Photographing Jugglers – my journey

Inspired by an email, I’ve decided to share a bit about taking photographs of jugglers.

Back in 2000 I attended the British Juggling Convention, and I took along a digital camera, and I put a few hundred images on my website. My website grew into one of the most popular juggling website over the next three years, for many non-photography related reasons, but it started by posting convention photos.

A photo from BJC 2001 in Cardiff.

I kept this up until 2003 when, due to an animation I made going viral, my web server crashed and never recovered. I stopped taking so many photos, and writing up long reviews about conventions, and concentrated on my new job as a professional juggler.

This animation fucked my website.

Then, in 2007 because I was traveling so much, I bought a DSLR camera to document all the places I visited. My photography skills slowly improved, until I actually considered myself to be a pretty decent photographer, rather than just one of the first jugglers with a digital camera, a website, and lots of free time.

In 2009 I decided to make daily photo blog posts from the EJC. I did this because unlike previous years, I had no official organizing duties, and wanted a goal to fulfill for the convention. I got a good reaction on my blog, and was very proud of the photos I captured.

However, taking photos of people juggling isn’t something I’d practiced much, as I was far more used to photographing animals, cities, landscapes, interesting local people and other travel subjects. I had more practice by photo blogging at the Sundance Turkish Juggling Festival 2009, and worked out better work flows, to get images from my camera to the internet more quickly.

Up until this spring, I just posted my photos on my blog. The point of my blog is to post everything I create or do, including music, videos, photography, writing, reading, philosophizing, etc. It gives me a lot of control over presentation, but isn’t well suited for people to respond. Leaving comments on a blog isn’t hard, but I must admit it’s something I very rarely do.

Then I was invited to photograph the House Of Intrika fashion show at the Berlin Juggling Convention this year. Lots of my friends took part so instead of just posting the photos on my blog, I put them on Facebook too. The response, compared to an average blog post, was overwhelming. In two days I had well over 200 comments and “likes”, and dozens of people involved, or who had friends involved, added me as a friend.

So this year, at the EJC in Finland, even though I had to organize six shows in six days, I decided to carry my camera with me as much as possible. Along with two revelations, one technical and one philosophical, I suddenly enjoyed taking photos during shows, rather than hating and avoiding it. Trying to strike a balance between taking great photographs and simply documenting what is happening is difficult, but I expect it to get easier as I continue to get better at effortlessly capturing magical moments.

I posted the resulting photos to my blog and Facebook every night, and once again I got an amazing response. I could hardly keep up with all the commenting and liking and photo tagging, as hundreds came in every day. Also, by the end of the convention, I had hundreds of new Facebook friends.

Another result, or at least an indicator that I’m getting better at photography, is that four juggling magazines have asked permission to use my photographs in their articles or as front cover images. Pretty cool!

Thanks for reading, and thanks for coming along with me on this journey.