Having tried to put a blog together on this year’s Glastonbury festival, I was struggling to decide on which frames to drop until our lass suggested that I split it into on-piste and off-piste, as it were. You should have already seen the light. Now for the dark..
For me, the best time to shoot at Glastonbury is when the sun has gone down, so once the day’s musical acts are out of the way, I head off the beaten track and into the performance fields to see what I can find. Too often I spend hours on end, waiting outside a door in London, for someone who doesn’t want me to be there to walk out and get into a car before driving away. When I come to somewhere with so much camera fodder on tap, I find it very difficult to switch off at the end of the day. This results in “night patrols” where I just wander and wander through as many areas as I can cover before dawn breaks. Then it’s a rush back to camp for three or four hours sleep before the next day begins. Only being five days long, I can just about manage this before I start falling to pieces!
On Saturday night, the press centre kindly pointed out the the full moon was set to be the “fullest in over twenty years” so after a quick attempt at shooting it, I headed up to the Shangri-La and Block 9 areas to meet up with my AFP colleague James Pheby in the backstage area. Thankfully, the majority of the festival crowds were still at the two main stages so it was easy enough to move around and see some of the wonders of the areas that used to be called Trash City. It’s incredible the amount of effort and time that is put into each section with many sights leaving my jaw thoroughly dropped.
Personal highlights have to be the Wall of Death riders, the full-sized London underground train buried Godzilla-style in the side of a full-sized tower block, the tear-inducing bad taste of lounge crooner Frank Sanazi (a cabaret Hitler tribute) and the hilarity of the tiny karaoke (complete with miniature bodies for the participants).
Another favourite was the “Slumbarave”. This was a club area where shoes were left at the door, bowling alley-style, and an item of clothing was swapped for an item of nightwear. Once suitably dressed, you could enter the club itself where you were encouraged to dance on the beds while having a massive pillow fight. Anyone tiring of this could move to the next room for a foot soak, head massage and back rub. Genius.
With the Stevie Wonder shoot finished on the Sunday night, I headed back up to Shangri-La for a quick glug of cocktail before beginning my final patrol.
Having visited many of the areas already, I decided to focus on video with a lot of the footage from the Sunday evening ending up in an extended webclip that I’ll be posting in a multimedia blog shortly.
With the night sky starting to grow lighter as dawn approached, it was all over again for another year. While certain aspects of the site always stay the same, it’s such a pleasure to be constantly surprised by the incredible creations and innovations that the area designers build for the festival. Glastonbury is a truly unique event and until you’ve visited it at least once, I don’t think you can say that you’ve truly “done” a festival. Happy Birthday, Glastonbury. Here’s to the next forty years.