Anyone who has been involved in photographing an event at The Natural History Museum will have been witness to the incredible transformation that happens in record time. The museum is open to the public and access for all contractors is only permissible the moment the very last schoolboy/girl, tourist or keen amateur paleontologist skips down the steps. At this point an army of hasty people rush in to transform the rooms into whatever incredible scene has been designed. Electricians, florists, caterers, security, stage builders, musicians, party planners, chefs, videographers, waiting staff, lighting crews, barmen and photographers all frantically lurch into action and have a very limited time to turn everything around. Depending on the complexities of the design this can be extremely stressful and demanding. The sets, stage and tables are all arranged around Dippy the dinosaur who has since gone on tour and is I'm sure gobbling up schoolchildren in some other museum. I recall one amazing charity event here when James Brown performed on stage. It was one of those moments when it was hard to focus on capturing the atmosphere despite the burning desire to ditch my camera and just dance. The female dancers lined up in the stage, turned around, bent over and revealed JB written on their hot pants. I immediately called my father John to tell him there are some girls dancing here who not only know him but appear to really like him.
This evening’s transformation was in aid of The Walkabout Foundation Inaugural Gala. I was on this occasion working for the brilliant photographer Nick Harvey. The charity aims to raise money to find a cure for paralysis and helps those suffering. President Bill Clinton hosted the evening with a very moving speech on spinal research and The Walkabout Charity. The charity raised money with the help of auctioneer Simon de Pury who is always a pleasure to watch as he takes the stand and manages to seduce the guests to kindly donate. The evening ended on an high with the incredible Nile Rogers performing on stage. The guests included many celebrities some of whom are included in this set of images. Focus was on capturing full-length shots of the elegant guests, celebrities and generous benefactors. This is very much what I used to shoot for Vogue and there were numerous familiar faces amongst the guests and its always a pleasure to catch up and say hello to people I know.