Adam Gray talks about his Winter Solstice assignment at Stonehenge in our regular ‘Pictures of the Week’ feature…
Solstice at Stonehenge is always one of the picture highlights of the year twice a year thousands of revelers, druids and pagans gather at the ancient monument to a soundtrack of beating drums, singing and dancing. This years winter solstice was celebrated on the 22 December rather than the 21st which was officially the shortest day as Monday’s sunrise was the closest to the moment when the North Pole was tilted furthest from the sun.
Previewing the weather on the days running up to the event things were not looking good overcast and potentially wet, meaning the potential of an actual sunrise was low. After a 3am start and 5am arrival to a waiting area near the stones I could see that the weather wasn’t going to break. After 3+ attempts i’ve yet to see a sunrise!
However, the myriad of characters and the truly special location always ensure that a trip is not in vain. During the initial ceremony working inside the stones is always a challenge, with hundreds of people squashed into a fairly small area space is at a premium even more so when trying to juggle three camera bodies and a monopod (for those above head wide shots). I usually work pretty quickly once the light comes up, ticking off all of the necessary shots before wiring them back to my desk in time to be sent early doors to the newspaper desks.
With the sun rising at 8:09am, I had filed all of my photographs by 9:30am, meaning a grand total of 2 hours max was spent at the site (besides the early waiting for entrance). Besides the lack of space (which is nothing compared to the festival that is summer solstice), the main challenge this year was taking photographs which did not contain numerous other camera’s or phones being held up in shot. It’s a common occurrence on jobs but on this occasion it was particularly bad! When trying to capture something which looks like a traditional Stonehenge druid ceremony it can make things hard. Sometimes the problem can almost become a part of the story though so photographs of people taking selfies and holding ipads aloft etc became a part of the day.
By the end of the assignment I was pretty happy with my photographs which hopefully captured the essence of what was going on around me… roll on the summer solstice.
(Adam’s photos made several national newspapers).
See more of Adam’s photos in his gallery: Adam Gray