Friday 24 February 2012

Irish Trad Session Photoshoot

Firstly, may I say a very big thank you to De Barras of Clonakilty, Denis Noonan and all his fellow trad musicians, for allowing me loose with my camera at the Monday night trad session this week. As always, it was an evening where the craic was abundant and the atmosphere was soaked up by all. This included my American friend, who I had encouraged to join me on this particular flying visit to West Cork.

Whilst it may seem that my Irish documentary work was rounded off last summer with the aspects of life in rural West Cork exhibition, this is infact still an on-going documentary project.
This photoshoot had been arranged to take in an aspect that I so far had not recorded. The traditional music scene still thrives, with DeBarras Folk Club in Clonakilty being a mecca for music of all kinds.

Monday night is 'traditionally the traditional night', with a table being reserved for the group of musicians in the corner of the bar next to the roaring fire. Sometime around 10pm, the whole evening kicks off, and for around two and a half hours, chat, ballads and lively instrumental music entertain the visitors to this cosy and uniquely decorated bar (images). Space is at a premium, and it is not unusual to be four-deep from the bar which places the crowd right on top of the players, who have carefully ensured they have just enough room for the fiddlers elbow movement.

The core of four musicians can swell to nine or more as participation is encouraged. This creates a large circle which inevitably means some players have their back to the audience. This was a condition I had anticipated when I knew I was to photograph in DeBarras. Along with a lack of space and the very very low light levels all would add to make this a challenging photoshoot. I was to shoot completely hand-held, at very high ISO (which admittedly would give atmospheric grain to the images) and using F stops of 5.6 and less. All this whilst respecting the personal space of the musicians and regarding the rest of the audience. Below are just a selection, and to those musicians not included this time, my sincere apologies.

Denis Noonan -
Tommy Madden - Guitar

Cathal Hickey - Banjo

Jerry Lombard (Irl) - Fiddle
Paddy Keenan - Uilleann pipes

Matty Gordon (US) - Fiddle

(Please note all images are copyright Ailec Photography. Copies of these images are available to order. Unauthorised use is not permitted)

Click on images to enlarge
Table coverage - beginning of session

Denis Noonan on Bodhrán

Tommy Madden on Guitar

Matty Gordon (US) on fiddle

Paddy Keenan on Uilleann pipes

Cathal Hickey - Banjo

Table coverage - end of session

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