LARP is unique and LARP photography even more so.
LARP stands for – Live Action Role Play. Think of it like a mix of murder mystery nights, Dungeons and Dragons and Immersive Theatre. Where anywhere between 50 and 2000 people come together to act out characters in a large scale plot over a few days – doing everything as their chosen character.
Its great fun and has lead to some really interesting moments for me personally (its not everyday you get to take over the world and declare yourself Queen, or lead an army of 400 in to battle, or defeat the darkness with stories) but I am not here to convince you to come play games. I want to talk about the unique style of photography thats needed at these events.
Where normal event photography (including back stage and theatre photography) is designed to show off the cast/characters and the actions they are performing, too show off the skill and talent of everyone involved, from the actors to the set design, direction and script. LARP differs because you are aiming to preserve some special moments (often unplanned) between two people (or more), it is far more like documentary or news photography because you as the person behind the lens doesn’t know what is coming next. These images are often the only form of physical memory that exists from these events, with most games encouraging players to remain detached from modern technology (or at least removed from the idea of documenting your game).
This leads to a dilema, for example; on average at a wedding or similar type of event I would expect to take 1000+ photos, then selected ones to edit, then select ones to send to the client. I would take out any that are blurry or have something in the background that ruins the foreground focus, I might crop or edit to keep the subject more centralised.But with LARP photography the focus is not on your Mad Photography Skills but far more about the characters in them – I will still take over 1000+ a day and still cut that down to a few hundred and then only finalise just over 100. Ultimately people would rather a blurry photo of them doing a cool thing, than no photo of them at all, which means you end up sharing photos that possibly don’t make you look as professional as you would like.
Take for example the image above – its messy and lacking in key subject, the background is busy – and in my opinion the contrast isnt great. But it shows a wide selection of characters off to do something thats important to them and the game – so I released it.
Sometimes as a photographer you have to swallow your pride and release images that dont show off your best work, but ones the tell the best stories.