Being able to bring joy to the players at LARP is an increible feeling. Knowing that my photos are the icing on the cake for their experience of the game - and that they extend the froth indefinitely afterwards - is a really exciting thing to be a part of. I used to work in very corporate product photography, but I soon learned that actually I really wanted to make people happy with my photographs. I fundamentally believe that everyone should have access to good images for themselves, and LARP gives me a way to fulfil that ideal.
But it's working behind the scenes and with organisers that gives me the most pleasure. I've spent the last three years forging close relationships with the organisers of the games that I photograph. I do think that my images work better to show what LARP is like to outsiders rather than perhaps as memories for the players - and I'm entirely ok with that. LARP is a fantastic hobby and one that deserves to be taken seriously and seen for what it's participants know that it really is. A place where you can slip into an alternative universe, where you can explore different lives.
As a player, you don't see the work that I do behind the scenes. But I promise, you do benefit from it. From putting together style guides and consulting on images to help shape game worlds, to designing and illustrating planning applications. I have a massive library of LARP images - around 6500 published - that I can draw from to help both established and new game organisers bring their worlds to life.
In 2016 I've booked 12 events into my calendar and I suspect that more might get added as we go along. For those that are interested, that's Empire, Odyssey, Shadow Wars, The World Went Dark and Forsaken. These are subject to change, usual disclaimers apply.
But as you can imagine, this all takes it's toll on my wallet. I am a full time student and I do freelance writing for photography magazines in my spare time. However loans and freelance work only go so far and LARP is an indulgence for me when it comes to money. There's the basics like traveling to events and paying for food, but I've also invested over a thousand pounds in the last year or two on gear primarily designed to up my photography game at LARP.
There's also the small matter that next year I hope to continue on in education to work on a postgraduate research masters. My area of research is how feminist, queer, and other often pushed-aside methodologies interact together when it comes to history of art. I actually frame my discussions with videogaming and gaming - and I'm hoping to write more LARP into my postgraduates thesis. None of this is easy to fund, and LARP is an expensive hobby that sometimes make it feel even harder to have enough money.
To help promote our hobby and show the world what we do. This year I also launched larp.guide, a website designed to help bring the community together and discuss LARP when we're not at a game. I really believe in the power of the LARP community and I want to do my part in driving it forwards to find more participants - which in turn means more money in the hobby and more games! There were some voiced opinions that so much knowledge gets lost on social media - people say interesting things and then they just tumble into the Facebook void - so I put together a website that I hope will become a resource for the community to use.
My photography was a key point in me being able to take this project forwards. Not only do I have the aforementioned thousands of images of games that I've photographed to lavishly illustrate articles, but I can also photograph tutorials too. Great images make articles go viral - there's no getting away from that fact. And with my own studio here in Banbury I can shoot images as often as I need to.
On top of that I've also been shooting a portrait project that focusses on the people who make our games that we play. From organisers to prop makers, I want to document the people who tirelessly put so much in to LARP. With my Patrons help so far I've been able to fund film and developing to shoot these images - but there are so many more images to shoot!
It's with your help that I can keep on documenting these people who too often slip into the background without thanks.
So what does your support mean to me?
It means that I can keep on creating images of LARP. That I can go to both smaller and new systems and shoot them without worrying that I'm finding myself very out of pocket. It means that I know people love my work and want me to carry on doing what I do.
And it means that I can keep up with buying essential replacement kit that I need for LARP events (like the high capacity memory cards that I use but haven't updated in over three years and boring things like new batteries). It would also help pay towards the insurance I have as a LARP photographer, which not only protects me from accidental damage of my kit while at an energetic LARP event, but also protects you incase I somehow damage you (I carry professional indemnity insurance for LARP as well as gear cover).
Last but not least, it helps me pick up the tab for important new kit. I try to blend in as much as possible. This can mean anything from a plain set of trousers for Empire to a set of ballistic sunglasses and body armour for Shadow Wars. I'm passionate about keeping the standards of kit aspirational in-game, and I don't believe that those aspirations should exclude photographers.
Your support means so much to me and it will enable me to keep doing what I love - which is shooting images of LARP and continuing to push at the boundaries of what we think is possible.