A long night of drumming followed by a bright awakening

Stonehenge Summer solstice 2016

As I trudged through the car park at 1.30 am on the night of the Solstice, the Strawberry moon was overtaken by the night sky and the morning of the solstice was coming sharply into focus. The Stonehenge car park thronged with a mixture of pre-Glastonbury revelers, tourists, druids and genuine party people.

It is a magical sight as the stones loom closer. It’s one of the two days in the year where English Heritage let the public get close and touch the stones.  Summer and Winter solstices are as different as the seasons, Winter is a calmer, organic and remarkably relaxed event, Summer is a much wilder and hedonistic pre-festival shindig.

Drumming, drumming

As I approached the stones the drumming grew louder, the crush of people greater (10,000 this year) and the intensity richer. Inside the circle, groups lay on the ground in sleeping bags propped up against the stones. People danced and drums banged.

I was on assignment to cover the event and had to make sense of it all to make a picture. Despite feeling alien, it was remarkably welcoming in the centre of the stones and people genuinely wanted to be there and part of the event. After a while the drumming fell into the background and the darkness and the closeness became normal and I could start to work.

Sun Rise, Finally!

Waiting for the Sun became the focus and any wisps or streaks of light over the horizon were studiously observed. The eerie pre-dawn light invokes a strange fascination, making the camera work with every pixel to grab any information.

Finally at 4.52am the Sun crept over the horizon and Stonehenge was gradually bathed in glorious rich dawn light. The point of all this was to capture the events of the night and sum up the feeling, that’s what event, news and corporate photography needs. It needs the ability to sum up an event, make a visual impact and above all give a sense of uniqueness to each captured moment.

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