Amplified Festival 2018 is the biggest event I’ve photographed to date. I entered a photography competition back in May after Naomi Jeremiah of Down The Front Media tagged me and my dad in the post. I entered my best photo to date, one from the Steel Panther gig where all the girls were on stage surrounding Michael Starr. The people in charge pf Amplified, Will Tudor and the rest of the gang, were going to choose two young photographers between the ages of 14 and 17 to be official photographers at the event, working alongside the awesome media crew.

I waited for an answer, when finally, one came on July 3rd, 2018. I had won a spot at the festival, with an amazing young photographer called Sian Irvine. I was nervous about going to the festival though as I suffer from social anxiety, however, when I got there, everyone was so kind! We were made to feel like part of the family, everyone joked with each other, asked for advice, and made sure they helped as much as possible. Even when some kids from the village stole some stuff from the festival during the night, nobody’s spirits were dampened.

A highlight for me was photographing on stage for Evil Scarecrow! Me and Sian had been doing challenges all day, and one of them was to photograph Fahran using a 50mm manual focus lens. After we’d done it, Mark Ellis, our ‘festival dad’ and mentor, got the frontman for Fahran, Matt Black, to judge who took the best photos. Mine came first, meaning I got to photograph on stage for Evil Scarecrow, and Sian got to photograph on stage for Psychostick, who were one of the best bands of the weekend in my opinion.

Amplified Festival was the first time I had ever photographed in front of the barrier, let alone on stage, so I was extremely nervous; especially considering Evil Scarecrow were the headliners so almost everyone would be watching. Anyway, I got on stage and started taking photos. However, it didn’t go as planned as I had my camera settings all wrong as my dad had changed them earlier on in the day, and I didn’t know what he had changed so I couldn’t change it back. I also had no experience in using ISO and it turned out that my dad had put auto-ISO on a high number, but I didn’t know. No matter what I did, all my pictures were coming out too dark and I didn’t know what to do so I began to freak out, and by the end of the night, I was crying my eyes out to my dad, Mark, and Sian. The next day, Will came and spoke to me about it, he told me not to worry and that everything would be fine, and Daniel Stapleton, a pro photographer and editor of photos, showed me how to save my photos, and they actually turned out pretty good! It’s safe to say that the next day, Mark taught me about ISO, so we didn’t have another Evil Scarecrow incident.

The best part of the weekend was when Will took me and Sian to one side and invited us back next year! I was hoping we’d be able to return, I just wasn’t expecting it to actually happen, so I was over the moon. Sian has been invited to be an assistant mentor for the next young photographers and I will be a stage photographer, as I’m quite quiet and don’t speak much, although Amplified definitely helped me through that as I was speaking to everyone by the end of the weekend.

Amplified opened a lot of doors for me, as people have started asking me to photograph for them or asking if they can buy my work, which is a huge achievement for me. I never expected any of this to happen, so I’m over the moon and very excited to return!