a cast of around 40, together with a supporting adult crew of technicians, make-up artists, chaperones and front of house staff.
Shooting takes place during the final dress rehearsal, which typically runs in real time, stopping only for serious technical issues.
The photographs are taken from the auditorium – anywhere from the back of the raked seating right up to the front of the stage.
As with all theatrical productions I never use flash. Stage lighting is more than adequate and a lot of work goes in to putting together a lighting plot that adds visual drama to the production.
Founded in 2005, Amici Cantate is a Bishop’s Stortford based choir who perform a wide range of material from all parts of the world. Their most recent concert was a performance of Zimbe!, a 40 minute fusion of traditional African song and jazz by Alexander L’Estrange. I was asked to cover the event by the choir’s Musical Director, John Tripp.
The concert took place in Bishop’s Stortford Baptist Church, a modern building that has more in common with a conference centre than a house of worship. I visited the church beforehand to get an idea of the space and lighting, something I always try and do before such events. I was a little concerned about the lighting (churches aren’t often generously lit) but I was pleased that the choir brought their own additional floodlighting for the event. The venue also featured a gallery, which allowed a good view of the performers.
The choir themselves were thoughtfully decked out in simple bright colours, whilst the junior singers wore all black.
Tickets for the event sold quickly at the church was nearly full to capacity, limiting the available angles somewhat. When photographing public performances I try to be as discreet as possible – the event is for the public’s enjoyment, not mine – so I try to be as unobtrusive as possible.
I took many of the shots from the back of the auditorium using a 70-300mm telephoto lens in Aperture Priority mode with the aperture around f5. Speed was set to ISO1600. Other shots were taken from the gallery and wings.
Following the event I created a slideshow in the client area of my website so that members of the choir could view the photos. I also provided information about how to order prints or photo CDs.
If you’re interested in having an event photographed and would like more information about the services I can offer, just fill in the contact form on my website.
I cover a number of music festivals during the season but most are around the middle or end of Summer, so it was great to be able to cover the Stortford Music Festival over the Mayday bank holiday this year.
The two-day event took place on St.Mary’s School field in Windhill, Bishop’s Stortford and featured three stages, a beer tent, children’s entertainment and the usual selection of festival stalls selling vintage clothes, jewellery, sunglasses, airbrushed tattoos, hair braiding, face painting and more.
As with all festivals I make a point of photographing not only the performers, but the fans, traders, stewards and everyone and everything that makes a successful festival what it is.
Events like these are of course great places to meet people and I always make sure I have an adequate supply of business cards (I come away with as many as I give away).
I always post my festival photos on Facebook and it’s always gratifying to see how much people appreciate my pictures. I also often post my photos on the artists and traders’ own Facebook pages. Links to the Facebook galleries are below.
This year’s pantomime at Hertford Theatre was Sleeping Beauty, presented by Hertford Dramatic & Operatic Society.
I’m no particular fan of pantomime as entertainment but as photographic material it’s marvellous! Lots of bright colours, animated characters, comedy expressions and plenty of light!
I do a lot of work for HDOS and as well as photographing the shows I also provide displays of images during the run so that cast, crew and support staff can order prints and photo CDs of the production. These can either be collected later from The Society’s HQ or delivered to the customer’s home.
More photos of the production can be found on Facebook – just click on the link below.
I was asked to photograph a small charity gig at the 12 Bar Club in London’s Denmark Street a few weeks back. This was an event to raise money for the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity and featured a number of acoustic acts including Keef Jackman, Chloe Turner, Pat Crilly and Steve Ingrey.
The main performance area is relatively small and lit by a handful of LED PAR lamps, so the conditions were quite challenging. This is where my fast f1.8 lens comes in useful! Despite the subdued lighting I was very pleased with the results I achieved. I’ve posted a slideshow of the event in the galleries section of the website, so just click on the link below to see the shots. I’ve also includee links to the club and charity for anyone who’s interested.
I was pleased to get a call recently from Haileybury College, asking me if I was available to photograph a lecture by historian Bettany Hughes. Haileybury is a public school in Hertford Heath and often stages such events for both students and members of the local community. My brief was to take a series of informal photos during a reception hosted by the History Society, followed by a lecture on Socrates in Big School. I was also asked to take a posed shot of Ms.Hughes with a handful of students.
The reception took place in a small meeting room, attended by members of the History Society, The Master and a few teachers. It was an informal drinks and nibbles affair and my role was to capture the proceedings for the school’s website and publications.
My usual approach with such events is to hover around the edge of the room with a telephoto lens looking for opportunities to capture people interacting. The idea is to be as inconspicuous as possible so as to capture nature photographs. As with all such events I never use flash and rely on the ambient lighting, in this case fluorescent tubes.
Proceedings then moved to Big School, the largest hall used for staged events such as lectures, presentations and dramatic productions. The building dates back to 1912 and offers plenty of angles and discreet positions from which to photograph events, including a gallery.
I was able to get plenty of shots of the lecture from a variety of angles, including the wide shot of the hall above, taken from the gallery. The picture also shows the space available to move down the sides of the auditorium without disturbing the audience too much.
Bettany was often quite expressive with her hands and this meant that I had to use a shutter speed appropriate for the conditions. The shot shown here was taken using a tripod and a speed of 1/40s. With such an expressive performer you have to take quite a few shots to freeze the action, whilst also being aware that you might not be the only one that can heard the shutter activating. I always make a point of trying to be as unobtrusive as possible so as not to spoil the enjoyment of others.
I spent about 90 minutes at the event and was able to submit initial images for the schools website the next day, with a CD of processed images a couple of days afterwards. I’m happy to say that shortly after I received a call from the school asking if I could cover another event in the same space, which I was more than happy to attend.
I caught Sofasonic when they headlined Sunday Live at Hertford Corn Exchange. The locally-based four-piece are recently back from The States and have a handful of gigs lined up for the rest of the year.
I’d not seen Sofasonic before but any band with a female bassist has got to be good and they certainly didn’t disappoint, tearing through a 50 minute set.
As the Summer draws to a close many theatre companies are starting a new season. In Hertford, The Company Of Players opened their new season this week with a production of Blithe Spirit, directed by Paul Morton.
The Company is celebrating it’s 50th year and the opening night was attended by Sir Ian McKellen, who is president of the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain, of which The Company is a member.
I do a lot of work for CoPs, who perform in a small 63 seat theatre close to Hertford town centre. The building was originally a school house and was purchased by The Company in the sixties. The size of the theatre means that you work very close to the stage and can get some excellent angles and close-ups that would be hard to achieve in a full sized auditorium. The downside for the performers of course is that they’re more than usually aware of the photographer in their midst.