An invitation to photograph at a LRP event. (That’s Live-action Role Playing to those of you, like me, that are not in the know on this one). ‘Awesome’ I thought, ‘a chance to shoot some epic cinematic scenes’. I love cinematic. Especially lo-fi Tarantino style cinematic so it sounds right up my street.
And then came the other bit of the invitation. ‘You’ll have to be in costume’.
Um, ok. This shouldn’t be too hard, should it? I mean I had a tailor and a seamstress in the family and my other grandmother taught me to sew as a child. I even got a place at the London College of Fashion on their tailoring course when I was 18, so I must have some mad skillz tucked away somewhere. It’s a long time though since I worked with the Nomadic Players as their technical director, both lighting them dressing them all in costume, and to be honest to fit with the Nomads tradition, most of that was always a last minute bodge on a serious budget anyway.
So I have been watching classics and epics and last week I even had a Lord of The Rings marathon while I consumed inhuman amounts of pizza and fizzy drinks in bed (what’s an unemployed girl to do?), I’m recalling pleasant memories of Sharpe and all the excellent camera work that always goes with these series.
But of course, I can’t direct people who are in character. A thought that didn’t really dawn on me until a day or two ago. There’s no ‘could you just step to the left, into the light a little?’ while someone is roleplaying, I’m going to have to go with what I’ve got on the fly.
I mean I’m taking my lights and I’m hoping I’ll find some eager bodies to shoot something interesting with in the mornings before time in, but other than that, I’ve got to kind of hope that the people with the awesome costumes are all congregating in one place and roleplaying in the right light to make great shots. This is so far out of my comfort zone that I can’t even SEE the zone anymore. You see, I like glamour. I like finding a hot model, I like getting him into position, then spending half an hour playing with a light to make him look as wonderful as possible. I don’t really DO off the cuff shooting.
Oh and the costume? I look like a hobbit. I challenge anyone who is as short as me to wear a cloak and not look like a hobbit. However I do have rather cool boots that are a Vivienne Westwood ripoff. Who said that Medieval chicks can’t be stylish? Of course the other problem is that when searching for costuming inspiration is that most women who LRP seem to be based in hot places, where the objective is to show as much skin and be as much of a sexy tavern wench as possible. That’s not going to happen. It’s going to be -3 this Easter weekend, there will be no flesh on show other than my eyes.
I mean literally, I’ve taken some Arabic clothing as inspiration here. I figure I don’t have to be from one of the lands that are represented in the game (in fact I’d rather prefer it if people didn’t mistake me for one of their own and actually talk to me, expecting me to roleplay back), so I’m a bit of a ‘foreign foreigner’ as the games designer puts it. Under my extremely heavy and thick woollen riding cloak (it’s actually based on a Roman riding cloak design - so shoot me) I’m wearing a Hijab inspired headdress (picked up from those long travels on the spice route equivilent, of course) mostly to keep me warm. I’m theorising that anything covering my head, mouth and nose is a bonus in these times, but alternatively I can just wear it as a face covering in the style of a Ranger. And hareem trousers. Oh thank the Lord for hareem trousers - you can hide a whole load of lycra base layers under those. But I’m topping it with an English inspired peasants padded jerkin. It’s not quite finished yet, but for the summer events when I actually remove my warm cloak, it’s going to have corsetry detailing built in to the back, as would be fitting for a seriously cool female rogue (but I really couldn’t find time to insert around 50 eyelets by hand over the last two days). I’m sure someone will take a picture of me this weekend, although the more I think about it, the more bizarre and unfitting my outfit sounds. I’ve just sort of gone ‘I WANT TO MAKE COOL SHIT’ and not thought about it too much more.
Of course this surely all goes to pot when you consider that for most of the weekend I’m going to have a 400mm, shiny white lens hanging off my neck. So however much effort I make, there’s only so much you can do about the fact that you’re a photographer attending a roleplaying event. Unless I roleplay an artist from faraway lands who makes pictures with a magical black box. I hope everyone has a good imagination…
I like this. I like making things and I like taking pictures. It seems to fit together well. And so far, I’m enjoying that. But I may change my mind after four days sleeping in a tent below freezing.