Volunteering Round Up

I had fully intended to blog a bit more frequently throughout Manchester International Festival, but like many others found myself too busy – in between photography jobs, festival fronteering and post processing the photographs, coupled with going back to work and trying to get to see as much as possible of the festival from a visitor perspective I found I simply didn’t have the time.

So I’ve posted a few of my favourites from some of the photography assignments I was given and some I took to record my time as a volunteer.

Costume Alterations on That Day We Sang

Prior to the actual start of the festival I spent a weekend helping out with costumes for the Victoria Wood play, That Day We Sang – above is one of the volunteers repairing a dress. This involved everything from sorting out shoes into size piles, to tagging clothes, putting in labels with the actors names, to repairing or altering costumes.

The following weekend was my first photography job for the festival – photographing 250 children & parents on the opening day of the children’s fun fest that was Music Boxes – specifically the kids enjoying the array of ‘musical instruments’ outside.

Kids enjoy the stethoscope zipper at Music Boxes
Bubbla Phone

Later on that evening it was back over to the BBC at Media City for the Music Box Party  – my brief this time was to capture the guests chatting and enjoying themselves, a bit like the stuff you see in society pages of magazines. The guests included staff who produced, created and worked at Music Boxes – including the CBeebies presenters and other notable BBC staff members.

Music Box Party

Next up was a stint in the pavillion in Albert Square, on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon I was capturing people enjoying the outdoor space built especially for the occasion – the Glass House roof garden gave good views over the square and the roofs Manchester

Albert Square

After this I had a few days break during which time I spent post processing along with volunteering for the Crash of the Elysium, the Doctor Who adventure for kids where I got to play the role of a scientist, to Tony Ousler’s the Influence Machine – and audiovisual treat in Whitworth park between 10-11:30pm where faces, hands, and text swirled on trees, smoke, the floor and knocked on the wall of the Whitworth Art Gallery.

Sir Nicholas Serota & Alex Poots In Conversation

Next up was the VIP lunch for 11 Rooms, an exhibition of performance based or time based media – each room containing a person or people. Again my job was to capture people networking and enjoying themselves, no easy feat when you consider this was a lunch which meant people were eating which isn’t the most photogenic of activities (and the moment of panic when my flash stopped working part way through the event). Not to mention the lunch was attended by important people from the art world including MOMA and our own Sir Nicholas Serota – head of the Tate.

With barely time to think I had another job lined up – this one a whole afternoon for the recipients of the Jerwood Creative Bursary who were attending an event at the Contact Theatre. Here they got to network with each other and also to glean insight and advice from people working in creative industries such as Andrew Nairne, Executive Director of the Arts for the Arts Council UK and Baba Israel, Hip Hop star and Creative Director at Contact, as well as legal advice from Cobbetts. This was one of my favourite shoots of the entire festival as I also got to hear snippets of advice and the presentation around the legal aspects of setting yourself up as a freelance creative, not to mention the fabulous colours of the building meant the photos really had pop!

Jerwood Creative Bursaries at Contact
Networking

Final assignment of the festival was the staff party held in the Pavillion on a very wet & dark Sunday night after the Festival had officially finished. There was some very tasty bacon butties to hand and I got to do a bit of star spotting including Johnny Vegas and Alina Ibragimova along with performers from 11 Rooms.

Alina Ibragimova in the Pavillion

Last but not least was the volunteer party held at the Mint Hotel – although I wasn’t on assignment here, I couldn’t resist taking my camera along to take a few shots including this one of our glorious leaders and organisers of the 400 plus volunteers it takes to keep MiF running!

Caroline & Fee

I had such an amazing time, learned so much, quadrupled my confidence, met new friends that I can’t wait for next time – roll on MiF 2013!

The rest of my MiF photos can be found here with a selection from 2007 & 2009 festivals.

On Assignment

The past weekend has seen get going with the photography side of my volunteer role for MiF. Saturday afternoon started with the opening of the Music Boxes at Media City – a wonderful production from MiF and Cbeebies for children 6 months to 7 years old. My purpose here was to photograph the children (and sometimes parents!) playing with the creative array of ‘musical instruments’. I think if you’d told me before hand that I was going to spend almost 3 hours photographing children, I may have run a mile. But I’m always willing to be proven wrong and I was –  I had such an amazing time as the kids were so obviously enjoying themselves and looked so happy, combine this with the gorgeously sunny day that meant not having to get the flash out, meaning I could just wander around reasonably unnoticed to get some great candid shots.

After a quick stint home to grab some lunch I was back at the Quays to photograph a party for staff of the Music Boxes along with BBC & MiF Festival Staff. Quite the contrast to the afternoon’s relaxed shoot, this involved photographing the guests chatting to each other whilst eating & drinking! some candid, some posed, all with a flash gun (which behaved itself incredibly for once). Before I started I was given a brief run down of who’s who and the ‘must have’ list of folks to photograph. I think this point was when the nerves really set in, although there was no need to worry. Everyone was so lovely and polite and no one seemed to mind being semi blinded by my flash mid conversation.

After I had all the shots I needed, it was time again to head home for the really scary part. I’m just learning a whole new work flow using Lightroom after having used Photoshop for at least 6 years for the digital darkroom, I’m still fumbling my way around somewhat, but I’ve seen the greatest benefit for these assignments with the ability to create a new export for each batch size requirement with virtually a few clicks and a more structured cataloging system going on, although I’ve still got a way to go before I’m entirely organised.

Here’s a couple of photos from the day

MiF Volunteering

After I had such a fun time volunteering for Manchester International Festival back in 2009, it was a total no brainer when it came to reapplying this year.

Volunteer recruitment starts around 6 months prior to the 2 week festival. As I was applying for a role of photographer, I had to put together a portfolio to take along for an interview (obviously I was sucessful) and then the emails start! Although the festival spans 2 & a bit weeks in July, requests for volunteers can start weeks before hand as various shows & events need helping hands.

It’s the induction in early June that makes everything feel really real & exciting as this is where you receive the volunteer essentials – accreditation, handbook, shirt, bag and arguably the most important – waterproof coat!

The main difference for me this year is that I’ll be one of the volunteer photographers, however there’s always the option to have a go at other roles. Today I spent my day assisting with costumes for That Day We Sang, which involved labelling, sorting, sewing, & repairing costumes. Tomorrow I’m off for more of the same so time for bed.