EPUK Editorial Photographers United Kingdom and Ireland. The private mailing list and public resource for editorial photographers

Jack in the Green, by Chris Parker

1 May 2022

The Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green Festival is an annual folklore celebration that takes place in the historic seaside town, and the May Bank holiday is probably the busiest weekend in the local calendar. The festival is a four-day event that attracts thousands of people to witness the ritual slaying of winter and the welcome release of summer into the world, a tradition which started in the 17th century, from an earlier custom that involved decorating milkmaids with flowers. The earliest reference to a Jack in the Green is from a 1770 account of a London May Day procession, and the tradition became associated with Chimney Sweeps in the 19th century, before dwindling in importance in the early 20th century. Revived in 1983 and getting bigger every year, it has been variously described as “folksy”, “neo-pagan” and “slightly goth”. It offers music, Morris dancers, drummers, sweeps, giants and fire eaters, culminating in a wild, costumed procession where Jack is slain to release the spirit of summer.

Having photographed the Jack in the Green celebrations since way back, I decided to adopt a different approach for what was very much a personal project, and set up atemporary studio for the 2012 & 2013 processions to highlight the amazing folklore costumed characters in a fun yet contemporary style. Technically, I used a state of the art Nikon D800, some very old monolights, a large soft box and a paper backdrop. Two assistants were despatched to select people before the start of the grand procession leaving me with approximately five minutes with each subject, and after an extremely intense 30-minute shoot it was all over.

From these sessions, selections were later chosen for displays in The Jerwood Gallery (now Hastings Contemporary) in 2015 and also to accompany a John Piper exhibition in 2016. A collaboration with The Lucy Bell Gallery bought about a Pagan calendar in 2014 and an exhibition was held in the Crown Inn, Hastings Old Town. Since then, Alamy have looked after the odd sale or three.

Chris Parker is an award-winning freelance photographer and travel writer based in Hastings.

To see a gallery of more Jack in the Green portraits, go to Chris Parker's Behance portfolio HERE

See more work by Chris Parker

EPUK is discussing:

Copyright infringements abroad and how to manage themCOVID-19 and photographyEPUK Members Lockdown ShowcasePhotographing in public places - where/when/is it allowed?

What is EPUK?

EPUK is an email group for professional editorial photographers who want to talk business. We don’t do techie stuff or in-crowd gossip. We don’t talk cameras or computers. What we talk about are the nuts and bolts of being in business - like copyright, licensing, fees and insurance.

Donate to EPUK

EPUK is run on a not-for-profit basis, funded solely by advertising, donations and hosting other lists. You can make a donation to EPUK through Paypal here:

Donate Now with PayPal

Site content is © original authors. To reproduce any content on this website, contact editor@epuk.org who will put you in touch with the copyright holder. You can read our privacy policy. Any advice given on this site is not intended to replace professional advice, and EPUK and its authors accept no liability for loss or damage arising from any errors or omissions. EPUK is not responsible for third party content, such as epuk.org adverts, other websites linked to from epuk.org, or comments added to articles by visitors.