Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jenn's Guide to Surviving the Chelsea Flower Show

After my 3rd visit to the Chelsea Flower Show, I've figured out how to manage when over 5 days a total of 157,000 people are expected. (Photo compliments of the Royal Horticultural Society Website as mine are not ready yet. Cancer Garden)

  • Order tickets in advance as this is a world class event and usually sold out.
  • Consider becoming an RHS member as you gain access to members only show for the first 2 days (better deal for in country residents)
  • Pick up the tickets on the day of the show 1 hour to 30 minutes before opening time to avoid queues for sure. Or order early enough to have the tickets shipped to you.
  • A sleek profile is very important. Lose the big bag. Keep the one you do carry flat to your body. Put lenses in this bag.
  • Going early in the day (8am) helped speed access to the scene and thus the shooting. By noon the crowds were insurpassable as in 15 people deep. People are everywhere, standing and sitting in the garden designs. Btw, all the newscasting agencies came in the morning
  • For "all-in" photos the 20mm shows the garden design as intended well. However, composition is much easier with the 50 mm. Forget the big guns.
  • Sunlight is at best uneven in England so be ready to wait at a spot until it should re-appear to light the scene.
  • Plan a breakfast booster and lunch.
  • Under no circumstances plan to need to go to the bathroom if you are a woman as this will take 45 mins in a queue of 100 women. If you must, the bathroom trailers near Garden Gate are the least overrun. Men, as usual, will face no constraints.
  • Photograph in the exhibition pavilion from 11 to 2 when the sun is/can be brightest overhead and is filtered by the pavilion cream translucent roof.
  • By 2pm the avenues were impassable and at 3pm even more people arrive as the reduced price ticket holders are let in so plan to leave.
  • Consider photographing the small gardens first as they are hardest to access with crowds but also consider that they are positioned in the shade so you made need a sunny day to shoot them first thing in the morning.
  • Take a cab to the event to save your feet
  • Walk out because there's no hope of traffic moving

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