Press Photos for Birmingham Opera

A photography job came out of nowhere last month – taking some photos of the rehearsals of Mittwoch Aus Licht, the bonkers Stockhausen opera that Birmingham Opera were putting on. I’d previously shot their production of Life Is A Dream with nice results and they were looking for a similar approach with these.

The brief was to treat it as a documentary exercise – something for the archives primarily – and if any were useful for press then that’d be a bonus. Graham Vick, the director, was also keen that the photos didn’t give anything away so any photos that gave a hint would be useful.

The week I was shooting the Guardian decided they didn’t want the photos of the cellist and the helicopter that everyone else was using and I had to quickly prep some replacements. A couple of these were used by them online and in the G2 section. (My credit got lost in the rush, it seems, but no-one ever pays any attention to those credits so it’s not a bother.)

Seeing it in print, in the first paper copy of The Guardian I’d touched for a few years, was an oddly empty feeling. It’s supposed to be a big deal, having your photo in a national newspaper, and I appreciate it’s a measure of the quality of the photograph in question that it was chosen, but the actual object, badly reproduced on newspaper, is a bit of a let down. But it wasn’t about my photograph. It was about the article and it served the purpose of illustrating and drawing attention to that so I’m happy.

A week later the Guardian did one of their online galleries, essentially posting 10 photos from the Press Pack with captions. My photo from the article was used again along with one of Kathinka Pasveer, joint director of the Stockhausen Foundation, who was there to make sure everything was done correctly.

Now the opera is over (and for the best review I’d urge you to read Leo Chadburn’s magnificent review in The Quietus which pisses all over anything the broadsheet reviewers published) I’m able to show all my photos. Because it’s for the archives I’ve erred on the side of quantity – 135 so far and they’re not all up yet. The Flickr set is here.

I really enjoyed this job. Finding that sweet spot between access and unobtrusiveness is a fun challenge as were the lighting conditions. And the subject matter was constantly giving me more than I could have asked for. An utter delight.

If you’d like to hire me for a similar, or utterly different, photography job, please do get in touch.