One of my favourite activities as a photographer is to tell a story with my images. Over recent years I've had the pleasure of photographing Friary Guildford Brass band on several occasions, both in concert at during their sojourns to the Whit Friday march contests, near Manchester. Since we moved to Essex my opportunities to follow the band have been fewer but last Saturday I was once again able to attend and photograph their winter concert.
Friary are a Championship section band - the brass band equivalent of the Premier League in football. They've competed in the finals of the National Brass Band Championships at the Royal Albert Hall for the last two years so their concerts are always exciting and highly polished. Last weekend's concert was no exception and had the added excitement of a special guest appearance by euphonium soloist and brass banding superstar David Childs.
When I'm photographing Friary or any other musical ensemble I'm always looking for a mixture of different angles, expressions and details. Of course, I'm also doing this while trying to be as inconspicuous as possible and not spoil the performance for the audience - no easy thing to do!
I spent a little time before the concert started looking for detail shots - little things that hint at the story to come. On this occasion there was a table that was heaving with silverware after a hugely successful contesting year but I found other little vignettes which those in the audience might not have taken a second look at.
Once the concert gets underway it's a question of being in the right place at the right time. I try to capture the performers from a selection of different angles and positions within the room, all the while trying to only release my shutter in the loud bits so I don't disturb the music! I've always been one for trying to find a different viewpoint and this concert was no exception. Indeed, sitting on the floor sometimes gave me the unusual angle I was after and had the added bonus of keeping me out of the eyeline of the audience.
Of course, there are always moments of drama in any concert and this one was no exception, be it the "Three Amigos" stepping out front of the band, a moment of hilarity during the conductor's introductions or David Childs' fabulously quirky encore, "Hot Canary"!
Ultimately though, the star of the show was David Childs. We all wondered how it could be humanly possible to play so many notes (or as high!) on a beast as big as a euphonium but he made it look effortless. It wasn't all musical fireworks though and he also treated us to moments of lyricism and emotion. Another highlight was his duet with the band's Principal Euphonium, Chris Straker, a former pupil of his. David introduced him with genuine warmth and it was a delight to hear them play together once again.
Ultimately it was a most enjoyable evening and one of those lovely events where I am able to combine both my musical and photographic skills to capture what I hope will be useful images for Friary and their publicity. If you'd like to learn more about Friary why not take a look at their website here.