During the summer I had the pleasure of working on a members engagement campaign celebrating the 40th anniversary of a ‘Fellowship’ body that represents some of world’s most respected Punch & Judy ‘Professors’.
The project involved travelling the country to photograph portraits and interview 31 of the members about what they did during lockdown and movement restrictions that prevented them from entertaining.
The project was first discussed in November last year and the Fellowship were looking for creative ideas to celebrate their birthday against a backdrop of the worst period for performing in their history.
I suggested that I capture a series of environmental portraits that placed the subject in or around their home, doing an activity that had kept them motivated and allowed them to be creative. I also wanted to use only natural light and keep the kit small.
On the first day of shooting I took five cameras with a range of lenses to literally, cover all angles: Leica M10, Leica M7, Hasslebald 500cm, Fujifilm XPro and Fujifilm XT4. By the third day of shooting I was only using the Leica M10 with a 50mm lens and only switching to 35mm when I wanted more of the environment in shot.
I knew nothing of the Fellowship or its members other than what I read on their website but quickly realised that they might have undersold themselves. Many of the older members have an impressive list of film and TV credits, numerous are published authors, several have had their artwork exhibited, and a few of them regular travel the world as guest speakers at events to talk about 400 years of Punch & Judy tradition.
The one thing that I learnt was that there was no such thing as typical. These are very different people, male and female, from the age of 10 to 84, from very different social backgrounds, but they all had one thing in common – a passion for Punch & Judy.
The collection of works is now available as a book from the Punch & Judy Fellowship and since finishing the project I have secured a spread in the Sunday Telegraph, interviews with BBC Kent and segment on BBC South East News.