Daniel’s Story: Fire and Photography

Daniel Rannoch is on the BFS Board of Directors and has been involved with Photopoint (our official volunteer photography group) as both a member and Group Organiser.

Danny by Ellen Duffy
Above: Daniel at a Beltane 2012 Walkthrough rehearsal, by Ellen Duffy.
All other photos by Daniel.

I’ve been involved in Photopoint since my introduction to Beltane in 2008. That night I stood on a hill, in the dark, the rain and the cold and watched something that I had never seen before. At the end of the performance all I could remember was all consuming excitement. All consuming excitement and cold to my very bones, yet I wanted more.

Beltane Festival, Edinburgh, by Daniel Rannoch

My role on that night was as a photo assistant. I held a long pole with a flash on the end and was directed by one of the photographers, by radio, to positions that needed to be lit. I got to see about a third of the whole event. Even though I wasn’t taking pictures I felt like I had just finished doing something very important and I felt pride in my small but significant involvement in the team.

I waited patiently, through summer, autumn and winter and when the next Open Meeting was announced I knew that I wanted to be with Photopoint again.

Beltane Festival, Edinburgh, by Daniel Rannoch

So why did I chose Photopoint in the first place? Well, simply put, I love taking photos. I had been doing so as a hobby for a few years and when I moved to Edinburgh it was clear that photographing an event like Beltane would be a fantastic opportunity to create some stunning images of a totally unique event. In my second Beltane I got to be a photographer but I also got to be part of the preparations too, something that I had missed the previous year. That year I experienced a community and that is what has kept me coming back.

Beltane Festival, Edinburgh, by Daniel Rannoch

Being in Photopoint hasn’t changed much over the years. As a member one is expected to put in the same amount of effort and attention to detail as a performer and we have just as much fun too. We make costumes, talk about our ‘character and persona’, we practise photography techniques instead of acrobatic or dance skills, we have photographers rituals that help us bond as a group but one thing we do get a unique view on is how all the different groups build their story and the performance on the night.

Beltane Festival, Edinburgh, by Daniel Rannoch

The night of the event is where we start to get our reward for our dedication to preparation. In the months leading up to the event we spend our time learning our skills but we also get to know the performers and we build up a great friendship with them too. What this means is that on the night we have both a broad view of the whole event (we get to actually see it happen) as well as very meaningful and intimate moments with the performers whilst we document the festival. Of course, whilst the event is happening this is all just sweeping over us as we move from point to point on that dark and magical hill.

Beltane Festival, Edinburgh, by Daniel Rannoch

It really all comes home to us when we see our photographs for the first time. It’s then that we realise the significance of what we have achieved – images that show a community of volunteers having produced something powerful and enchanting. Every now and then there is an image that shows something more. An moment frozen in time that could only have been captured by the deep understanding and trust between the photographer and the performer. It is those images that we cherish the most because through us we allow the world to see the mystery and marvel of Beltane.

Beltane Festival, Edinburgh, by Daniel Rannoch

So, you read this and ask yourself, “Is this something that I can do?” The answer is always yes. There is only one requirement to join Photopoint and it’s the same requirement of any group in Beltane. Are you prepared to be dedicated, open minded and enthusiastic about helping to create this special event? That is it. No experience, no equipment and no qualifications are needed. Only time, patience and an inquisitive outlook, though I think having a camera helps a lot!

I’m passionate about Beltane and through Photopoint I have found a way to show people how special it is too.

Beltane Festival, Edinburgh, by Daniel Rannoch

Keep an eye on our blog to find out about the Open Meeting for Beltane 2013 so you can come along and get involved!

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