Gatehouse Midsummer Music Festival is a must-attend event, circled in the calendar each year. It’s spread out across the town with the main venue being in the hall at the primary school, with other things happening at the community centre, open pub sessions and even the local café.
While this might all sound very local and even a bit twee, most of the main acts come from outwith the area and the performances – from both visiting and local bands – are never less than outstanding. And this year was the best yet.
Each year I head along with the camera (see Midsummer Music Festival 2011 and 2012) and attempt to exercise photography skills that are almost the polar opposite of normal portraiture.
In a studio I get to control the background, the lighting, and I interact with the sitter. By contrast, at a festival the background has been set up by the organisers with no thought given to photography, there is never enough light, and performers on stage are not going to stop playing while you rearrange them to make a better composition.
So the quest to get something not too dark, in focus and reasonably composed is quite challenging. This year had the added trickiness of some serious foot-stomping music – it’s particularly difficult to keep the camera steady when your body just wants to leap about to thumping rhythmic beats.
Nowhere was this more of a problem than the final band of Saturday evening, The Black Diamond Express. I was completely blown away by their music, musicianship and stagecraft. I’d seen a couple of videos of them online beforehand, but they fail to capture anything like the energy and drive of seeing them live. If you ever get a chance to see them, do not hesitate.
Another departure for me was this time I decided to go for colour for most of the images. There are still a few black and white images in the mix – I do love the atmospheric moodiness black and white can give – but this year I decided not to be so rigid about it. Each photo I selected I considered both options and went for the version I felt best suited that image, rather than looking for a consistency across the entire set.
Below are a few examples, but you can find the full album on Facebook by clicking on this link:
Mosa Funk CLub
Shelagh McDonald - you might remember I did a photoshoot with her earlier in the year:
The Lounge Punk Blues of Richard Ipaint
Saint Max and the Fanatics
The Black Diamond Express
To view all 38 images, visit the full album on Facebook by clicking on this link (you don't have to have a Facebook account to see them):