The second in an ongoing series of Ph events took place at Peter Joucla's spacious Tour de Force Theatre Company rehearsal studio in Hackney, east London, on a chilly autumn day in October.
These events were originally conceived as a showcase for interesting new designers, striking characters from the UK fetish/alternative scene, and photographers with an eye for the unusual.
The aim was to allow everyone involved to create something extraordinary on their own terms, at their own pace. (The full cast list and links can be found in the information panel below the galleries on the right.)
Ph1 took place in February 2009 in the old TDF studio in Highbury, and despite some issues with lighting and other kit, produced some beautiful art by Marcus T and Nick von Fiction.
The models, MUA and designers were fantastic, and their boundless enthusiasm made the event a success beyond my wildest dreams.There were clowns, rubberdolls, alien babies, gorgeous girls, fabulous make-up and designs, and an anarchic atmosphere to die for.
For the second event, drawing on the lessons learned in February, we had more of a plan for the rigging, and a few pre-defined sequences to get the day rolling. As ever, with something on this scale, there were a number of absentees from the original list of invitees, but being wiser for the lessons of Ph1, the numbers on the day were pretty much as planned.
Alan Cumber from Transmutants very kindly transported my mountain of kit and props to the studio bright and early on the Sunday morning, and we began rigging on the stroke of midday.
Sununu Hernandez, Peter Joucla, Max, and the photographers themselves then created a four-set indoor environment that deftly avoided any light spill, and met all the criteria for maximum variation.
Shad Ohayon's black room was particulary tricky, but the ingenuity and rigging ability required to create it was thankfully there and raring to go. Take a bow, Sununu.
All of which meant that by 1:30pm, the studio was rigged and lit, and the majority of participants were in the building and ready to let rip. I love it when something as complex as this runs tight to the proposed schedule. So major credit is due to all concerned. I tip my hat.
Tom Medwell took to the exterior like the true pro he is, and picked out the industrial elements with an impressive eye for the noir
Tom Medwell took to the exterior like the true professional he is, and picked out the industrial elements with an impressive eye for the noir. On such a chilly day, I have nothing but admiration for his stamina and resolve. To say nothing of the extremely high quality of his work.
Shad Ohayon ensconced herself in her chamber of darkness, while Dafydd Owen, Nick von Fiction and I set about rinsing every last drop of atmosphere from the three sets in the main studio.
Stephanie Meinhoff worked like a demon to get the make-up done in double quick time. As a last minute replacement, her contribution was immense.
Jules Newman unleashed her selection of wigs, masks and headpieces from the Ghoulia's Peculiars box of bizarre, while Paul Miller (Lacing Lilith) and Cassie Carpenter (Engineers of Desire), dressed the assembled throng in their fabulous latex and distressed leather creations.
Lady Lucie Latex was represented by Aneta Buczak, and Rachel Freire by Alan Cumber.
The range of styles, and the relentless determination to experiment, created an atmosphere that began to crackle with energy almost immediately — thanks mainly to the boundless enthusiasm of the models and crew.
As the day progressed, this energy took on a life of its own, and swept everyone and everything before it. I live for moments like this, when the co-operative spirit drives everyone involved to surpass their expectations, and have a wonderful time doing it.
If we'd only managed to produce a half dozen beautiful shots from the day's proceedings, I'd still have considered the event a success, simply because of the amount of fun involved.
In this case, the volume and quality of imagery produced in a frenetic six-hour spell was remarkable.
I may organise (in the loosest possible way) these events, but the people who really make it happen are the models
I may organise (in the loosest possible way) these events, but the people who really make it happen are the models. I'm a big fan of character, being in the main a wonky outdoor portrait photographer, so traditional notions of beauty are not what I'm looking for. They are ubiquitous and often quite one-dimensional.
The unusual, bizarre, strange, and offbeat are what I'm after, but if we do step into rampant gorgeousness territory in the process, I'm unlikely to complain.
After the technical difficulties she experienced at Ph1 (a long story), it was a real pleasure to finally capture Aneta Buczak in all her glory.
Jams Cooper, Marnie Scarlett, Syban Velardi-Laufer, Hannah Marie Short, Vylene Lapelligrossa, Alan Cumber, Sununu Hernandez, Ali Simmons, Anansie, Dave Barnett, Miss Errant, and Floyd the dog were never less than totally professional throughout a long day under lights, in the dark, and on freezing windswept rooftops.
Shorn Rah, Syban Velardi-Laufer, Vylene, and Sophie Rose also appeared from nowhere in mid afternoon and impressed the hell out of me with their instant engagement in proceedings.
The creative flow as the models, designers, and photographers all worked their socks off was truly inspiring.
My only regret was not capturing everyone at the end of proceedings for a group photo of some of the sweetest individuals you could ever hope to meet.
No inflated egos were used in this production; only boundless goodwill and high octane joie de vivre.
Giving some well merited exposure to phenomenally talented people on the cusp of great things is no more than they deserve. It was a pleasure to be able to create the conditions to achieve that aim.
Ph3 will take place in January 2010, and promises to build on the solid foundations of its predecessors. Look out for the results here on The Fetishistas.
Meanwhile, I hope you like the photos from Ph2.
My only regret was not capturing everyone at the end for a group photo of some of the sweetest individuals you could ever hope to meet