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Victorious Festival 2022

2022 looked set to be my first attendance at Victorious Festival as a member of the Press, with a Photo Pass and essentially, flying completely solo. My pass was arranged by The News, Portsmouth and I was working for them as a freelance photographer over the Friday and Saturday. During my training, I was taken to Victorious Festival 2021 on the Friday, however it came just as my partner was about to give birth to my son, so it was agreed I would only attend for part of the day and without a Photo Pass. Long story short, this was my first chance to stand next to the stage and flex my creative muscles,

Sterephonics front man Kelly Jones

Parking is tricky in Portsmouth at the best of times at the weekend, however the arrival of Victorious Festival takes the traffic to a whole other level. Note to self for the future, leave triple the amount of time you think you will need! Once on site, a quick trip to the Press accreditation booth with the right ID and voila...I am in possession of a Press Pass and the all important Pit Access pass. For those that don't know, the space between the front of the crowd and the stage is know as the pit, typically filled with security. However for the first three songs of each act, photographers can access this area to obtain unobstructed shots of the artists performing. I set up camp in the Press tent, conveniently located in the VIP area so the bathroom facilities are bearable and the crowds are significantly reduced. Here we find private Wifi, Power, drinks and access to the performers area...which in turn leads to the Pit.

Age is just a number

Its was agreed that I would take the main stage and my colleague, Paul Windsor would tackle the Castle Stage. Logistically, its simply not possible to move between one and the other, whilst shooting, editing and submitting images. The opening performance by Primal Scream was in fact tackled by Paul, as I had some assignments to complete for the newspaper, including some video work and attendee images. I caught some of it from the crowd which was heaving for the opening act on a Friday.

Crowds enjoying the show

My first venture into the Pit was to cover Soak and it was an incredible experience and invaluable learning event. You are escorted to the Pit via the Performers area, presumably so we don't fan boy out at the fact the likes of The Wombats and Paolo Nutini are sat having coffee and some chicken goujons. Who knew these people were human!? I wasn't familiar with Soak but enjoyed the performance regardless, although my attention was squarely on bagging great images for use by The News, Portsmouth. Once the shots were in the bag, it was back to the Press tent to edit and submit to the paper. Here, I learnt that the Wifi was far from stable which would go on to cause some significant stress throughout the day.

Soak performing on the main stage

The remainder of Friday was a case of rinsing and repeating this process of obtaining images, editing and submitting through the day. There was some genuine anticipation for the climax which was Sterephonics headlining. From my point of view, Sterephonics were due to take to the stage at 9.25pm and I had a submission deadline of 10.00pm. The reality of this 35 minute turnaround time created some anxiety, not just for me, but for the night team at the office. The images I would send would be used for the Front Page and if 10.00pm rolled around without a submission, we would miss the print deadline. So as they took to the stage, mercifully on time, I fired off over 200 shots throughout their opening song before hotfooting it back to the Press tent. I buried my head into Lightroom and with around 15 minutes left, I was ready to send 12 images worthy of the Front Page. I had everything crossed that the wifi would hold out for the images to send. Fortunately, they sent and come the morning, my image was on the front page of the paper.

My image on the front page of The News, Portsmouth

Saturday was very much the same, save for the huge increase in traffic which made me late for the opening with Sugababes. I missed my Pit deadline so had to get the shot from the crowd which was interesting. 600mm lens through thousands of people made me stand out like a sore thumb, but I got the shot.

Sugababes performing on the Main Stage

The day played out very much the same as Friday, until we entered the evening sets, which included The Wombats, followed by Paolo Nutini. As a Wombats fan, I was keen to see them but as the lights came down and they took to the stage, a problem made itself very clear for me and the other photographers. No Lights...literally. Im not sure who designed their light show, but the artists were literally in the dark for nearly the full three songs we were allowed to be there. It was ludicrous. As a result, the images suffered and there were only a few usable images.

The Wombats performing on the main stage

The climax of my two days at Victorious Festival was Paolo Nutini, on the main stage. I was quite excited by this. Im not a fan exactly, but there are a few fun songs from his back catalogue and we fully expected him to come out with a bang. Instead, we were greeted with a strange, dull, 'arty', almost monologue type introduction. It was very low key and a significant anticlimax to the crowds anticipation. For the three subsequent songs before we had to leave the Pit, an odd, trippy, almost drunk performance took place which nobody seemed to expect or understand. He looked quite vacant and drank continuously on stage. Had I have booked him to play at this event, I would not have been pleased!

Paolo Nutini performing on the Main Stage

Looking at the event with the benefit of hindsight, im pleased with my output. It was an incredibly busy couple of days and provided some interesting problems which had to be resolved. An incredible and invaluable amount of experience was gained and most importantly, I was paid to be here. So many people would no doubt offer to do this for free...either for the experience, or exposure or any number of reasons, but i'm happy that my time and ability is respected. This is still not always the case, but as my reputation increases, so is the willingness to pay a fair rate for my time.

You can find an extensive gallery of my time at Victorious Festival Below...

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