On 27 October I was lucky enough to photograph Bristol’s brilliant Hoochie Coochie Cabaret, at Metropolis. I’d enjoyed the show many times as a punter and always wanted to have a crack at shooting the show. Organiser Keda Breeze books some of the best cabaret, circus, vaudeville, neo-burlesque with the odd bit of comedy and physical theatre thrown in. Some of the best acts on UK and European circuit can be enjoyed and the whole thing’s one big feast for the eyes.
The Metropolis venue was once a cinema and it’s a fabulous old building that feels ideal for the vaudevillian fun of Hoochie Coochie. It’s been, variously, a comedy club, Wetherspoons pub, Christadelphian church but, most famously, was the place a young Bristolian Archibald Alexander Leach (AKA Cary Grant) first fell in love with the magic of the silver screen.
Most visitors to Hoochie Coochie make the effort to dress up and this time the dress code was ‘Freaks, geeks and sirens – circus folk and side show oddities, bearded ladies, dancing dwarfs, and Siamese twins, Ghouls, apparitions, corpse brides and dead beauties’ – so I tried to take some candid shots of the patrons in their finery as well as the weirdness unfolding on stage.
The stage lighting was reasonable and as the action was fast-paced, shutter speeds needed to be sufficient to avoid blur-marred photographs. With the Canon 5D MKII comfortable at 3200 this was no problem. Occassionaly the lights dimmed and I dropped the shutter speed to compensate, taking plenty of shots to try and get one where the heavens aligned and any motion blur didn’t spoil the photograph. The image stablisation of my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS meant camera shake was not much of an issue. Happily, lighting was reasonably consistent. As long as performers kept to the pool of brighter tungsten light in the middle of the stage, it was a case of using manual exposure and histograms on a couple of test shots and then happily clicking away. Generally, I’ll always shoot manual in difficult light or, if the lighting is both bright and consistent, perhaps Aperture priority.
Here are a just few images from the show.