The Durham Miner’s Gala is one of my favourite days of the year. I have been attending most of them for around 13 years. I love the brass band music, the colourful banners and the history of the event. This year I decided to take a camera and try to capture some of the atmosphere. Here are my favourite personal pictures from the day.
This was one of the only photos I took that I feel captures what I was trying to achieve. I think it demonstrates the spirit of the Gala. Many people attend to enjoy a drink. I like the juxtaposition of the quiet corner and the busy crowd in the background.
This was one of the oldest banners I saw. Even though Tursdale is a tiny hamlet it still warrants it’s own banner. Many of the banner themes focus on nationalisation or key political figures. I like that this one focuses on some of the gritty realities of mine working.
Once the bands have played to the politicians and marched to the show ground they often relax for a while. If you look closely you can see the Socialist paper laid on the central tuba. As I walked away after taking this photo a photographer with a better camera than mine got right up close to the instruments to take a photograph. I tried to resist the temptation to edit my photos to make them look “better”. When I undertake my visual research I don’t want my participants to feel the pressure to produce “acceptable” images.
I couldn’t decide which one I liked better out of these two photos. When the bands arrive at the showground the banners are placed on ‘display’ around the field. In the first you can see a banner in it’s protective cover in the foreground with a colourful banner behind it. The covers are normally only used in the rain so this indicates it is probably an older banner. The second shows four very colourful banners.
“Take our photograph”
As I walked around the showground with my camera around my neck, the two men in the centre of this photograph said to me “You can’t have a camera and not take our photograph!”. Of course I obliged. I like how even the people around them appear pleased to pose for the photograph. They joked to me that I had left my lens cap on! I was in the same area for a few minutes afterwards and they continued to ask people to take their photograph.
My youngest daughter wanted a balloon at the showground and this is my oldest daughter holding it as we walked home. One of the stories I have been telling people about the Gala is how the balloon made us many “friends” as it blew around in the strong wind at the showground and was often bumping into people.
“In Loving Memory”
One of our annual rituals is to stop at a playground on the way home. Many old gravestones which have been moved or relocated are laid against the wall opposite the playground. Reading the gravestones is quite touching as whole families are wiped out by disease, including extremely young children. The children’s graves we used to see in previous years are now completely overgrown by bushes. This is one the larger ones that is still exposed and sits under a tree against the wall.