I’ve been going to Daylight Music for almost a year. I’ve found them an enjoyable experience. I can’t say I always enjoy all the music, as they put on a wide range of musical styles. But the music is always interesting.
After an earlier gig, I had posted some of the photos I’d taken to their Facebook page and because of this the organisers asked if I’d like to be part of their photography roster. As gig photography is something I enjoy and would love to do in a more professional (and official) capacity, I agreed to photograph an event in May and quiet enjoyed the process, so offered to photograph one of the weekends of their latest season.
Unlike my last session, I asked if I decided to get there early to photograph behind the scenes.
If you’re unaware of Daylight Music It’s an event that takes place most Saturday afternoons at the Union Chapel. It’s put on by Arctic Circle with the help of many volunteers. They ask for donations to help pay band expenses and pay towards the running costs, but it’s never going to be a money making event.
It also helps the Union Chapel pay maintain their homeless project through supporting their Margins Cafe where proceeds from the teas and coffees goes towards feeding the homeless every weekend. The staff who work in the Margins Cafe and cook the food are also volunteers who’ve given up their time.
The event also gives many musicians from across London and beyond who’d struggle to play large venues, an opportunity to play in a great space. So I think it’s all adds up to a very worthwhile event.
I arrived around 0930 and found the sound crew already hard at work mic’ing up Rachael Dadd and her band. With Rachael being the last band on, she had the most time to setup.
Even at this early hour, Rachael was sounding great and I’m going to have buy some of her music and give her material a proper listen to.
While Rachael was sound checking the Margins Cafe staff had started to setup so I thought I’d walk down to the kitchens to see what goes on down there.
The volunteers staff were already beavering away cooking the quiches and decorating the cakes for the afternoon’s fair. Everything is cooked from fresh. Food such as the cakes and pastry for the quiches are cooked in advance by the Union Chapel’s weekday teams. But that still leaves a lot of work for the kitchen staff to do to be decorate and create interesting fillings to be ready for a midday start.
I have to admit I was impressed that people were willing to get up so early on a Saturday and give up their time to cook for the event for no reward and no recognition.
When I returned to the Chapel, Rachael was finishing up and relaxing
Next up was Digitonal. A group who mix classical sounds with digital sounds. This meant mic’ing up a violin and harp, along with getting various bits of tech working.
As the morning drew on, more volunteers arrived to help with the setup of the collection desk, cafe, merch’ table, setup the area for children, put up signs and distribute leaflets. All those hidden little jobs that make these events run so smoothly.
Last up was Dean McPhee, a solo guitarist and easy to setup. So I took the chance to get some close-up shots that I wouldn’t be able to get during the gig without making a nuisance of myself
Before I’d realised it was midday and time for doors and the early crowd and a few friendly faces who I knew would be okay with watching over my (rather heavy) camera bag and to keep me a place at on the front bench for the times I needed to take some closeups without disturbing people.
The rest of the afternoon was closer to a normal Daylight Music, but with less listening. The odd thing is, when photographing an event, rather than grabbing photos at a gig, I find I zone out of the music because I’m having to move around and keep an eye out for interesting shots of the crowd. I have to admit, I find this aspect of photographing the event the most difficult. I rarely photograph people (other than bands on the stage – I photograph loads of them). If you look at my flickr stream you’ll see few candid shots of people unless I can hide their faces, but the organisers want candid shots to help capture the feeling of the event. It’s also the type of shot that my camera gear really doesn’t cover. I don’t have a fast telephoto lens and my quiet camera (Sony A77) that I prefer to use during quiet music as it will disturb people the least, (i.e. the one with a very quiet shutter) is also my oldest and weak at the higher ISOs necessary to capture people at telephoto. Maybe it’s time to invest in some newer equipment?
It’s surprising how quickly two hours can wiz by. Before I knew it, it was all over and I was left hoping that I’d captured enough useful shots and it was time for everyone to pack up
I have to admit, I’m quiet pleased with the photos I captured. I think they provide an insight into the whole event. I’m sure professional photographers would have done a better job, maybe asked the bands for a few staged shots. But I’m not there yet. I don’t have that confidence in my skills to work with bands in that way. But at my current photography level, I think I did a decent job.