Archive for the 'Womad' Category


Friday, January 20th, 2006

I love festivals, they’re also amazing opportunities for photographers. Not only can you take photos of dozens of bands in one day, but the opportunities for photos of interesting people is endless. Here’s my breakdown of some of the festivals I went to in 2005:


Fantastic festival, it’s all about the atmosphere and people. I love the green fields and hippie values… it’s not at all about the music for me. It is big though, although it’s been much more manageable since the super-fence went up and the numbers came down. I’m very sad that there’s no Glasto in 2006.

V Festival 

Absolutely horrendous, very commercial with no atmosphere. It’s a weekend of relentless high-profile bands. It’s hard work as a photographer, there are buses that take you from stage to stage giving you time to shoot one song before you’re whisked off to the next band. It goes on like that all day. At midnight, everyone is kicked off the site with nothing to do. Great for my portfolio though!


One of my favourite festivals, I’ve been going for years and even had part of my honeymoon there. Very chilled out atmosphere and fantastic musicians. 


All the media are at the Leeds/Reading festival over the same weekend, so Solfest doesn’t get the respect it deserves. I had some of my most chilled out moments of 2005 at Solfest. Very friendly organisers and festival-goers. 

Whitby Musicport 

A small-scale world music festival held at the end of October, which can be rather cold! Good thing it’s held indoors. It’s the high-calibre of bands which makes this such a consistently great festival. 


A small but enthusiastically put together rock festival held in Manchester. Lots of sweaty fun. 

Marsden Jazz Festival 

Very well organised festival set in the beautiful hills of Marsden. I usually go to all the free peripheral gigs, last year I took advantage of a photo pass to capture the higher profile musicians. 


A free festival held in Barnsley. The atmosphere was actually really nice and some great bands played. I did like some of the ‘grim oop north’ shots I captured though! 

Leeds Mela 

A large scale Asian festival held at Roundhay Park in Leeds. I love Asian fashion which can be very photogenic but the music is usually awful. 

Tip#6 Composition (Hands)

Friday, January 6th, 2006
Okay, we’re going to get serious now and look at what seperates the pro photos from the snapshots.
When taking photos of musicians, it is really important to be aware of what their hands are doing. Hands are enormously expressive, amateurs regularly chop them out of the photo by mistake without being aware of it. Musicians can move very fast so this can be tough, but the more you practice the better you’ll get. This also applies to singers. If a performer raises their hand to punch the air, you’ll need to recompose the shot in a split second to grab it. Also, be careful about chopping off elbows or any part of the arm in general. Make it a rule to always include arms and hands, and you’ll become more aware of when you can disregard this rule after you’ve mastered it. 

Steve Vai

Steve Vai

Goldie Looking Chain

Shirley Manson from Garbage

Kala Chethena Kathakali Company

Tip#5 Kids

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005
Photos of children at gigs and festivals can be very effective, they establish atmosphere and give the ‘aw’ factor. Do be aware that there is a bit of media hysteria about police carting off photographers for taking photos of children, so do a bit of research about this first. Even newspaper staffers have been arrested. 

V Festival 05

V Festival 05

Womad 05

Womad 05

Glastonbury 05

Glastonbury 05

Glastonbury 05

Glastonbury 05

Womad 05

Womad 05

Famous People#2 Robert Plant

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

Robert Plant was one of the few people in my ‘Living God’ list, I’ve always been a HUGE fan. I used to work in a guitar shop in London about 15 years ago, serving many famous names. When Robert Plant walked in, I was blown away! I saw him at Glastonbury a few years later, and it was an incredible gig. Amazing voice and atmosphere, a very special moment.
I loved Plant’s new album ‘Mighty Rearranger’, so I was really looking forward to taking photos at Womad this year, and experiencing the magic again.
It didn’t bode well when I turned up at the photographers’ pit to be told that Mr. Plant had decreed that no photographers were to be allowed into the pit, we had to shoot from no nearer than the speakers at the side of the stage. He brought his own security team who were very heavy handed to enforce this. And when the set started, the lighting was kept VERY low during the 3 songs we had to shoot through. I heard Plant was vain when it came to photographers, but this was ridiculous.
I wouldn’t have minded if he was good but his attitude was terrible, he was performing poorly like he didn’t want to be there at all. I was very disappointed to see the downfall of my idol.
I caught him again at V Festival a month later, and this was very different. The photographers were treated well, and he gave a much more spirited performance.

Robert Plant at V Festival 

Robert Plant at Womad