Friday, 28 August 2009

No Sleep

Saturday night, and my first job for new clients Slutty Fringe: to this end I found myself heading down to Village Underground to cover a Vice event with live bands. I started the night not really looking forward to it; I wasn't in the mood for a warehouse filled with a thousand scenesters, and, having been told Torn Apart By Horses were a good live act (not knowing any of the bands playing) I was a bit annoyed to find I'd missed them, and nearly left. However, a job's a job. First up was a mariachi band, Mariachi El Bronx.

They were nice, and all seemed to be really enjoying what they were playing a lot, although it seemed a little out of place. Next up were Crystal Fighters, who opened with technical difficulties leading to some interesting latin-ish vocal dance music.

Then, the main event. The mariachis reappeared, dressed all of a sudden as a hardcore band, and the crowd went slightly crazy; the organisers clearly missed a trick, because the lone security guard in front of the barrier was instantly overwhelmed and the barrier went down, most of the snappers got squashed, and people flooded the stage. Luckily I'm quite big and have hard elbows.

This band is called The Bronx, and if you like wild, loud, sweaty music of any sort, I suggest you go see them.

I went home with my ears ringing and my blood racing. It was a good night. The next morning I had to be up early to take pictures of a video shoot for a reggae singer called Nereus.

Then in the evening I was off to my second Slutty Fringe job, Boom Boom Club at the Bath House. Cabaret and burlesque; it's been done before, plenty of times, to the extent that I can see in the not-too-distant future it becoming less mainstream again, just through oversaturation; then we'll see who keeps doing it, who keeps going. This lot put on a fairly good show, although they managed to break their only stage light towards the end of the night.

Then home to bed. Monday was relatively quiet; editing the pictures from the weekend, meetings, and then a portrait for this week's le cool interview, James from Urban Nerds.

He was a nice guy, and I got an offer of possible work - shooting the DMC finals at the O2 in a couple of weeks. Very exciting.

Tuesday - flowers shoot with my friend Natalie.

Wednesday, a shoot with my friend Tamara, primarily to try to expand my beauty portfolio a little, and perhaps develop a style I find myself comfortable with. I'm not a big fan of shooting in the low key style that seems to be getting prevalent; although I appreciate that people like Terry Richardson, who is a real photographic hero of mine, can shoot like that well, I am more interested in using light to tell stories.

There was, of course, time to take a flower shot of her in the grounds of her flat.

Also on Wednesday, a photoshoot for a campaign being organised by Miriam Elia to free Hengameh Shahidi; the pictures were to be used for press and as part of this Amnesty International campaign. Here is Miriam with Jessica Hynes, both of whom will be performing at a benefit gig later this year.

Thursday started with assisting my mentor Takashi Kamei on a fashion video shoot for Glass magazine. Afterwards, I was supposedly going to do a beauty shoot, and a band shoot, and hoped to squeeze in time to do a flowers shoot with a friend of a friend. As it turned out, they mostly got cancelled at the last moment, but for the flowers shoot. It came out nice though.

I'm not entirely sure what the purpose is of this series; I started it thinking it would be a good way to develop my skills at shooting set-up shots, but the mood that I have managed to pick up from these shots goes beyond that, and now it seems like the collection of shots as a whole is developing a certain overall quality that I can't quite put my finger on, but I think I like it. Once I've got maybe 10 or 15 pictures I'm pleased with, I'll go through them all and process them in a certain way; for now the shots are strictly works-in-progress.

Friday started with a trip West again, to South Kensington and Hyde Park, for a shoot with Syban V. Manticore from Lucha, to both work on my portfolio and get some nice pictures she could use for her website. Syban's act revolves around piercing, mad costumes and ballet, so I kept an open mind as to what we might do. Here's Syban.

Approach with caution.

We had planned to do some shots in the ponds in Hyde Park, but just as we were setting up for them the heavens opened and we ducked for cover and then called it a day. On the way home I swung by Tamara's birthday party, where Park Lane Girls were playing.

I need more sleep in my life.

Friday, 21 August 2009


The week begins on a Saturday sometimes. It was time for Club Cool vs Ligers & Dreams at Resistance Gallery; Guns 2 Roses were headlining, apparently the world's best Guns'N'Roses tribute band, or so some folks said.

The club is part of a growing scene coming out of Hackney Wick, combining dubstep and punk and the sort of cheaply-home-made-yet-highly-fashionable ethos of that part of town. It usually gets very busy and more than a bit messy. The first bands on were Molloy and then Tictac.

Then The Coolness came on. It's their club night. Their frontman, Chaz, is a nice enough fellow, and seems to have found a golden touch when it comes to promoting his events.

Clubs like this, they have started to feel like work, but not in a bad way. Rather, I go there looking for pictures. Still, it's nice to get to know the people who put on these nights, they tend to be quite dynamic people. Also, because Resistance is run by the Lucha Britannia manager, a lot of the Lucha crowd show up; it feels like our club. Here's Garry, head of Lucha (on the right) talking to Keith, and underneath my good friend Tammy, one of the Medical Bitches.

Guns 2 Roses had all sorts of technical problems. I have no idea why but it seems like the bigger bands, more used to touring, are far more likely to have technical trouble than bands which only play once a month. Regardless of the quality of the band, it was great to hear the tunes played live in a small club.

Obviously the crowd enjoyed it.

Afterwards there was a secret set by Yo Majesty, by which time the club had emptied a bit, but it was nonetheless rowdy in the extreme thanks to Mike and Jan from Dead Kids going balistic at the front of the audience.

Afterwards everyone was all smiles; they headed off to the afterparty, I went home to bed. I must be getting old.

Monday was a busy day; first of all my first cut-out shoot for a new client: Tesco. While cut-out photography is hardly as instantly exciting as shooting performance, as artistic as shooting fashion or as likely to get you meeting interesting people as portraiture, there is a sort-of striving for perfection that is satisfying in itself. Every time I find a new sort of photography to do, I become consumed with the learning process; whether it's shooting in a new venue, or just a completely new form, I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to do it best, even if that means squinting at packets of cosmetics in my bathroom at two in the morning. Monday also had another first: a test shoot for a girl I saw at Dice Club, who I hope to be able to find a modelling agency. I was pretty happy with the results, and got to work with some good new stylists.

Tuesday I got an email from one of our writers at lecool, asking if I'd like to shoot for one of the other sites he works for, Slutty Fringe. I said yes; although there was no offer of money, he's usually involved with interesting projects, and interesting projects, as well as having a certain value of their own, also tend to lead to other things to do, as well as raising your profile. As it happened, he immediately put me in touch with the people at Cargo, one of the larger, older Shoreditch venues. They asked if I could come along the next day to take some shots of some bands they had playing, offering money, free entry for me and my friends, and any drinks I wanted. I asked for soft drinks, he gave me beer and whiskey vouchers, which I handed out to people in return for taking their picture. Mostly though I was there for the band; I'd been asked to get shots for use in Mixmag. I think I did alright.

My final photos of the week come from tonight, which started with a trip to my old housemate's new studio on Hackney Road. He's a video artist called Mo Stoebe and one of the nicest people I've lived with. We played table tennis.

Then it was time to go back to the Gallery for Salon of Kinbaku, and Jon Blake's birthday party. People sometimes ask me if I'm involved in the scenes I shoot much. While it's true that I have friends who are heavily involved in several specialised scenes, I approach them in much the same way I approach the wrestling I shoot - the strong sense aesthetic makes for a great subject to shoot, the people who become obsessed with it are interesting, but I'd never want to get in the ring, if you can pardon a slightly crude pun.

All in all, a fairly busy week. Working a lot is best if the work is varied. The next week could also be busy; Cargo have asked me to go and shoot some more things for them, and Slutty Fringe want me to cover four events over the next two weeks, starting tomorrow. I also need to find an interview for this weeks lecool, do a couple of flower shots and maybe a beauty shoot also, as well as a ton of administration to get through. We shall see.