Diwali: Hayley Madden shoots at The Museum of the Home

It’s the final day of Diwali today, so we caught up with Hayley Madden, who recently shot an event at The Museum of the Home;

“This brief was to shoot the Diwali events that had been specially laid on by the Museum of the Home over the weekend and included an interactive Rangoli exhibit at the Entrance by Artist Bhajan Hunjan, storytelling by Vaishali Raithatha, diya decorating and Bollywood dancing workshops.  

 My main objective was to get lots of engaged participants and lots of colour. The museum was not too crowded which is actually better for events, as too many people can mean your views and options are more restricted. Getting the right balance of looking busy and not looking empty is a fine one.  

© - Hayley Madden

© - Hayley Madden

Images ©Hayley Madden

Taking events at Museums can be very tricky as not only must you be very aware (no one will thank you for knocking over a priceless exhibit because your lens wasn’t wide enough but your backside was) but the lighting is usually very dim and contrasty. You have to get your exposure spot on so you can pull up the shadows AND bring back the highlights in the post-processing.  

 Also, although there are notices informing people that photos are being taken, it is good practice to make sure everyone is aware of what you are doing before you start firing away by actually asking them for permission. I never try to sneak up on people or take photos without permission. If you are shooting all day, then you are bound to run into the same people over and over again so it’s best not to make enemies from the start. At the same time, I never set up any shots either and try to keep everything as real as possible. Once people get used to you being around the novelty soon wears off and they ignore you.  

Images ©Hayley Madden

I have to say, the new mirrorless range of cameras are amazing for documentary in museums. I’m a Nikon girl, and the Z6 was fantastic for this job as it is completely silent.  

 Museum photography may not the most well paid, but I love it as you get to meet the most interesting people and to photograph the most amazing things.”

Image ©Hayley Madden

National Author’s Day; Scarlet Page Shoots Henley Literary Festival

In 1928, the president of the Illinois Women’s Club, Nellie Verne Burt McPherson, came up with the idea to recognise the brilliant writers that have entertained and instructed readers for generations. This was eventually approved by the club in May 1929, with an agreement being forged to celebrate all authors, past and present, on November 1st of each year. 

Although the US department of Commerce only acknowledged the day in 1949, National Author’s Day is a popular day of recognition in the Western world and on social media. The way in which to celebrate the day is relatively vague – some prefer to curl up with their favourite novel, while others see fit to give their appreciation in writing to their favourite author - this is what McPherson’s granddaughter, Sue Cole, urges readers to do.

Writing novels is a lonely endeavour, in fact, the Guardian interviewed a group of novelists, asking whether being an author was a joy or a chore. Hari Kunzru stated that “Writing a novel is largely an exercise in psychological discipline – trying to balance your project on your chin while negotiating a minefield of depression and freak-out.” 

This is why National Author’s Day is so important, to recognise the hard-work put in by writers all over the world.  

Along with their day of recognition, those who engage in literary fiction come together in cultural events to support the art-form and its contributors.  

One of the most popular literary festivals happens yearly in Henley, Oxfordshire. Launched in 2007, the festival has become a staple of the literary scene in the UK.  

This year celebrities and authors like Robert Webb, Ruby Wax and Rachel Edwards attended and gave talks about their latest works.  

The festival had various figures in many different industries, like the two women behind the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine (Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green) who have released Vaxxers, a book outlining the trials and tribulations of producing a vaccine in record time.  

Our photographer, Scarlet Page, has attended and shot Henley for four years running. We asked her what Henley is like;  

Is there a reason you keep going back to shoot Henley every year? 

“I exhibited my Resonators exhibition in its infancy in 2016 and absolutely loved the team and vibe, I live fairly locally and felt drawn to be part of it again.”
 Was there anything you attended you particularly enjoyed? 

“This year Ruby Wax hit a chord and also listening to the Vaxxers talk was very interesting. Tom Allen got my funniest talk award, I was lol-ing whilst snapping.”

Anything to add?

“They do the best brownies in the green room, Gower Cottage Brownies!”

Images ©Scarlet Page

It’s Spooky Season! Hayley Madden on Halloween

Happy Halloween!  

As it’s spooky season, our very own Hayley Madden has unearthed some scary stuff from the vault, from when she partook in a shoot for the band; Pythia. 

Pythia are an English symphonic metal band founded in 2007. 

We asked Hayley about her shoot and post production experiences:

“The band had grand ideas for the first album and the imagery. As well as a strong promotional portrait, they wanted an album cover and a whole booklet with fantasy portraits for each song.  

It was the first time I really used Photoshop for a commission with a tight deadline so it was pretty full on.”  

© Hayley Madden

© Hayley Madden

© Hayley Madden

Images ©Hayley Madden

“The great thing about Photoshop is it allows you to fulfil amazing ideas when money is an issue. Setting up a fire, getting a real horse, hiring a castle would have been way beyond our means. 

Each image represents a song and each band member is in at least three shots. We hired a small studio for the day and I shot everything against a black background so I had complete control over the lighting. The band wore the costumes they wear on stage. All the backgrounds in the images are sampled photos. I created the weather effects, snow, rain and light rays… 

I don’t see Photoshop as a way of cheating. It is like a DJ mixing samples to create a new song. When electronic music and sampling first became popular it was frowned upon by the trendy music scene, but it gave creative access to a whole load of people who could not afford music lessons or bands who could not hire a producer and studio. Now sampling is very much the norm. 

Just as great music can be created in someone’s bedroom, so great imagery can be created without the need for grand sets and locations.”  

© Hayley Madden

© Hayley Madden

© Hayley Madden

Images ©Hayley Madden

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