Saga Magazine Christmas Caving

Duncan S

New member
Yes - caving has been featured in the December issue of Saga Magazine !  :-[
It is part of bigger story about unconventional Christmas day activities and stars cave diver Duncan Price along with a double page photograph by me (Duncan Simey).

Duncan Price contacted me asking if I would be prepared to shoot a Christmas themed caving shot for Saga magazine as Saga's regular photographers weren't prepared to go underground. Of course I would!
Saga's art director spoke with me to describe what they were after. The photo had to scream 'Christmas' and be good enough quality to potentially use as a double page spread. I also had to shoot some in Portrait format in case it only got used on a single page. Magazines like plenty of space for adding titles and captions, so composition needs a little extra thought.
And the other news was that although Duncan wasn't getting paid for being featured, I would! The plan was to donate money from the shoot to cave rescue, and that is what is happening to my fee.

Talking with Duncan, we decided to keep the caving simple and head into the Old Grotto in Swildons as an evening trip. Minimum time underground, maximum time in the Hunter's Lodge.
We needed helpers. Interestingly, many people didn't want to appear in Saga! At one point it looked like it might be just the two of us which would have left Duncan looking like Billy-no-mates in the photo. A plea on Facebook quickly gathered a group for what promised to be an amusing evening's caving.

I brought a table cloth, gingerbread, candles and mugs. Duncan brought some brandy and a load of Christmas hats. The real star was Jonathan who not only brought battery powered fairy lights, but a Santa Suit including a bushy white beard!
As you can imagine, this trip wasn't taken seriously and was great fun!
Setting up the lighting was fairly straightforward with LED video lights and a couple of builders floodlights. The time consuming part was getting the details right and needed lots of shot review and retakes!
Anyway.... Here's the shot as laid out in Saga magazine (colour and contrast look better in real life - sorry).

Many thanks to Duncan Price, John Cooper, Nick Butler (Christmas Tree), Jude Vanderplank, Andy Chamberlain and Jonathan Da'Casto (Father Christmas).
The photo was a team effort and the double page spread in Saga looks wonderful!


Well-known member
Given the typical age of UK cavers, SAGA magazine is probably highly appropriate for a caving article !

Great picture, by the way!


Well-known member
Love it. Christmas backup lights....could catch on! Congratulations on the shot Duncan :)

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