Welcome to the British Guild of Travel Writers fourth online photography exhibition. This time the theme is Festivals.
Festivals are multifaceted. They’re often a celebration of an aspect of a religion though often that connection may not be immediately obvious. The partying of the pre-Lent Carnival season has common roots yet takes differing forms in the likes of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Cologne and Venice.
Attending a festival has the potential to provide travellers with insights into local beliefs and customs. For travellers hungry for authentic experiences, attending a festival can be a way of immersing in an aspect of a country’s culture and meeting local people. They can be insightful, memorable and fun to attend.
Equally, attending a festival and photographing at it has the potential to raise complex ethical issues. What should and what shouldn’t be recorded by photographers and shared publicly? Do people have a right to privacy at public events such as festivals? Laws and expectations vary around the world.
Inevitably, interpretations of festivals can change over time. Photography is a means of recording events, rituals and traditions.
Our members attend and participate in literary, food and photography festivals. Chris Coe is a founder of the Travel Photographer of the Year contest, otherwise known as TPOTY, which announced the winners of its 2019 competition on 21 January.
Also in January, Guild members travelled to Bristol, touring the SS Great Britain ahead of the 50th anniversary of her homecoming. A calendar full of commemorative events will culminate in a huge celebration from the 17th to 19th July, in conjunction with Bristol Harbour Festival.
As ever, Guild members have been given free reign to interpret the theme — Festivals.
Online Photography Exhibition: Festivals
John Malathronas is a travel writer and photographer whose photos have been published by CNN Travel and The Daily Telegraph. His contribution to the exhibition shows revellers at Sziget Festival, an annual music festival held on an island north of Budapest. “This photo encapsulates the youthful, smiling exuberance of the colourful ‘Szitizens’, as the partygoers call themselves,” says John.
Geoff Moore creates written content, videos and photos. His images have been used by the likes of The Daily Mail and The Times. “Camp Bestival festival in Dorset has taken place in the grounds of Lulworth Castle over recent years. This is very much a family-oriented event and is held over three days during the summer school holidays,” he explains.
Petra Shepherd has had work featured by HuffPost and MannedUp.com. She submitted photography from the Marula Festival in Eswatini, the African nation formerly know as Swaziland. “The Marula Festival is one of the largest festivals in Eswatini, a country known for its festivals. Local marula fruit is harvested and used to make beer to a traditional recipe which is then presented to the Queen Mother by literally thousands of women in traditional dress singing and dancing,” explains Petra.
Janine Marsh photographed the Dunkirk Carnival in northern France. “The Carnival of Dunkirk harks back to the 17th century and celebrates the tradition of local fishermen leaving for long haul expeditions…men dress as women to represent that all the men left. It’s noisy, boisterous, colourful, bizarre and brilliant,” says Janine, whose work has been featured in publications including Living France and French Entrée.
Tim Bird is based in Finland and frequently photographs in Asia. “The aarti or evening festival of prayer takes place daily at different locations along the Ganges. This devout celebrant was taking part in the ritual during the festival of Dev Diwali at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, an especially holy city for Hindus,” explains Tim.
Peter Ellegard’s work has been published in the likes of Essentially America and TTG. His submission to this exhibition is an image of an alms-giving festival featuring 12,000 monks that takes place in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, each December.
“I happened to be staying in Chiang Mai on a visit to Thailand and had been told of this festival a few days earlier. I wanted to make sure I experienced it for myself, so I got up before 5.00am and hailed a tuk-tuk to the street, to find it was already a colourful and noisy throng,” explains Peter.
“The anticipation before the procession started was incredible and the sight of lines of vivid saffron and orange-coloured robes as the monks, old and young, paraded up and down in between the kneeling soldiers while the crowd eagerly sought out the best views and to give their offerings was utterly unforgettable. So too was the serene atmosphere of the event. Within a couple of hours the monks and crowd had dispersed and the road was once more filled with the traffic and hubbub of a typical Asian metropolis,” he adds about the event.
Stuart Forster has had work published by Wanderlust and Rough Guides. “I’m based in the northeast of England and thought I’d submit an image that I photographed locally. It shows Durham Cathedral illuminated during the Lumiere Durham festival of lights, which is held every two years. I’ve photographed at all six editions of the festival and decided to include the silhouettes of onlookers in this image,” he said.
Duncan J.D. Smith is the author of the Only In Guides series of guidebooks, which now features 13 cities, and features in Hidden Europe magazine. His image shows a woman dressed to participate in Hamburg’s annual Altonale festival.
Festivals around the world
Lisa Gerard-Sharp’s images have appeared in National Geographic Traveller and Italian Vogue. For this exhibition she submitted photographs of Carnival capers in Venice.
“I chose this one as a case of working against the odds as, having broken my wrist just before the trip, it meant covering Venice Carnival solo, with my arm in plaster,” says Lisa, who proves herself ‘handy’ with a camera.
“Venice Carnival is a time for travesty so when the thick fogs roll in off the lagoon, even waiters and water-taxi operatives don costumes and turn into decadent Doges and drama queens,” she adds.
Mark Andrews photographed lanterns lighting up a cold evening in Japan’s Hokkaido during the Snow Gleaming Festival. “This is a classic shot of Otaru enhanced by the winter snow and the illuminations showing the old warehouses and the banks of the river,” says the man whose photographs have graced the pages of Blue Wings and the South China Morning Post.
Valery Collins, whose images have been published on GPSmyCity.com, sent a photograph from Pyrohovo, an open-air museum near Kiev in the Ukraine. “This lovely, Ukrainian-style nativity scene brightened up my day…This colourful, simple representation of the nativity reminded me that Christmas is a festival celebrated all over the world and in many different ways,” says Valery.
Dave Saunders, who has had images published in The Times and The Daily Telegraph, took his camera out in London. “The Notting Hill Carnival is invariably lively, with plenty of scope for dramatic images, says Dave, who enjoys depicting the natural lives of people plus flora and fauna.
Andrew Day’s work has featured in The Guardian and Rough Guides. “This image was taken in Bluffton, South Carolina at the annual Taste of Bluffton Street Festival. I always liked this photo as it captured the joy and innocence of a young child dancing without a care in the world,” says Andrew.
Travel photography and Guild social handles
This online photography exhibition was curated by Stuart Forster, whose travel images have been published in newspapers, magazines and websites around the world.
If you enjoyed this online exhibition, please share it via social media using the hashtag #BGTWFestivals. If you have any questions about the exhibition you’re welcome to engage with the Guild via the @travwriters handle on Instagram and Twitter.
Award-winning features writer for consumer magazines. trade publications, national newspapers and online travel sites. Stuart's blog, Go Eat Do, focuses on travel and food. He is the director of a photography company (whyeyephotography.com).
Stuart is based in northeast England, so ideally placed if you’re seeking a travel writer from Newcastle, County Durham or Northumberland. He covers elsewhere in northern England or southern Scotland.
Additionally, Stuart specialises in Canada, the Netherlands and Germany. He speaks fluent German. He lived in India for five years so has in-depth experience of South India.
Contact Stuart for features relating to travel photography, beer and brewing, city breaks, driving holidays and perspectives on spa tourism.