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.