As usual, the rate of work increased and I couldn’t keep up the running commentary via this blog. so, here’s a round-up of some of the work I had published during the Edinburgh Festivals 2015, in no particular order. Hopefully, there’ll be a follow up post with some of the pictorial highlights, given that the best work is often not published!
You wait for ages then three turn up at once.
This week’s photocalls have been a bit bunched up, which makes for a pleasantly varied week! Tuesday was the completely frantic day, with Julius Caesar at the Globe in the morning, Nederlands Dans Theater (full dress) at The Wells in the afternoon and New English Ballet Theatre (full dress) at the Peacock in the evening. It made for round-the-clock working (editing, processing and outputting taking longer than the shoot, FYI) but the effort was well worth it. The Shakespeare was exciting, and the two dance productions beautiful and emotionally charged.
So far, the published results have been three from NEBT, in The Times (large picture, surrounded by terrible news), The Guardian (uncredited, grrr) and the Financial Times.
Wednesday saw the launch of the Barbican’s new exhibition, Digital Revolution, which is mainly in the Curve gallery, though extends out the back of this space, down to the Pit theatre, in the open space outside the front entrance to the Curve and also to a site in Finsbury Square. The Barbican’s exhibitions are always intriguing and this one was no exception. It was notable that this digital exhibition was being examined, processed and enjoyed in a digital manner, with people taking photos of the installations on their mobile phones and even posing for selfies with the Pac Man arcade machine! My favourite pieces were three interactive art exhibits: Petting Zoo (‘snakes’ which respond to movement in not-always-predictable ways), Pinokio (a Pixar-esque lamp that follow your face), and birds made from mobile phones which spring to life when you dial their numbers). Ingenious and fun!
On Thursday, a tiger came to tea at the Lyric Theatre, where “Thriller” happens every night. I photographed the author of the book, “The Tiger Who Came To Tea”, Judith Kerr, last year at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and she was lovely, so it was an especial pleasure to be able to do the production photography for David Wood’s adaptation for the theatre. With children’s productions, the shoot is often straight after a morning performance and it always takes me back to my own childhood when I enter the auditorium to the wails of tots, reluctant to leave the magical world behind. As David Woods noted in a newspaper interview this week, children’s theatre is hugely important. I am not going to get into a whole diatribe about the importance of the arts to human imagination, creativity and downright happiness here; suffice it to say they are! That given, engage them early, before adults have taught them that “that’s not for the likes of us” and you have a new generation of theatregoers who want to see something live on stage, and feel the emotion of a production, without a physical fourth wall of glass or screen to hamper that engagement.
“What do you do when you’re not working?” is a question I get all too often. What the inquisitor usually means is “what do you do when you’re not shooting?”, as if that is all a photographer does all day. It’s an infuriating question. If they bothered to stop and think, they’d realise that running a small business entails way more than the principal service or product you are providing. This means that my working week, rather than having oodles of free time, as I am sure some of them imagine, I work longer hours than I did in previous jobs (and that’s not easy, given I was working in advertising at a senior level, which entailed stupidly long hours). So, for the rest of the non-shooting week I have been doing the painful, unglamorous, but utterly necessary tasks of …..chasing late payments, invoicing, marketing (that’s a chapter in itself), supplying print-ready files to clients, negotiating, travelling, researching, recceing, accounts updating, social-mediaing, expenses updating, sorting out equipment and making sure batteries are charged and everything’s working, packing, unpacking and re-packing camera bags, etc etc. Not to mention the editing, processing, captioning, keywording and outputting, which takes longer than the shoot. Those files don’t just instantly come out of the camera ready to be used as some might imagine! Also, the nicer activities of keeping in touch with colleagues and clients, and talking to potential Leading Ladies and other interested parties about said LL project. Over the last few weeks a few more fabulous LLs have agreed to take part – I am not going to reveal who until after they have been photographed and I am happy with the results though! Still a long way to go on the project, but 15 wonderful people have taken part so far with many more lined up. Watch this space!
The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of, well, one thing really. Leading Ladies.
It all seemed a bit premature to start blogging about it before I had anything to show for the project. I needed to put my camera where my mouth was first.
So that’s what I’ve been doing this year. And now, as the year is nearly at an end, and it will then be on a downward slide to my fiftieth (how did that happen?!) I wanted to ramp up the momentum on the project.
You see, I’d like to launch it on my fiftieth birthday. January 2015. Well, it would certainly take my mind off the more negative aspects!
12 months is not so long to get the rest of the project shot, raise funding to exhibit and publish, generate PR, produce the exhibition etc. I’d better get going then!
So then, what is it? (I hear you ask).
Oh all right then. This is the introduction that I have been sending to my prospective subjects, to explain briefly about the project.
Leading Ladies: celebrating the careers and achievements of women in the performing arts.
A personal project by Jane Hobson, photographer.
Women are underrepresented in the performing arts, both on and offstage. Yet there are many amazing women working in the industry, across all areas – actors, directors, producers, lighting designers, choreographers, dancers, writers, set and costume designers, sound designers, stage managers, company managers, artistic directors, musical directors, etc, etc. Visibility, as well as representation, is an issue.
Through my photographic work, I want to celebrate the work these amazing women do, and their achievements, despite the inequities, and to raise awareness of underrepresentation as an issue, stimulating debate on why such sexism is still apparent today, decades after legislation on gender equality.
By photographing women in the performing arts in their environments, whether personal or professional, their strengths, personalities and careers will be highlighted. A short biographical text will accompany the photographs, to add context, written by the Leading Ladies themselves.
The intended outcomes are a book, an exhibition and a feature/features. The recent articles in the broadsheets highlights that there is media interest in this area.
I didn’t know what I’d started when I commenced the project! I had obviously hit a nerve.
There is such strength of feeling about the topic that my existing network of women I had met, and worked with via production shoots and press photocalls, expanded rapidly, as one Leading Lady introduced me to many more.
As such, the project has grown organically, and now needs some deliberate planning of job roles to add balance across the sectors.
So far, there are eleven Leading Ladies in the gallery, with a further 12 who have agreed and are yet to have their shoots scheduled. I also have a wish list of other women in varying roles who I should love to include.
So, Dear Reader, what I should like from you (by private DM or email, please) is introductions to fabulous females in such roles as: musical director, sound designer, sound engineer, stage management, props design, set and costume design, circus performers, stage crew/fly’man’, choreographer/movement director (all genres), opera (all roles), conductor, management. All career and life stages.
I want this whole project to culminate in a wonderful celebration of the work of all women in the performing arts. And to also act as catalyst for change and inspiration.
It’s not about me. It’s about you.