1st October 2014 - The Art of Make Believe

A return visit from photographer Ann Cook was eagerly anticipated by club members as her previous visit provided the audience with some excellent on and off stage shots of the Glastonbury festivals which she had recorded from many visits. Her talk this time was also about performers and was entitled ‘The Art of Make Believe’.
Her talk featured many high class portraits of three kinds of performance, dressing up and make-up.
The first was a series of images taken over several years of a dance school for children aged 3-18 who were photographed in Strode Theatre. Initially Ann used bounced flash as her lighting source but then moved on to a continuous lighting facility which produced a soft light perfect for portraits.
Her posed images of the dancers in costume for various shows such as ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘Oklahoma’ were contrasted with others which more candid of the dancers out of costume practising their routines some of which had been accepted by the London Salon. It was also interesting to see some of the students at different ages as they had progressed through the dance school. Ann stressed the importance of getting the eyes sharp if nothing else as the essence of this kind of photography and her pictures proved this point. She also emphasised how she tried ‘to get beyond the face’ to bring out the character of the individual and a smiling face does not usually do that!
Her second set of images was very different. These were of a group of belly-dancing students whose performances in Strode Theatre were shot under very difficult lighting conditions. Even so these were superb and in particular her several triptych sets where swirling cloaks counterpointed pin sharp faces and feet.
Finally came images taken at local Somerset carnivals. Carnival floats are notoriously difficult to photograph but are worth the effort. ‘Why bother with Venice? ‘claimed Ann as she showed fascinating portraits of some of the characters who ride the carnival floats. These she had taken just before the carnival set off – a tip worth remembering if you want to get better pictures of this annual event.