Makeup and Mirrors

In continuation of the portrait posts, here is a couple of my efforts.  When I tell, and especially when I show people the project that I have been working on this past year and a half, they question my sexual preference and give me a weird sideways look with one raised eyebrow and ask, why?

I’m not much of a posed portrait photographer, and I need to take a little time in a portrait studio for a little education on lighting, but what I enjoy is to capture portrait-like photos of those I have been hanging out with in their many different environments.  I’ve posted a few photos in the past of what I have been working on.  These are some of the photos that I have taken in the homes, the dressing room, and in the clubs of many drag queens in SLC.  As you can see, they spend much of their time in front of mirrors with their makeup, even when they are not at home.

Besides photographs, I have also done a little video in multiple locations as well.  This has definitely been an educational experience.  The person at the top, Drew Landerman, has been referred to as the “queen bee” because of his significant impact on the evolution of the drag community in SLC.  He was announced as the first queen at the Miss City Weekly drag competition during Pride Week 3 years ago.  He has been the manager of a local Hot Topic, but recently moved to Oakland, CA. to work for the cosmetics company, Sugarpill.  I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Drew a little more while doing a video interview in his home before he moved.

The second photo is Scotty, aka, Cartel Chameleon Fenice’ and has pretty much taken over the “queen bee” position as she continues to push for awareness in the general public.  He is also one of the most creative queens as far as performance, make-up and apparel.  He is one of the many that I have been able to have the privilege to go into their residence and do a little photo/video.

The third photo is Tanner, aka, Klaus Von Austerlitz, who is a close friend of Scotty’s as he plays the cello in their band together.  On top of making great efforts to make the drag scene more public, they are also trying to get their band out there as well, and have even performed in their drag apparel.  Tanner is a student at the U studying theater, and his performances onstage show it visually and emotionally.  Klaus’s performances are almost strictly for the shock value of the audience, and if you don’t like it, don’t watch.

The final image is Willard Cron, the latest Miss City Weekly.  As you can see, Willard expresses great pride in his body and turn heads everytime he walks in the door with his homemade apparel.  Just like Klaus, he loves to see the crowds eyes get bigger and bigger during his performances.

Many are quick to judge their unique appearances, and don’t consider their personalities, but I have been able to take time to get to know their inner personality.  Honestly, they are some of the nicest people I have ever met.  Unfortunately I have not been able to capture much of that side through photos, but have been able to pin that down in video.

These 4 individuals have probably had the biggest impact on slowly bringing the drag scene more and more out of the shadows. That is one of their main goals as a community.  Some name projects, some don’t.  I thought, Silence is a Drag fit.  After reading what I have said, what do you think?

Erik’s comment on the photo being a reflection of the subject comes to mind when I view these photos and I wonder if I am reflecting them appropriately.  I know I am missing a lot of what could be included in my series of photos to show the other side of the spectrum, but that was one of the main purposes of the video.  Although my lifestyle is no where along the same lines as these individuals, I do feel that this project and these photos are most definitely a reflection of me.  You can raise your eyebrow, or give me strange looks, etc. next time you see me, but I’ll tell you what, this opportunity has been very educational.  Not only have I learned a lot, but I’ve also learned that I have A LOT to learn.

I post here and visit this site to learn from all of you.  I post here for the opportunity to hear your comments.  Your comments concerning what I have said, or the photos are very much appreciated.  Hopefully they are a positive critique or comments, but if you feel like knocking my photos down a few notches and tell me what could make them better, feel free. Just realize that this is not the extent of what I have captured.  They are only a small selection that fit more in the portrait series (somewhat).

Drag portrait 2

Copyright Christopher Reeves

2012-08-25_Drag Prep and Club Mixx-1447

Willard Cron Drag

Christopher Reeves

I graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in mass communication. I worked for the Daily Utah Chronicle at the University of Utah for 2.5 years, one of which I was the editor. I was also a pj and editor for 2.5 years with the Outdoor Retailer Daily magazine. I am currently stationed at the Park Record as the chief, and am still a hoser.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Good stuff so far, Chris. I like the look and feel of #1, and also #4. I love the monochrome high contrast look of the top shot, and filtering out the color helps me look closer. However, the green socks in #4 make that shot. Just looking at these 4, I’d say you could use something really tight and maybe something really wide to expand the visuals

  2. I wouldn’t worry about the weird sideways looks.

    Personally, I got into photojournalism because I wanted to learn about the world around me and the camera, for me, is an excellent tool to help me do just that.

    If you only ever photographed things that are familiar and comfortable, you would run out of interesting things to photograph pretty quickly. It’s precisely because they are out of the ordinary that they are compelling.

    That said, have you thought about contrasting their stage personalities with their everyday personas? Photographing them at work in a suit an tie and presenting the images you find their side by side with the images of them in the clubs?

  3. Thanks for your responses. I have actually been working towards getting photos of them at work, out on the town in public places, in their homes just doing what they do in their free time, etc. I’ve spent a little time with some of them in their homes, but they rarely let me know when they are going to do anything outside of drag. They always invite me to events, but I have enough of that perspective. I have been working on a similar approach as the second link, Trent. I was going to get together with Princess Kennedy, but I think she’s been covered quite a bit. I’ve become quite familiar with many of the lesser known queens in the area that I would rather focus on anyways. Especially since many of them are the ones who have made, and continue to make a significant impact on raising awareness to the public of the drag community in SLC.

    One alternative that I am considering is focusing a little more on the RCGSE (Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire). One of my very first photo opportunities with this whole project was the 2012 RCGSE coronation. The current empress (Champagne Starr), and a few other royalty, suggested doing a documentary on the organization because he doesn’t think one has ever even been done yet, and the man who started the entire organization is getting close to his deathbed. The problem is that he is in San Francisco. If I can get this project a little more focused, and organized, I might have to make a trip…

    Thanks again for your advice and suggestions.

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