I was surprised by this photograph, a fast shutter speed freezes something we never see, the delicate balance, the fine judgement of the man on the Flying Trapeze.

It’s a life and death act we take for granted, but here he is frozen almost in hesitation. His left hand delicately poised. Is the bar where it should be to make it safely back?

The catcher’s face seems to be sharing the same thought. If he’s got it wrong we’ll all know in the next split second.

But they hardly ever get it wrong, they are so practiced they make it look easy, so we take it all for granted.

But just now, in this second, his life hangs in all its fragility in mid air and darkness.


The Rolling Daltons

This is Melany a contortionist and one of the famous Rolling Daltons. A stunningly attractive girl as are her dad and younger brother. She spent a long time in the corridor stretching and preparing for her performance.

You’d expect as much from a contortionist, but then all the acts spent a long time in preparation; in fact they spent more time getting ready to go into the circus ring than they did in their performance.

She seemed sultry and I felt nervous about asking her for a portrait shot. But she’s a professional, I got the shot I wanted and she kept her sultry look, only this time it was directed straight at me.


Dancer in the dark

When I first started to photograph back stage at the Hippodrome I ran into an immediate and obvious problem.

People smiled – a lot.

Not just a vague recognition smile, but the great big blast of a pleased to see you smile.

They are performers; this is what they do. They could have just broken a leg and you would still get the same reaction.

I asked them to ignore me, but they couldn’t help themselves if they saw me looking in their direction.

Eventually after trying to desperately merge with the furniture I began to get shots that either caught them off guard or where they simply remained themselves.



Femme Fatale

The problem with photographing anything back stage at the Hippodrome is the dancers.

Sometimes I’m struggling to find a subject, a composition, anything that captures the imagination. And then the dancers arrive in the corridor, and I no longer have a problem.

They always look fabulous, the costumes stunning. Even when they are lounging around waiting to go into the arena they manage to fall into elegant forms on the settees or chairs or simply as they stand talking to other dancers.

The men are different, when they relax something in the brain switches off and they slump. Is it the age-old artfulness of women? A predatory awareness of their power?

Whatever it is, for me, it’s fatal.


And Frankenstein looked on

‘Frankenstein’ was a high wire act, he had finished his performance and was staring at the dancer in front of him.

Sometimes the performers seem lost in their own world after they have left the noise and applause of the arena.

But this juxtaposition of Beauty and the Beast and the very lovely pastels artwork of Bruer Tidman behind them was just too good to miss.

The Hippodrome is laden with props, artwork, photographs and paraphernalia.

A photographer’s dream.