Manchester Literature Festival – 15 Events photographed in 6 weeks

Manchester Literature Festival – 15 Events photographed in 6 weeks

At the beginning of October I was approached to begin covering the Manchester Literature Festival. A total of 15 live events across Manchester city centre with a diverse range of poets, authors and well known famous faces. The Festival provides unique and imaginative events for people to experience live literature in Manchester venues. The brief was quite simple, capture the Festival events with nice portraits of the performers before each event if possible, and pictures during the onstage conversations or performances.

The first event was BBC Radio presenter Jenni Murray at the Royal Northern College of Music. Technically the venue presented a difficult lighting situation with strong stage lighting and coloured lights which can fool the metering and white balance meters. Shooting in manual and in RAW format meant I could fine tune the white balance afterwards and just concentrate on taking pictures. Also the light level in the venue was really low, and flash isn’t an option as it kills the ambience and is really an unwanted distraction for the performers and audience. Therefore fast lenses are my favourite option meaning a shallow depth of field making focus critical. 

The following events included Lauren Child, author of Charlie & Lola books, TV presenter Graham Norton, author Kate Atkinson, comedian Jo Brand and American author Barbara Kingsolver just to name a few. Most of the authors I photographed at the venues, my favourite being a behind the scenes library room inside Manchester Central Library which had a door with a false book shelf. This feature provided a great location to photograph Barbara Kingsolver (top left picture) before her interview on stage.

The final event I photographed involved the folk band Faustus performing at the Central Library to writings based on the Lancashire Cotton Famine of 1861-5. Again, strong coloured lighting resulted in some very atmospheric photographs of the band playing. You can see a gallery of my images from the festival here.

Paul Burrows

With over 30 years experience, Paul is a talented professional photographer based in Manchester. Paul can help you capture beautiful memories and key moments at weddings and events, whilst also providing professional headshots, and taking photos for use in various marketing mediums.