The first weekend in July saw me at Hop Farm for what can only be called a line up of legends (with thanks to another photographer who had double booked).
The Friday included Death Cab for Cutie, Ocean Colour Scene and Bryan Ferry who were all fairly easy to shoot, from the pit. As to be expected in a line up of such stellar proportions, not all the artists were as obliging, the first on Friday being Brandon Flowers (of The Killers fame). It was not really a surprise that Brandon allowed 2 photographers to shoot from the stage and the rest had to shoot from the crowd as this was how The Killers were shot the weekend before at Hyde Park. The following was shot from the crowd (the first time I have ever shot from the crowd).
The Friday night headline act were also the same, allowing no photographers in the pit so here the option was in the crowd or from the sound desk.I opted for the soundesk so I could see for Sunday night’s show.This was both a mistake and a blessing. A mistake in that we were so far back and too low to be able to shoot cleanly over the mass in front of us but a blessing in that this crowd were in complete contrast to the earlier crowd (and Sunday’s) in being aggressive and abusive to my fellow photographers who had chose the crowd option; it seems many people do not mellow as they get older! (I understand the fact that they have paid but with their help we only need to be a few minutes). I am not posting an image of The Eagles as I am not personally that pleased with them, instead you can just make out my colleague Andy shooting from the desk here with all the crowd and a nice sunset. It gives you an idea of how far away we were.
Shooting from the desk
I’ve failed to mention that the weather was clear and sunny giving plenty of opportunity for other festival type shots during the day.
Dozing in the sun
Saturday was where the legends really lined up for example with Lou Reed, Patti Smith and a particular favourite; Iggy Pop. For Iggy I made a decision before the set that I wanted to get real close up images to try and portray the energy that goes into his performance. I based my whole shoot on this, picking my spot and not moving; nervously waiting for the moment. Would I be right and would it pay off? You decide:
Iggy up close with a very wide lens.
Headlining Saturday was Morrisey who gave a good performance which included belting out a number of The Smiths hits.
Sunday brought me nice shots of Imelda May and Eliza Doolittle before what has to be billed the event of the weekend – Prince. He had not performed in the UK for a few years and I believe this was his first ever festival appearance. Over the day the press area filled with photographers with long lenses from well known large news agencies who are not normally interested in covering artists at smaller festivals like this. No surprises that the choices were to shoot from the crowd or from the desk. No contest and a number of us de-camped to the crowd a number of hours before Prince’s set skipping both Tinne Tempah and Larry Graham.
By the time Prince walked on stage the arena was packed! Shooting from such a packed crowd was a nightmare but the decision was defiantly right. Shots from the desk usually lack that “spark”, even when the artist gives a performance as stellar as this and looking through the papers the next day this was defiantly the case; many shots of the artist behind the microphone.
This was without doubt one of the most exciting gigs I have ever photographed; Prince was amazing, the crowd were very understanding and Hop Farm was a great venue.
Hop Farm is definatly on my list for “must do” next year – the event, location and PR team were great, all weekend and Prince as a headline has definatly put it on the map.
I can only finish off with a picture of the man himself..