Tom Burke

Talent in Focus: Backstage Portrait Studio at the Edinburgh TV Festival

An Electric Backstage Atmosphere

Being the Backstage Portrait Photographer at the Edinburgh TV Festival was an experience that left an indelible mark on my career for 2023. Over the course of four exhilarating days in August, I had the privilege of photographing an array of talent and delegates, each with their own unique stories to tell.

A Glimpse into their Worlds

Among the luminaries who graced my lens were Louis Theroux, Claudia Winkleman, Jesse Armstrong, Indiyah Polack, Ben Winston, Tom Burke, Joanna Vanderham, Dougray Scott, Jamie Laing, Siobhan McSweeney, Nick Grimshaw, and Rosie Jones. Each brought their own essence into the studio, and as the Portrait Photographer at the Edinburgh TV Festival I had the privilege of capturing their spirit and personalities with just the help of an old leather sofa and a few minutes of their undivided attention.

Portraits of Depth and Contemplation

Louis Theroux, known for his insightful documentaries, exuded a warmth and humility that was immediately evident. He settled into the sofa with an easy grace, and I captured a moment of quiet contemplation, a brief respite from the whirlwind of the festival.

Elegance meets Charisma: Claudia Winkleman

Claudia Winkleman’s effervescent personality filled the space as soon as she stepped through the curtain. Her infectious energy radiated through the lens as she engaged with the camera. The contrast between her vivacious gloss and the rugged old sofa created a lovely visual narrative.

Jesse Armstrong: The Creative Intensity

Jesse Armstrong, the creative genius behind some of television’s most acclaimed series, brought a certain intensity to the shoot. His piercing gaze and thoughtful expressions were a testament to the depth of his storytelling. The juxtaposition of his focused presence against the worn leather backdrop was a study in contrasts.

Indiyah Polack: Youthful Exuberance Unleashed

Indiyah Polack, a rising star in the industry, approached the shoot with a refreshing sense of curiosity. Her youthful exuberance breathed life into the portraits, and I couldn’t help but be inspired by her infectious passion for storytelling. The sofa, now transformed into a canvas, seemed to absorb and reflect her vibrant spirit.

Ben Winston: A Quiet Command

Ben Winston, a name synonymous with groundbreaking television, exuded a quiet confidence that commanded attention. His composed demeanor was a stark contrast to the chaos of the festival, and I was struck by the sense of purpose that emanated from him. The worn leather seemed to echo the stories etched in his own journey.

Tom Burke: Striking Presence

Tom Burke, with his commanding presence and a gaze that held a thousand stories, was a study in depth and contemplation. The worn leather seemed to echo the journey etched in his expressions, creating a powerful visual dialogue.

Joanna Vanderham & Dougray Scott; Elegance and Versatility in Tandem

Joanna Vanderham and Dougray Scott, a dynamic pair, came striding into the studio with their magnetic presence. Joanna’s captivating blend of elegance and grace complemented Dougray’s seasoned versatility. Their combined energy fed off each other, and the portraits captured a dynamic and fun connection. Gordon Smart joined them on the sofa which took the atmosphere up another notch.

Jamie Laing in front of the Portrait photographer at the Edinburgh TV Festival

Jamie Laing, known for his infectious energy and vibrant personality, brought an element of spontaneity to the shoot. His laughter filled the room, and the portraits captured the essence of his playful spirit. The sofa, with its history etched in its surface, provided a striking contrast to Jamie’s exuberance.

Siobhan McSweeney: Quiet Strength

Siobhan McSweeney, known for her powerful performances, exuded a quiet strength that commanded attention. Her presence was a study in poise and authenticity, and the photographs captured the depth of her character. The worn leather seemed to mirror the resilience that defined her career.

Nick Grimshaw: Effortless Cool

Nick Grimshaw, a stalwart in the entertainment industry, brought a huge sense of fun and laughter into the studio. The noise and energy that he leaves in his wake made it feel like a mini Glasto had just passed through.

Rosie Jones: Unbridled Wit and Resilience

Rosie Jones, a force of nature known for her razor-sharp wit and incorporating her cerebral palsy into her comedic style, approached the shoot with a contagious enthusiasm. Her infectious laughter filled the space, and the photographs captured the vivacity that defines her presence. The old leather sofa, though unassuming, became a canvas for Rosie’s boundless energy as she spread out horizontally.

Unsung Heroes: Delegates with Stories to Tell

Beyond the celebrated talent and household names, I had the honour of photographing numerous delegates at the festival; some you’ll recognise and many you won’t. Their stories and talents, though not as widely known, were equally fascinating. Writers, actors, management, editors, journalists, presenters, crew and even students all passed in front of my lens. In the brief moments we shared, I strived to capture the essence of their personalities, and the diversity of experiences enriched the tapestry of portraits.

Capturing the Essence in Fleeting Moments

Unlimited time with each person was a luxury I couldn’t afford. Engaging the personality and getting below the surface with only a few minutes to play with, was a thrilling challenge. It was so revealing to witness how differently everyone approached the task of being photographed. Some embraced the process with an open heart. Others brought a sense of vulnerability that translated beautifully in the viewfinder.

A Testament to the Power of Visual Storytelling

As the last frame was captured on that fourth day, I looked back at the collection of portraits I had amassed. Each one individually telling it’s own story but collectively a wonderful testament to the strength of visual storytelling. They conveyed all the creative power and positive energy that is released and shared when a large group of incredibly talented people come together under one roof.

The Edinburgh TV Festival had provided the canvas, the people had brought it to life with their stories. This experience for me was much more than just another job. It was an adventure, a journey through the complex tapestry of human experience, and one that I will draw on and relish for years to come.

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