“Write about the writer’s block…The more you write about it, the more you’ll dissolve it.”
Here are the highlights of Steve McCurry’s talk with Tim Marlow at Hay Festival 2015
1. Don’t ask for permission to take photos of strangers.
Interestingly McCurry is firm in his belief over the precedence of capturing a shot over the hesitation of appropriateness. For example as McCurry’s photography usually is taken in challenging climates for example war zones or during a human struggle like health. Unless there is an express rejection (i.e. a distressed shaking of the head, a hand gesturing the camera away or someone actively asserting no photos to be taken) then Steve McCurry will take a photo of the individual or persons regardless of the state they are in distressed or otherwise. Of course this raises ethical concerns and a fine balance of permission, respect must unite with the Photographer’s prerogative and aim of capturing raw, graphic truth onto physical image. Also it is impossible in a war zone! Notably the Magnum Photographer mentioned how the medium of street photography does not typically request permission to photograph, such requests are tricky given the masses of people potentially present at say a festival being shot and it an awareness of being filmed understandably changes the subject’s behaviour due to the awareness of being seen etc.
2. On the flipside for one-on-one photographs ask permission.
A classic example would be when Sharbat Gula a.k.a ‘The Afghan Girl’ 1984 shot was reunited with the famed photographer in 2002 for a second portrait of her.
3. “Extensively, compulsively and obsessively,” reiterated by Tim Marlow on how determinedly dedicated a photographer must be to retain his body of work. McCurry also asserts that “my camera is my notebook.” Thereby photos taken on a camera are not jut for the portfolio but a means of generating ideas and capturing inspiring moments for future projects.
4. Never take Beautiful photos.
Or rather don’t aim to take conventionally pretty shots. Beauty is never the prime focus of this world famous photographer.
5. Photography is your Life.
McCurry is so dedicated, obsessed and in love with this medium that he is never really not photographing even when on restful holidays he feels compelled to use his camera!
There is an island spot where you can sit on the free deck chairs but it was a drizzly day and it was not worth getting mud on my shoes to sit there. With better weather it’s an opportune time to read and wait in between events. 🙂
The venues are clearly sign posted and there are lot’s of stalls and random things to look at. All good fun for any age and if you have children 🙂There was a charming blackboard of quotes and wishes people wanted to accomplish before they die. Again my phobia of mud paralysed me from walking over and jotting down my very modest bucketlist: a luxury holiday in the Maldives, publish lot’s and lot’s of books, fall in love, eat Beluga Caviar with Lord Disick and go shopping with Mark Francis Vandelli and Ooooo meet Louis Theroux! 😛
The onsite Bookshop:
This is where you can purchase new and some backlist titles of the writers and authors in attendance. Also the book-signings take place here too!
Check out my video from my Youtube Channel: Catherine Vaughan for behind the scenes views!
Hay-On-Wye is a magical and whimsical little market town on the English/Welsh borders-near my hometown. Plenty of charming bookshops, cafés and gift shops. And once a year there is an inflow of literary and artistic minds gathered to educate, entertain and inspire.
Ironically for the past 5 years I had not attended an event because I was too busy working in a bookshop or always seemed to book my annual vacation in Malta on the exact same week!
I was fortunate to get a Monday afternoon off and scoured the pages for events to attend. Of course nobody around me gives a damn about reading, the arts so I knew I would be riding solo yet again.
I was very nearly going to attend Mr Hook of Sotheby’s talk on the Art World and his book but then there was a picture book panel with three illustrators/creative extraordinaire’s so being as ridiculously frugal as I am I figured it’d be a three for one which would be a more efficient use of my time.
As you can see the festival like many other literary ones are a series of connected maze-like tents. The entrance to the festival can get very muddy and you would not be out of place to wear wellies particularly as our British Summer may decide to drizzle on us or worse! My Clarke ballet flats fortunately got over the very unbearable though brief exposure to wet mud. It does understandably get very busy and jam-packed as you walk around the tent but it is not that gigantic, you will not get lost and the loos are onsite and easy to get to though the queues for them can be enormous. For some reason I did not eat a thing that whole afternoon so have no idea what the onsite cafés and food stalls are like. There is plenty of seating area in some open café areas.
A note on travel:
Because I live nearby I simply hopped onto my local 39 Hereford to Hay-on-Wye bus. It is an hour ride possibly £9 return ticket if my memory serves. I did notice that the special Festival Bus link last year were late. From what I heard from other festival goers the Festival bus was an hour late and it’s route were delayed (on the Monday I went.) So a lot of people that previously purchased festival bus tickets paid again to use the local 39 Yeomans bus. This Yeomans bus is not in service during the late evening. Anyhoo the drive/ride from Hereford to Hay is beautiful, scenic and quintessentially British. Once you arrive at Hay there are buses going back and forth regularly to the festival site and it’s £1 return to and from Hay and the site. It’s a very quick journey 10 mins max. I hope that helps!