Beltane Portraits.

In keeping with the natural style of this event, I shot all the portraits on 6×4.5cm film (also because I hate digital at the moment) I used a Mamiya 645 Pro tl. Colour – Kodak Portra 400 and Fuji Pro 400H. Black and white – Kodak Tri-X 400

Helen, my wife, was very clear, very precise with her instructions – “Drive the camper up first thing Friday, get us a good spot, save the Campbell’s a good spot and then just chill-out until I get there at five ‘o’ clock. Do not start drinking until I get there…Phil, promise me…”

I negotiated the camper through the tiny gate entrance at 9.30am, organiser and host, Quilly, was there to take my invitation and a small donation. I parked-up in exactly the same spot as we’d been in last year, unpacked a few things, crisps mainly, and then attempted a little snooze. I cracked open my first beer at 9.55am, by 10pm I’d quaffed 12 cans of Budweiser. None of the photos that I took on Friday were in focus.

Beltane is traditionally a festival that celebrates the arrival of summer, although this year I think we were celebrating a bit prematurely. I woke-up on Saturday morning hungover, with borderline hypothermia, temperatures had dropped well below freezing during the night, even sharing my bed with Leica, our pet spaniel, hadn’t stopped the violent nocturnal shivering. The hangover made things ten times worse. I should have listened to Helen.

You can’t just turn-up at Beltane, you have to be invited. Hosts, Sue and Quilly, are keen to point-out that the piece of paper you have in your hand when you arrive is an invitation, not a ticket. It’s a great idea, it’s a private party, a gathering and when you’re throwing a party you don’t want twenty Vauxhall Nova’s full of Chavs, high on plant food and cans of Monster energy drink turning-up. So, if your name’s not down, you’re not coming in.

Beltane is a great event, my favourite of the year. Sue and Quilly do such an excellent job, and despite Sue saying she won’t, a thousand times, they’ll do it all again next year…


  1. Ally Croft

    Phil, your talent as a photographer, a world class photographer, is undeniable and well known. However, I think you may underestimate your talent as a writer too – your composition of words is superb, but I’m always left hungry for more! Please write more!


  2. Funky Lady 68

    Really,really amazing portraits. Your images have a depth and honesty that you see so very rarely these days,you’re up there with the greats. And I agree – you should write more,it’s superb.


  3. I just love the shots you have taken, and I wish that I had more time in which to get out there with a film camera. I envy you, Phil! ; – )
    As always I look forward to seeing more of your images.


  4. Catching up after being with Dad these past three days. I do so look forward to your photographs, but I would be remiss if i didn’t also second Ally’s praise of your accompanying prose. Really good stuff.


  5. Great photos nice stories, not been on your site before but will definitely be back again. You have a real talent for capturing what it is that makes people, people….


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