I went to a boarding school near to Buckingham and many, many years ago I photographed my first fashion shoot in the grounds of Stowe School. The model was my first love and we were just 16 and 18 years old at the time. I photographed my dreamy girlfriend with an old Bronica medium format camera on TMax 120mm roll film and she wore a little black dress (obviously). At that point I didn’t know I would end up being a professional photographer. I still have the photos from that shoot and often peek at them with a smile on my face as I recall the hazy, lazy summer days of my youth spent wandering the stunning grounds of this historical school. So all these years later I couldn’t believe it when I was asked to return to Stowe School to photograph the leavers ball. I stood on the steps of the school in my tuxedo looking out onto the grounds and reminisced about all I did here so many years ago. But this time I was being paid to take pictures and I had a few hundred people to snap as they celebrated the final days of their school lives. This was a James Bond themed party with Bond girls, a casino, girls painted in gold, Jaws and even James Bond himself acting out a dramatic fight scene with some evil baddies and their henchman. There were fireworks, a funfair, bumper cars and one wild nightclub.
I am often amazed at people’s reactions to social photographers at private events. Guests need to give back and work with us to a degree to help create great images. A welcome smile, someone asking if I’ve had a drink, how do I know the client, suggesting a group shot and asking if I’m ok all make me feel not only welcome but energized and excited to create great pictures for the client. I am forever fascinated by the guests that still don’t quite get it that we are there creating lasting memories not for my mantelpiece but for their friend or relative obviously. Certain guests react as if I’ve wandered off the street and have randomly just started taking pictures. The pupils of Stowe School thankfully were all fully on board and were utterly gracious, charming and hilarious. They were so friendly and simply awesome to snap. Once again I am reminded how much I thrive on recording people celebrating life moments and I hope I leave them with a lasting record of such a memorable, happy and momentous occasions.