In the custard pie firing line

June 3, 2009

When I imagined myself as a photographer for an international news agency, I imagined the battle field situations I would find myself would be in distant and dusty locations, full of grizzled commandos avoiding sniper fire and shelling. Instead I found myself in the middle of a green park in leafy Sussex with 251 six to eleven year olds ready to unleash their few years of anger upon each other; and the weapon of choice was custard pies. Their cause, was to claim the Guinness World Records title for the largest custard pie fight ever.

It was tempting to stand on the sidelines and shoot with a long lens behind the barrier alongside the heckling parents. But with the immortalised words of war photographer Robert Capa burning in my head “”If your picture isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” I knew what I had to do. I needed to be where the action was happening, on the frontline amongst the battle hungry children and the ammunition of waiting custard pies.

With two black bags and a length of duct tape I prepared my camera for action. Wrapping the plastic to create a protective sheath with only the filter of the lens and the flash head showing, and just enough space for my hands to control the trigger.

The countdown had begun, the demarked area was swarming with children. The starter shouted ‘Go’ and a stream of custard and flan bases rained down to the sound of shrieking children. No less than 10 seconds and my camera had taken a direct hit. Everything faded to darkness, I couldn’t see anything through the dense custard layer. With the aid of some nappy rash baby bottom wipes (supplied by the sponsor to aid the clean-up operation) I managed to wipe clean my camera and continue shooting.

It didn’t take long for some of the braver pie fighters to decide that an adult and member of the media looked a far greater trophy. ‘Splat’ I took a pie in the side of the head. I could feel the custard already congealing inside my inner ear. As the rest of the patisserie made its way down the back of my neck. From then on I was target numero uno and sustained hits to most part of my body.

Suddenly a cheer went up. “We’ve done it”. Battle had been sustained continuously for one whole minute and victory over the World Record holders was imminent. Skirmishes continued as parents tried to drag away vanilla and banana flavoured children to be cleaned.

I limped away (I had custard in some unimaginable places) to file, feeling somewhat like a giant crème brulee as the custard firmed to a crust in the sun.

Photos of Luke MacGregor taken by Terry Applin of The Argus in Brighton.


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Looks like great fun. Lets hope the battlefields aren’t so much in the firing lines.

Posted by Clive | Report as abusive

[…] was re-inspired to make sure I’m a part of the action while shooting while I read a Reuters Blog Post this morning about a Custard Pie throwing contest…  Check out the article and use the visual […]

Posted by What’s It Gonna Take? | FotoworksBLOG | Report as abusive

I live in a country that has its share of poverty, and although each one has freedom to do with his/her life and resources what he/she deems best, I couldn’t help but feel sad about such a shameful waste of food.

Sorry… just had to say it.

Posted by Santiago | Report as abusive

Really great photographs. Thanks for that , however the photograph with the kid shown throwing pie custard shows how insensitive people with real guns and bullets . These pictures portrays the same activities of human beings in open battle fields but figuratively.

Posted by Motiur | Report as abusive

For photographic point of view,this picture is enjoyable.
But as a responsible person,wastage of food can not be accepted.
Many people are suffering for want of food.
After seeing this photos,we will be much more cautious of food shortages.

Posted by krishnamurthi ramachandran | Report as abusive

This looks fun but it is sheer wastage of food.
God help the hungry.

Posted by Avinash | Report as abusive

This is a perfect series of picturres, and I say there is lots of action in them.
Agree to that ”If your picture isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

Posted by Joe Zach | Report as abusive

Hello Luke,

This looks like grest fun! and I definetely agree with what you say about Capa, a great quote that.If i was in war, whether that be custard pies or not, id be off in the opposite direction! We met on Friday at the southbank, I wondered if you send me a quick email when you get this:

Posted by Rachel Cherry | Report as abusive