“Fashion shows are usually quite formulaic, which makes them a little easier to photograph in terms of timing. But conversely the more interesting performances are less predictable, so you don’t know what’s coming.
“Unlike a shoot, you have no influence over what’s happening. You don’t have the attention of the performers for more than a split second at a time and you’re competing for it with other photographers (which is awkward for those onstage too).
“Not to mention that you’re often shooting from a pretty unflattering angle (right underneath them at the front), and the performers onstage are usually so busy concentrating on what they’re doing that their facial expressions are not very flattering.”
However it’s not all bad, Marcus admits, because there certainly can be real gems among the results.
“The best performers radiate confidence and really engage with the crowd and cameras alike, and I’ve often got more eye contact from them because I know them, which has certainly helped.
“But in general the photo discard rate for performances is so much higher than photos of party people.
“Huge numbers of stage shots I’ve captured have ended up as discards and it has usually felt like a frustrating waste of time, so I kept struggling to find the motivation to shoot and edit them.
“I did channel my frustrations into a 2016 post entitled Tips for Fashion Shows but not much changed, so about six months later I decided to give up shooting performances.”
He quickly regretted not doing so sooner, he says, and not just because it was such a relief not having to shoot and edit performances any more.
“Also because I’ve missed so many weird, wonderful, sexy things happening right in front of my lens over the years — squinting through a viewfinder, twiddling settings and trying to push a button at the right moment instead of watching and enjoying them in full 3D like everyone else!”
Ultimately, he believes, it’s the people that make the party and the scene such a wonderful place to be.
“I’ve always been much more interested in capturing images of relaxed, playful, well dressed partygoers rather than performers and models onstage, so it felt right to focus on them completely.
“I’m very grateful,” he adds, “to the promoters that have granted me the opportunity to photograph their parties and thereby develop my skills, make contacts, and enjoy myself along the way.
“And I’m even more grateful to all of the party people and performers who have trusted me and given me a little bit of their time so that I can take the photos that I have.
“Hopefully the results have been as worthwhile for them as for me. Indeed, beyond the photos themselves, photography has enriched my life in unexpected ways, through making many wonderful friends, meeting partners, and more!”
Nevertheless, after a while of narrowing his focus to concentrate on shooting party people but not performances, it became evident to Marcus that this on its own was not going to be enough of a change.
“I think I did some of my best club work during 2017 and 2018. But eventually that lost its shine too (pun intended), and the feelings of FOMO [fear of missing out] I’d always had to a certain degree became stronger.
“Shooting party people enjoying themselves isn’t as fun as actually partying, and makes you feel like you’re missing out.
“Plus spending six-to-ten hours of my spare time on editing and publishing photos over the week or two following an event had become more and more of a chore rather than a pleasure.
“So I felt that the time had come to completely retire from shooting the party scene and give myself a break, which I did at the end of 2018, taking almost no photos at all in 2019.”
Is there anything at all he’ll miss about shooting in clubs?
“The only sorts of images I’ll miss capturing are the ones of couples where they’ve just shared a magical, passionate moment together — perhaps dancing, perhaps kissing, perhaps more — and there’s this amazing look of bliss on their faces.
“You can’t make that happen on a shoot unless it’s with a real couple, which is something I haven’t done yet, except for wedding photos!”
His photography, he reminds me, has always been a labour of love rather than a profession.
“Though I did get paid more often in later years, the vast majority of all the fetish scene photography I’ve ever done has been unpaid work. And I’ve spent far more money on buying my photographic gear than I’ve ever earned by using it.
“So of course I want to focus my time and creative energy on what I enjoy most. And that is collaborating with more experienced, confident models/performers/friends/partners in a relaxed and spontaneous environment. Plus it usually doesn’t have a deadline attached!”
As well as doing more of this kind of photography in the future, Marcus says he’d really like to make better use of the massive amount of work he has already produced.
His first ambition is, over the next year, to work towards mounting an exhibition of some of his best images. And if that goes down well, he says, then perhaps putting a book together would be the next logical step — “but one thing at a time”.
Since MarcusT is now exclusively interested in shoots that enable full creative freedom, you might imagine he would be gravitating somewhat towards studio photography. But you would be wrong.
“I’ve never got on very well with studios,” he confesses. “I find them very clinical and boring spaces that tend to require a lot of forethought to get the best results.
“But my brain doesn’t work that way. I much prefer shooting in visually interesting places that offer
Might doing more commercial work also be of interest in the future?
“As it’s my spare time creative passion I’ll continue to shoot primarily for the mutual pleasure and benefit of whoever I’m collaborating with and myself.
“But that certainly could include creating content with models for OnlyFans and elsewhere, as I’ve always wanted to shoot more explicit and fetishistic imagery.
“While I’m potentially open to more commercial work, in my experience that also means less creative freedom and more pressure, which I don’t need more of outside my real job!
“I’ll just have to see what opportunities present themselves and take on projects that feel right.”
How does a move from club photography to location shooting affect the kind of on-site and post-production equipment and techniques Marcus will be employing?
“In a club I would be roaming around all the time so I would travel light with only my camera and flash gun. Usually the flash would be mounted on the camera with a diffuser, but sometimes on a cord.
“The cord allows more control over the light but is more hassle because you have to hold and trigger the heavy camera with one hand, and I would often feel too lazy to bother.
“In contrast, on a shoot I almost always have a bag of tricks with me, which in the past would include multiple flashes with remote triggers.
“Nowadays there’d more likely be continuous LED lighting of various sorts, tripods to mount them on, diffusers and gels to modify the light, and a few lenses that might come in handy.
“There’d also be various accessories which might complement the model’s outfit, and maybe a spare garment or two from my collection of outfits for shooting (an entire wardrobe) or perhaps loaned to me by a designer, etc.
“I’m trying to push myself to do a better job of getting the photos right in the camera than I used to in the clubs, without getting too obsessed or distracted. It’s much more important to focus on the model and the moment than to get bogged down with endless tweaking of the set-up.”
However, Marcus admits, there’s no photo he’s ever taken that hasn’t been improved by post-processing.
“Just as film photographers have always spent hours in darkrooms teasing out better images from their negatives, Lightroom lets me tease out better results in a playful, spontaneous, realtime way that’s very much like the sliders and knobs on an audio mixing desk.
“Whereas Photoshop is much more step-by-step and I don’t enjoy it, so I rarely touch it. So far, 99 percent of all my editing time has been spent in Lightroom, but I do want to continue to develop my skills and explore different visual styles that I can’t achieve in Lightroom alone.”
In his 15-year love affair with fetish photography, Marcus has photographed many glamorous women and quite a few glamorous men. If he had to pick out a few past collaborations that have particularly significance for him, which would they be?
“One of my most memorable early shoots with a high profile fetish model was with Emily Marilyn in 2011 when she turned up in a red Cathouse Clothing catsuit and we wandered around a few alleyways off the Strand that I’d stumbled upon beforehand.
“We had a wonderful time together — everything just flowed and felt relaxed, spontaneous and fun. She knew exactly what she was doing so I could focus on what I was doing rather than directing her.
“Passers-by stopped in their tracks to take photos (which Emily loved, being a true exhibitionist). And most memorably, when we stopped off for a drink on a boat on the Thames, a guy in fancy dress approached and asked for a photo together.
“Quick as a flash Emily told him that he’d have to get on his hands and knees so that she could sit on him, which without much resistance, he did. And I have the photo to prove it!”
“Honeyhair also stands out as being super confident and fun to photograph. We’ve done two excellent shoots together so far (both in Berlin during different GFB weekends). See the first Honeyhair shoot here, and I look forward to shooting with her again in the future.
“At the other end of the spectrum, perhaps the least glamorous shoot I’ve ever done was capturing a stage performance by the infamous Mouse at a Torture Garden night in Vauxhall about ten years ago.
“I ended up with a faceful of soapy water ejected from her rear end. I knew it was coming as I’d seen her act before, but I didn’t get out of the way in time!
And what about some models Marcus would like to shoot with in the future?
“Though I’ve never seen her in the flesh, I’ve always, always thought that Lilly Roma has an incredibly enigmatic beauty and allure that I would love to capture.
“Octokuro is another model that springs to mind. I met her at the German Fetish Ball a few years ago and she has such a spontaneous, playful personality and strong look that I have no doubt we’d create some amazing images together.
“More generally, it’s always a pleasure to shoot with international models who are visiting London. So I hope to hear from and make plans with more of them, whenever that may be.”
And finally, what fetish designers’ creations would he particularly like to use in future collaborators?
“It’s very hard to pick favourites,” is his answer. “But of the designers I haven’t shot much (or any) of, I’d particularly like to shoot with Dead Lotus Couture, Kurage, Am Statik, Pandora Deluxe and Zorenko, among others.”
BELOW: 60 images in two galleries from MarcusT’s location shoots with models (2015-18, 2018-19).
CLICK/TAP on a preview below to open the gallery, then click/tap any thumbnail to start slideshow