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Test Shoot – FREAK

These photographs were taken at a London club night named, FREAK, a night embracing individuality and personality where you can feel free to get your freak on. Dress as crazy as you like, dance as much as you want, and love as much as you want. With the location moved from Queen of Hoxton to the much more appropriate Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, FREAK is now a well-established successful event, celebrating the sounds of world, music, and disco. Since this is no ordinary night I didn’t just want to take any ordinary photos so I used an app that I have had for forever, Retro VHS, to shoot all of the images. I felt that this would really tap into the era that the night transports you to and I love that it glitches out and produces static like on an old TV as well as the time stamp. The time stamp gives a little nod to the Alexander Wang Spring/Summer 2017 ad campaign featuring Zoë Kravitz on a night out, as this is an element that I really felt elevated the campaign giving the campaign fluidity, thus creating amazing transitions. With my work, the time stamp takes you back to 1986 instead of 2017, which makes the transportation element that much more real, in the sense that the audience might be forced to ask themselves if these were actually taken back then, thus giving the shoot great depth. And not to mention they’re fun and celebrate EVERYONE, thus embodying that of diversity!

 

The heart on the stage is something that is present on both floors of Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club and is a staple piece of their decoration as a venue. With this being a gay club, the idea of unity, diversity, and acceptance was already instilled in all the people in attendance at this event which made it that much more fun! A heart symbolises love, celebration and happiness which is exactly what this event embodied and it was just filled with pure joy, making it a bright light in a very f***ed up world. The second shot is one of my favourites. I love how it glitches out across their faces, obscuring the audience’s view slightly, of what they look like. The monochromatic element in a colour image is something that I have always loved and loved to experiment with and I really love the opposite tones present in this shot. I think it really works to grab the attention of the audience.

 

I am in love with the effect this app has had on all of my images and think it works so well for the subject given that it is a disco, funk club night! Another element that comes with the app’s effect is the bleeding into the background and the blast of electric colour that accompanies it, thus making it that much more striking but in such a subtle way. I took this photograph from outside the booth where people were ‘OTD’ (On The Door) and this glass acts as an incredibly interesting layer that distorts the details of the people featured in the shot. This I love as I feel that in today’s society people judge others so easily and that judgement is usually on physical appearance so I thought it would be interesting to experiment with different ways of distorting the subject’s views a little bit, thus bringing great depth and drama to the pieces. The immense bright white light in the second image comes from a silver disco ball that was hung in the centre of the dancefloor. This, for me, symbolises a bright future and optimism and hope – however ironic and unattainable this may seem at this point given everything that’s happening right now that is putting human rights and progress in serious regression.

 

The aesthetic of this night is very pretty, very fun, very funky and this is mirrored in this shoot particularly through the lighting and the grit that comes with the app I used. Mixing funk and grunge is something that embodies this night as it is reminiscent of another time. FREAK is a place where people can let their hair down completely free of judgement, selfies and all! Money. Money is one of the main thing that divides us. Status. The class system is determined by how much money we make. This image, featuring my friend Amiya as the subject, holding up the money box, indicates that we had made a lot of money selling tickets OTD. Being that this is a student run night, it’s great for them as they make money to put towards their rent or their bills or food for the weak, or even to treat themselves and have fun in the process.  But how far will this go for them? University debt is crippling and it’s only increasing. University is a place where people from all works of life, from all around the world can come together and connect to make communities but this is becoming strained with all of the ways the government are limiting our freedom!

 

The floor photographs were great and conveyed the fun vibe and lively, electric energy of the night so well! The combination of dark silhouettes and the bright pink and gold lights work to create an interesting juxtaposition that works to draw the viewer in. Again, here the bleeds on the edge of the main image add that extra element of captivity for the audience. The blurry element of these photographs introduces a hypnotic aesthetic. The metallic silver wings on my sister’s dress in the second shot combined with the mesh top work to showcase individuality within the event and how personality and characteristics and even characters themselves are encouraged, embraced and celebrated. London is packed with diversity and I have never been to a night that is more diverse and I loved it! Being surrounded by so many different people really allowed me to really let go and just be myself. Feeling like you’re in a supportive environment allows the true you to just seep out of your subconscious and into the real world – and that’s when true happiness ensues and I was thrilled to be able to capture it.

The love heart takes centre stage both figuratively and literally in this shot within the framing of the image that hypnotic element it introduces. This action shot captures the fun, lively, enchanting vibe that filled the night, injecting a powerful sense of freaky energy from the get-go! Once again, the juxtaposition between the bright blast of colour shining through the dancing bodies is so incredibly captivating and brings great intensity and depth the image. The second shot showcases the smoking area. Often on nights out, smokers is the place to go for three reasons: 1) to smoke. 2) to have a quieter place to chat to people. 3) to cool off from dancing too much. For me it was all of the aforementioned reasons. The calm, chill energy that surrounds this shot is very infectious and translates directly to the viewer, as it relaxes me when I look at it. An element of mischievousness and cheekiness is also present, introduced by my friend Finn in the forefront of the image (although the print out made the image much darker so it is unfortunately not visible. This image is much brighter digitally and can be seen with much better clarity on my blog). This shoot was solely made up of candid photographs and I think that’s the best way to capture the different stages of a night out, especially with the night being so diverse and so big that the crowd was giving me everything I needed without needing to ask so why create a fake scene of people having fun when you can capture it organically? The authenticity radiates through these images to make for a very powerful collection of photographs.

Natasha Perkin

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