Fort Blockhouse Officers Mess

Recently when working for a new client I was quite privileged to photograph two Regimental Sergeant Major ‘Dine Outs’ in a row.  To the uninformed these are basically retirement parties for individuals who have spent a very large portion of their life serving in the army, the first was 23 years of service and the most recent was retiring after 25 years!

Amongst the formalities of the evening there were several speeches which I was there to photograph.  Halfway through shooting it dawned on me that I was the only person with a camera / photographing.  The closest thing I can compare it to would be the speeches after a wedding breakfast, in this scenario there would be several other people in the room either filming a video on their phone or taking pictures using a personal digital camera, but in this room I was the only one.  This level of exclusivity was quite humbling and the weight of responsibility came with it.

The lighting conditions were by far the most difficult I’ve ever had to shoot in with candles on the tables kicking out warm light and the fluorescent tubes lighting the paintings of famous sea battles on the walls pushing out cold light.

Asides from these aspects I also considered the importance of being able to photograph in this place.  A non-place which has been stood here for over 100 years and so rarely gets seen by all but an exclusive group of people.  Not like ‘joe public’ can wander in to have a look around.  In the same way that I have photographed in prison cells, or other rarely seen worlds, it is photography’s responsibility to document even the most mundane of things.


Published by andrewphayward

Photographer and Photography teacher from the south of England. Pursuer of the arts of Deadpan and Documentary Photography with a particular interest in the anthropology of non-place. ***All my views are my own and don't reflect those of the institution I work for***

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