Africa Oyé is a free music festival in Sefton Park, Liverpool, which turned out to not be quite as African as I had expected. But that was OK because I was there to see what I could learn about event shooting rather than the music. The first lesson was that photographing whilst dancing to really good world music creates camera shake. But lets move on to my real lessons for this post:
1. A theme will emerge. It will not always be what you expect.
I thought that I would go and increase my set of photos of street food. The whole arena area was corralled by food stalls but, apart from surfing down a boar and apple burger ad Cajun fries I didn’t really find much that captivated me this time. What I did end up finding fascinating was the photographers. First there were the ones with press passes who were allowed right in front of the stage and even up on the stage.
Then there were the keen amateurs who pressed themselves up against the crash barriers as close to the stage as possible for the start of each set and then went wandering for different shots as the set progressed.
It was nice to meet Jannette Marshall who I work with.
Then there were the parents and friends who suddenly all whipped their camera phones out when a gang of kids with drums and face paint arrived on stage.
I ended up making a whole collection of photographs of photographers.
Some of whom lowered their cameras and allowed themselves moments of almost tearful grandfatherly pride.
2. Do not have lens envy and trust your camera choice.
I couldn’t help having a bit of lens envy though. This is my friend Peter Goodbody. Serious guy with serious camera.
And there I was with my tiny little Olympus OMD – EM-10. I confess when I went home I googled his camera and lens and contemplated whether I should save up now so when I had become a bit more proficient I could upgrade. Then I thought: hang on. Didn’t you already make this decision? I googled Micro Four Thirds v Full Format and found these great posts here and here on Lyndsay Dobson’s Blog. ( I emailed her to thank her for those posts and she even corresponded with me a bit and gave me some great advice. She’s a nice lady!) The fact the professionals are now moving to Micro Four Thirds convinced me I do not need the inconvenience of huge, great big DSLR thank you. Oh that and the fact that I was rather pleased with the images of Andy Kershaw that my little camera got, even from further away than the press pack. Guys, size is not everything. *
3. People make festivals.
I have been stressing about how to take portrait photos with out studio lights and professional models who know how to pose for me. The answer I think lies in part with taking images of people who are having fun doing something they do naturally and who are not concentrating on your lens. (Of course a small intrusive lens helps here). Indeed many people actually turned towards my camera or huddled together for poses. I did decide, however, not to post the grouping of three women who dangled their little baggies of weed at my camera!
* There are some technical differences between the MFT system and full format which might cause a Pro to choose the latter. My point is that they are not sufficient to make me switch my camera choice given the portability of my kit.