In our second Samhuinn Through the Years post, we hear from Bleu Hope who took part in his first Samhuinn Fire Festival last year. He also shares a selection of photos he took at last year’s festival and the Samhuinn 2014 busk…
I first took part in Samhuinn in 2014. Just earlier in the year, I had taken part in my first Beltane as well. Every Society-related festival I witnessed and/or participated in (including smaller-scale events such as Imbolc and the Jazz and Blues Parade) was a succession of entirely new experiences for me around about this time. It proved to be in every way informative, educational and all in all just good fun.
I was a member of Photopoint, this being the second time I had taken part as one of our resident photographers. What I learned on a technical level proved highly beneficial in the long term for me, not just when it came to capturing future festivals but also in my own work outwith the Society’s boundaries. I’m really amazed at how much I’ve grown and matured as a photographer through my Beltane-related activities, I can’t lie. Even though I had already studied photography at college for three years, it’s as a member of Photopoint that’s proved to be the best part of my photographic education, especially when I needed it the most.
For varying reasons you become more adept at coping under pressure and working with, at times, a high number of fairly limited light sources and equipment. On an unrelated note, I also find that after a while the constant sound of drumming becomes about as intense and as frightening as Brian Eno’s Music for Airports but as always, each to their own.
In the three or so months between the end of my first Beltane and the beginning of my first Samhuinn, I experienced a couple of changes in my personal life that prompted me to take more proactive measures when it came to things like self-development. I had left college in the June of that year (for a multitude of reasons spanning here, there and everywhere), and I had split from my girlfriend at the time just under a month later. Both of these events could have easily consumed me with all sorts of apathy but in the end, the very opposite ended up occurring.
Not wanting to let any personal grievances wear me down, I picked myself up and cut out anything I felt was holding me back as a person. At the same time I reassessed my strengths and set myself the goal of taking any past achievement and looking for ways to better it even further. Having had time to reflect on what went well and what was lacking during my first Beltane, I arrived at the Samhuinn 2014 Open Meeting with every intention of giving it my all this time around. All this, in addition to experimenting with new photographic ideas I had formulated in the last couple of months also.
I can’t pinpoint one stand-out memory from Samhuinn, but I do recall quite a few BFS members using my shots as their profile pictures and cover photos on Facebook before and after the festival had started. I was, and still am, very flattered and chuffed by all this. To me this is a sign that you’re not only doing something right as a photographer, but that this may lead to even greater successes in other areas of the creative industries if that’s the career path you’ve chosen to take. Ever since, my confidence as a portrait photographer has skyrocketed in a way I couldn’t have possibly imagined beforehand.
On a more humourous note, it was not long before the Scottish Independence Referendum that we had one of our Photopoint meetings in the Meadows just as a demonstration was taking place. I can’t quite recall whether it was in support of a Yes or a No vote, but all those pretty passionate (or pissed off) activists reminded me of a mix between V for Vendetta and 28 Days Later. The fog didn’t quite help ease the intensity of the situaton I should add!
I’m very committed to Photopoint, and I’m feeling optimistic about taking part as a member of that group again this year and for as long as I’m able to. The chance to pick up new techniques, and collaborate with peformers and photographers both old and new, always fills me up with a great deal of excitement. I just love being able to capture all these great memories for all those involved because everyone’s a winner and it just builds you up for the better in every possible way.
Finally, I’d like to add for this year to expect some great photos! And a happy Samhuinn to all of you lovely people of course 🙂