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Sunday, 14 June 2009

In loco parentis

Scary Old Doghouse

Yesterday I received this email:

"Hiya My Names Sxxxxxxx I'm 18 & a student studying photography in Cardiff & I've decided to try & look around to see if any photography based company's are interested in taking on myself for some kind of work experience, obviously not paid I'm just looking for some kind of insight into what people like yourselves do & how you got there.
If you could kindly get back to me either way.
Thank you,

I thought about it for a while and responded:

"If you really want to see what it is like at the sharp end, you are welcome to follow me on a shoot. I take it you are busy today - but, if you are interested I'm covering the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival at the CIA this afternoon/evening then shooting a band called Sicknote later this evening.

You are welcome to join me if you like."

She then replied that she would be available and would be able to join me. It was then I began to worry. Re-reading her email I realised she was only 18. I wasn't sure about 18 year old girls at beer festivals and punk gigs. I ascertained that her mother would be driving her into the city centre, suggested that we meet in the Vulcan and that her mother would come and meet me and have a chat with Liz (the Landlady of the Vulcan) who would give me some sort of character reference.

Now, you might think I'm being a little paranoid here but from experience I can tell you that there are a lot of seedy people out there who use the excuse of photography to 'impress' the young - I'm not one of them, as some of you will know I'm just a cynical old fashioned 'tog.

I then popped into the Cardiff International Arena (CIA) to get her a guest pass and we met at the designated time. Her mother, though wary seemed to approve of the evening's plan of action and it was arranged that she would be collected at 10:30pm.

She certainly knew her way round her camera and was not at all fazed by the bizarre lighting conditions inside the CIA. The Jug Band were on form as always providing many opportunities for photographs.

We then moved on to the Sicknote gig. Sicknote have quite a reputation and have been banned from playing in most of the venues in South Wales. The gig in fact was for the silver wedding anniversary of two of Sicknote's biggest fans.

I introduced Sxxxxxxx to Doghouse and Flapsandwich (of Sicknote) and was mildly surprised by their paternal attitude to Sxxxxxxx. We then telephoned her father and arranged for her to be collected at 11:00 from outside the venue.

The evening went well until 10:50 when I lost sight of Sxxxxxxx. This was when the real panic set in. Where was she? What would I say to her parents? Why did I ever agree to this?

After a few minutes of frantic searching I spotted her on stage with the band. Her response "Well you told me to get closer to fill the frame".

Relief. We departed at the designated time and her father even gave me a lift home. The photographs are good and the whole evening got me thinking.

At 18 Sxxxxxxx is an adult. What was I doing at 18? Thinking back I was playing in a band, drinking beer and running round with a camera. Plus ca change.

The thing that worries me most is that there are currently more students studying photography in Britain than there are working photographers in all of Europe. Somehow I feel that Sxxxxxxx will make it.


  1. Follow up - I've just receieved this from Sxxxxxxx

    "I had a great time thanks again for letting me tag along with you :)
    I like the shot's you got last night especially the one of doghouse & the little girl that's a great one! I'm going to upload mine on flickr tonight.
    Your blog did make laugh even more so the part where you described " losing me" hahah you did tell me to get "right in there" & that I did.
    If you ever do anything like that in the future keep me in mind I'd love to tag along again.
    Thank you,

    A gluton for punishment I think

  2. good stuff Dom... why is her name hidden? and where are her photos!?? thanks xxx