Belfast Telegraph

Camera looks beyond bonfire controversy

By Rachel Martin

An award-winning Northern Ireland photographer hopes his behind-the-scenes pictures of bonfire builders will humanise them internationally.

Armed with just his camera and a battery-operated light, Charles McQuillan set about taking the images at bonfire sites across the region.

At first he thought the hard part would be convincing his editor to commission the series.

"Then I realised, s***, I'm actually going to have to go and take these now," he joked.

He added: "I wanted them to be neutral, so that the viewer can make up their own minds about what they feel.

"One of things some of them said was that they didn't like the way the media portrayed them.

"A lot of them were very media savvy; they were aware that certain kinds of pictures can make them look a certain way.

"But the neutrality of these images was very important to me. I am simply recording history as I go along as a photojournalist."

The images include pictures taken at bonfires in Ballymena, Larne, Ballycraigy, Antrim, Lisburn, Ballyduff, Sandy Row, Roden Street and Shankill Road across four days.

Charles said he noticed the builders took a lot of pride in their work, as he travelled around the different sites.

"A lot of pictures used at this time of year just show people climbing up the bonfires, but I wanted to do something different; to show them as people and to humanise the builders," he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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