The Fire School

A long while back I attended a talk with Benjamin von Wong whom, during this talk suggested photographing a mix of what you like. His suggestion was babies and explosions. I got to photograph one of them when I attended the Fire School in East Ham. Not an exploding baby as some of you would have expected of me but more like the combustible type. Balls of fire.

I total get where the von Wong is coming from when he said he liked photographing fire because now I too am hooked. Arriving at the fire school I met up with Red Sarah, the headmistress. I had previously met and photographed her performances at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern at Cabaret Roulette and was invited down to take shots of her students.

The Fire School is located in a warehouse with seating at one end and the large stage area in front. I positioned myself at the back seating so I was looking down from behind the audience. Using my 24-104 f4 this gave me clear view of the area with enough zoom to get in close to the performers where needed. As this was my first time here I also brought along the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 strapped to my Canon 550d. Using that lens meant I was very close at 70mm and practically up the performers nose at 200mm. For the majority I stuck with the 24-105.

My experience shooting cabaret and burlesque paid off here as I immediately went back to way of keeping both eyes open, one through the viewfinder the other on the movement's of the performer. This way I could look out at the periphery and watch and anticipate when action shots would occur.

The evening was to showcase the creative work of the Fire School, some of them for the very first time, and some from the professional group. A great mix of fire, dance, burlesque, comedy and special effects.

I enjoyed this event immensely, not only to shoot live performers but to also watch massive fireballs exploding in front of you too! Really glad I caught a number of them.

I now officially state I like photographing fire! Thanks to Red Sarah for inviting me down and please check out The Fire School at