Festival Photography

My heart missed a beat when I saw the notice on one of my favourite Facebook groups

“Volunteer photographer for music festival wanted”

This was my chance. I love music and I love photography. To combine both sounded like heaven.

I quickly responded. The start of a whirlwind week. Within 24 hours I was accepted and had booked accommodation in the coastal town only 1.5 hours drive south of Sydney. I was excited and I was a little scared. But the organisers assured me it would be an easy weekend of taking photos and listening to music. Perfect. How hard could that be?

My plan was set. I would drive down early Saturday morning, check into my Air BnB and head to the festival to do my “job” Easy!

Well, that was until the AirBnB decided on Thursday morning that they needed to cancel my booking due to damage to their dwelling from high winds and rain during Wednesday night. These things happen, but not what I needed 2 days before and the whole town booked out with festival goers. I spent a few hours on the phone and online and by Thursday night I had another place, but this time a further 10 min drive past the festival town. Not ideal, but had to be. I didn’t want to cancel my opportunity to get into some festival photography.

Saturday arrived and I was on the road early packed with my overnight gear my Canon EOS 700D plus a new Tamron lens, spare battery, laptop and my trusted festival hat. I was excited and felt like I was on a new adventure. There is something about hitting the road by yourself.

The festival was Folk By the Sea. Folk music was what I grew up listening to back in Denmark, but I have to admit I lean more to the rock/blues these days. Still, ​I was looking forward to some great tunes. Good music is good music no matter what genre.

I arrived, met my team and set up in the media room. It was super casual. As a newbie, I expected a lot more vetting and restrictions, but I was given admin rights and permission to just load my own photos to their Facebook site. I felt important, but also a bit of nervous pressure. What did they expect? Would my photos be good enough?

My working day started @ 10 am and continued all day. Of course, ​there were lots of breaks,​ just enjoying the vibe, but I honestly enjoyed taking the photos so much that it never felts like work. Still, it was a lot harder than I expected. We had to ensure we covered all the gigs between us and upload regularly to keep the page interesting and entice people to come along. Every 2-3 hours I would be in the media room, uploading my photos to my laptop, edit the best and upload to their Facebook page with a blurb. My writing skills came in handy. Not always easy being creative under pressure, but I loved it. Best part, as a music lover, was being able to get up close and personal to the artists. At first, ​that feels quite weird, then you soon realise if you want good photos you just have to put “shyness” and “ not wanting to be upfront​” attitudes out the window and just get that great shot.

As a new photographer, ​the​ biggest challenge was adjusting to the many and varied settings. Each stage was different, the lighting,​ the backdrop​,​ the colours, the artists. A great learning curve. I took so many bad photos ​but also got some great shots that I am proud of.

I had an amazing time and would recommend it to anyone new to photography. It really challenges you and gets you out of your comfort zone. We all tend to stick with what we feel comfortable with. Mine has been landscapes and buildings. They stand nicely still for you! This was totally different but so much fun.

I came back the next afternoon, exhausted but feeling fantastic. Like you do when you have done something different out of your normal comfort zone.

And best of all I have been invited to the next festival in January!

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