As part of my current project for my final year of my BA I’ve been photographing the exploits of a group of LARPers (LARP for the uninitiated being ‘live action role play‘), exploring the escapism of the hobby and other nerdy past times. It in part ties into my work photographing dolls and their collectors, given that both past times put a lot of emphasis on being creative and escapist outlets.
The shoot that inspired the project was one that took place over a weekend in October, in a converted barn out in the Yorkshire Moors. The event, a mix of birthday party and yearly LARP event, was a frenetic, action packed cowboy and alien adventure.
As my first experience of LARP it was one hell of an introduction, one that included occasionally quite literally having to hurl myself onto one of the many couches to avoid getting trampled or get in the way during one of the many fights (Fights in LARP games being fought with foam latex swords, axes and toy guns in this instance). As far as it goes as a shoot it was certainly one of the most unusual and enjoyable I’ve ever done. Focusing on simply catching candid moments of role-play and fighting I almost wish I could have had multiple photographers there with me to capture it all as I’m sure there are many moments I missed because of the sheer scale of the game (which included over 40 people). Technically speaking it was a challenge too, the converted barn it was held in presenting a lot of difficulties when it came to lighting shots on the fly. Given the walls and ceiling of the main room where painted a deep brick red, a colour cast, especially when bouncing flash was almost inevitable and endlessly frustrating. Still I’m extremely pleased with how many of the photographs came out because even with a few technical issues, they captured some of the best moments of the event and went down a storm with the LARPers when I shared the final shots with them. Which is after all the ultimate goal.
Moving on from the shoot itself the nature of the event and the way in which the people who attended accepted me without a second thought got me thinking about geek culture in general. While the subculture’s far from perfect there is something incredibly magical about being able to surround yourself with like minded people and just have unabashed fun. It’s this idea and how that ties in with my previous projects looking at doll owners and the like that I want to explore more, there are so many aspects of geek subculture beyond LARP and dolls such as table top gaming, comic books, fandoms etc which share a lot of the same mindset of simply doing what you love and I really want to explore more of it with future projects.