Rebellion - Punk Festival, Blackpool.
14th Aug 2014
Every year Punk Rockers from the UK and further afield descend up on Blackpool for a weekend of concerts and to meet up with old friends. While they have some serious partying to do, we as photographers have a great opportunity to photograph some really amazing people.
First a word of caution - some can be a little unpredictable in their response to having their photograph taken so its always best to get their permission first. Others you will see there every year and you are on first name terms with them and they are more than happy to pose for you.
Canon 5D MkIII and Canon 70-200mm f4 L lens - ISO 100 at 85mm, f4 and 1/250 sec
This chap just walked right up to me, pulled this face and then walked off just as quickly as he appeared only giving me seconds to point my lens in his direction and fire off one frame. I have to say the aroma emanating from him can best be described as 'over powering' but he seemed friendly enough and was obviously happy to be among fellow punks.
I used my Canon 5D MkIII and my 70 - 200mm f4 L IS lens for the day and although I had my 24 - 105mm f4 lens with me I felt the ability to shoot from further away and zoom in to my subjects gave me the most 'natural' looking images. Sometimes getting in close with a wider angle lens can cause your subjects to feel a bit 'uncomfortable' and thus they aren't as relaxed as they might be. This young lady had travelled over from Sweden to attend the festival and does so every year, she obviously is very meticulous about her appearance and I have to say she looked stunning. She was only too willing to pose for me and for this portrait I asked her to move away from the wall and into a shaft of sunlight to illuminate her face and eyes.
It must have taken hours of preparation and several tubs of gel to form the mohican and the accompanying spikes of hair to stand so prominently out from her head. Although she might look quiet fearsome I can honestly say she was very well spoken, extremely polite and even smelt nice too. Most certainly not your stereotypical punk. She was with a friend who was displaying a rather large white mohican but the breeze kept blowing it over, never the less I still managed to get a photograph of it in its 'erect position'.
The focus of the weekend 'Rebellion Festival' is the Winter Gardens in Blackpool where bands play from early morning way into the evening. Entry is via ticket only and those who don't have a ticket form into groups on the streets around the Winter Gardens.
The best time to arrive is around 10:00am while most of them are sober and are keen to meet up with friends, as the day wears on then they can get a bit boisterous but on the whole they are a great group of people who are just there to enjoy themselves.
As I said, the entrance to the Winter Gardens is the main meeting location for them but you can find them in most of the streets around there and especially at lunchtime on the streets that lead down to the promenade. After a heavy mornings dancing to music a number of them like to stroll down to the beach to enjoy their lunch, once again this is a good location to photograph them.
Although you need to be careful with the light and use it to your advantage, on the promenade in August at lunchtime the sun will be coming from almost 90' to your left. If you shoot into the sun you will get silhouettes - great for b&w images but if you want some colour in your photographs then you will need to have the sun at your back. Its only a small point but one to be aware of and use the conditions to your advantage.
Canon 5D MkIII and Canon 70-200mm f4 L lens - ISO 100 at 89mm, f9.5 and 1/250 sec
Street photography and especially street portraits can be very difficult to get right as we are usually using just natural light and quickly grabbing shots as we see them there is very little opportunity to pose people. It is usual to spend a whole days photography shooting a few hundred images and have just a small handful of good images to show for your efforts. The 'hit' rate isn't good yet not only is it rewarding when you make a good image but it also trains you to keep looking for photo opportunities sometimes even anticipating them, using the available light to your advantage and trying to photograph from unusual angles. Having suitable equipment can also help - as mentioned earlier I prefer a longer lens to zoom in on my subject and not only get a more natural facial expression but also to remove distracting elements from around your subject. A fast lens (f2.8 or f4) is useful for throwing the background behind your subject 'out of focus' this helps make your subject stand out much more.
Canon 5D MkIII and Canon 70-200mm f4 L lens - ISO 100 at 144mm, f4 and 1/1500 sec
The above image was taken down on the sea front, into the sun hence the fast shutter speed yet I still managed to capture some detail in my subjects as they walked up the steps. I like the image because it has a high-key look to it (bright background, dark subject), there is eye contact with one of the girls which creates a link between the viewer and the image, there is another photographer in the frame almost mirroring myself and the background is diffused yet there is just enough detail to show that it is at a seaside somewhere.
Canon 5D MkIII and Canon 70-200mm f4 L lens - ISO 100 at 160mm, f4.5 and 1/250 sec
Canon 5D MkIII and Canon 70-200mm f4 L lens - ISO 100 at 200mm, f4 and 1/180 sec
Would you like to try your hand at street photography?
Next year I will be running a weekend workshop for a small group of photographers up in Blackpool to photograph the Rebellion weekend Punk Festival. You will have an opportunity to walk the streets of Blackpool with, learn some new techniques and photograph the punks in all their glory. It really will be a great weekend to meet up with fellow photographers, have some laughs and get some great and unique images.
Email me to register your interest and be the first to receive detailed information and a booking form.