When I’m shooting events I aim to capture the humanity and personality of the people I’m shooting as opposed to approaching the job with a sense of sterile technicality which is easy to slip into when doing this kind of work. I basically try to take my experience as a portrait photographer and infuse that into the job.
Sometimes this is easier said than done but year after year Verve Poetry Festival is one of my favourite jobs to shoot because humanity and personality just oozes out of it. Four days and nights getting to photograph a huge range of people who all feel very different to one another yet tied together around a common purpose and vibe.
The biggest difference between my two primary areas of photography is control. As a portrait photographer I have the choice to have absolute control over everything I do. I can pick the model, the hair, the outfit, the location, the lighting, the makeup, the time of day etc etc etc.
On an event job it’s the opposite. I have no control over the venue, lighting, lineup, stage position, timings etc. I can and do plan ahead but the thing that’s challenging but also exciting about event photography is that to be good at it you have to improvise. The performer stands on the other side of the stage as opposed to what you were expecting them to? Adapt. The lighting in the venue is switched at the last minute? Adapt. That handshake with a VIP that takes less than 2 seconds but that you absolutely have to capture comes at an unexpected time. Adapt.
The very final session of Verve tonight was an incredible event called Funkenteleky which is basically poets performing their work whilst a jazz band improvises over the top. This particular section of the festival was one of the most challenging (and most enjoyable) experiences I’ve ever had shooting event photography. Performers moving all over the stage, cramped conditions, having to worry about hitting all the angles without distracting the audience etc etc. After four days of shooting I was absolutely exhausted by this point but this whole session was exhilarating. I was improvising and flowing in my own way, just like the band was doing.
Here are some photos from that particular section of the day. Full selection of photos from the entire event to follow soon.