I always get secondhand performer’s envy when watching any kind of show production. A play, a musical, a ballet… even rehearsing at a midtown piano studio for an upcoming film project here in New York, walking through waves of performers who fill the halls and stairwells with their mi-mi-mi‘s and piercing diction exercises and shuffling feet does prompt a strange longing for a life feeding off of audience reactions. On the one hand, there is that sense of family that you hear in erupting cheers and backslapping of a cast and crew as the curtain goes down. And then, there’s the thrill of escaping into a character or concept – putting on a face, laced with authenticity and life experiences, to tell stories and challenge expectations.
That said, I suppose that is the endgame for most creative trades. To push the boundaries, to shift the status quo, to inspire emotion, and other critical buzzwords. Image-making is no exception. But, aside from the obvious joy in getting reactions to the finished product, there is something of a thrill in spontaneous location shooting that triggers the same stage adrenaline as any performance art – particularly when your environment is completely unfamiliar, and as dynamic as Camden.
Before shooting this story in July, I hadn’t spent a whole lot of time in East London for reasons unknown – prior visits had only ever been a few days long, confined to show locations or eerily silent corporate locales. As much as the cool kids like to think of Camden as a cliché, overrun by tourists, et cetera et cetera, the crowds remain charming in their search of authentic London. For these shots in particular, it was the audience interraction and serendipitous discovery of perfectly coordinating palettes (rounding a corner to find these fluorescent orange construction workers was the ultimate hallelujah moment) despite the intense contrast of Alessandro Michele’s Early Renaissance influences against a garish urban maze, that made it one of my favourite to date.
MODEL // Madison Stubbington @ IMG
PHOTOGRAPHY & STYLING // Margaret Zhang