National treasures

Photographer's passThis was when the world of work and photography finally collided.

I spent a six-day stint at the Hay Festival in Wales for my day job. The annual event attracts literary types from far and wide, among them many famous names bringing their wisdom and celebrity to this little tented city in the Powys countryside.

My job doesn’t usually involve taking photographs, but I had that task thrust upon me and quickly became the owner of a photographer’s pass. This gave me licence to crouch by the stage for the first few minutes of any session and grab those pictures.

Photographers have to shuffle around on their knees to cause minimum disruption to the audience, and of course no flash is permitted.

My whole approach to taking pictures had to instantly adapt – there was no time to studiously set up each frame, while my famous subjects were in full flow and not posing for the camera. It was a case of click, click, click with the hope of catching that flattering, engaging shot. My usually low shot rate went through the roof.

And then they had to be swiftly turned around – at a laptop in a portacabin on the site’s muddy fringes – so there was no time to ruminate over whether there was quite enough saturation or some hairs looked out of place.

I was lucky enough to take pictures of people who need no introduction to UK audiences. They’re instantly recognisable and have been known for decades. They were in the midst of performing but not concerned about being photographed.

As for me, the experience has opened up a new side to what I enjoy doing. I was taken out of my comfort zone but felt oddly at ease.

Some of these images appeared on the BBC Arts website.

Click first image to launch the gallery

The Photo Shop

25 thoughts on “National treasures

  1. Great opportunity Mike and fab photos, a lot of my favourite writers there :-) Did you get much chance to explore Hay-on-Wye? I’m flying over in September to take my parents on holiday (neither can drive, so I’m chauffeur for the week) and they chose Hay-on-Wye, going to be interesting ;-)


  2. Oh, to have a day job like yours! I know no employment’s all glam and glitz, but to have Jennifer, Stephen, Jeremy and Mary thrust upon you must have been amazing! :D Great images, MIke! :)


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