Capturing ‘A Step in Time’: Navigating Cabaret Photography and Overcoming Challenges
The talented team at Wild Heart Creatives orchestrated and hosted a captivating cabaret show titled ‘A Step in Time’ in Sydney a few weeks ago. The event took place in the delightful ambiance of the Wildfire Lounge, and I had the pleasure of attending and photographing it. To be perfectly honest, I had never experienced a cabaret show before this, and my knowledge of what it entailed was rather limited. It was thanks to my dear photographer friend, Sammie, who graciously passed my details along to the organisers when she found herself unavailable for the gig. Sammie, if you’re reading this, you’re the best. Thank you. It not only provided me with a unique opportunity, but also challenged me to trust in my skills in a relatively unfamiliar setting.
As a photographer, I’m always seeking new experiences and challenges to hone my craft. This cabaret show was indeed a departure from my usual subjects and settings, and it presented me with both excitement and apprehension. One notable aspect of this experience was the sheer volume of photographs I ended up taking. In fact, I filled up both of my memory cards during the event, which not only posed storage issues but also added to the complexity of organizing and selecting the best shots. It’s not uncommon for young, learning photographers, like myself, to overshoot, especially when faced with uncertainty about their skills. In my case, the combination of a relatively small performance space, dim lighting, and my lack of familiarity with cabaret added to the challenge. I had just finished a seven-hour shift at another job before rushing to Sydney for the show, which likely contributed to my feelings of being overwhelmed and somewhat unsteady.
However, as I sifted through the multitude of shots from the evening, I realised that overshooting had its merits, especially when photographing performers. The abundance of images meant I had a higher chance of capturing those perfect moments when the performers were not caught in an awkward mid-sing expression, which might have been easily missed with a more conservative approach. In a world where every nuance of emotion matters, it was a valuable lesson in adaptability and seizing the opportunity.
Beyond the technical aspects of photography, this job also led me to some fun interpersonal experiences. The performers and organisers of ‘A Step in Time’ were incredibly easy to work with, their friendliness and professionalism made me so comfortable in doing my job. It was intriguing to find myself in a place I had never been, surrounded by people I didn’t know, attending an event I would otherwise never have considered. Photography has a way of introducing you to the most unexpected things. Throughout the night, I engaged in conversations with the occasional stranger, including one who, incidentally, had gotten an almost identical tattoo to mine at around the same time I did! I found these interactions charming and enriching.
Let’s dive into the heart of the experience—the cabaret show itself. The performers skillfully led the audience through multiple characters and storylines, each performing 3 or 4 songs based on their own approach to the show. From the sultry melodies to the witty banter, every element of the performance exuded charm and nostalgia. I felt a bit funny, darting around quietly in this tiny dark room, snapping pictures of these performances, switching lenses, trying not to be in anyone’s way but still get the shot I wanted.
The cabaret format, I learned, is an art form that blends music, dance, comedy, and theatre into a mesmerizing spectacle. The Wild Heart Creatives team had masterfully curated a journey through theatre. Each act was a delightful surprise, offering a fresh perspective and a glimpse into the creativity of the performers.
Changing lenses became second nature that night as I adjusted my equipment like a seasoned pro. I even dared to try out the exposure compensation feature on my camera for the first time at this event, and to my delight, it worked wonders for the dim lighting, although the stress of unfamiliarity also undoubtedly contributed to my overshooting predicament.
One of the delightful surprises of photographing performers is how easy they are to work with. I had a hot shoe light for my camera, which I used to take portraits of the performers in the bar between shows. I apologised for the bright light, but to my amusement, they joked they were used to it. Unlike other events where I’ve had to persuade individuals to be part of a photograph, here, the performers were not only willing but enthusiastic.
Despite the challenges I faced that evening, I walked away with a sense of accomplishment and a newfound appreciation for cabaret as an art form. This experience served as a reminder that stepping out of one’s comfort zone can lead to unexpected rewards. I had the opportunity to collaborate with immensely talented performers and capture the essence of a unique and enchanting world.
In conclusion, my journey into the world of cabaret photography at ‘A Step in Time’ was a thrilling adventure filled with challenges and rewards. It taught me the importance of adaptability, the consequences and value of overshooting in certain situations, and the magic of capturing fleeting moments on camera. Most importantly, it introduced me to a vibrant and captivating art form that I had never explored before. I extend my gratitude to Wild Heart Creatives for this unforgettable experience and to Sammie for making it all possible. I hope my photographs convey even a fraction of the magic that I witnessed that evening, and I look forward to more adventures in the world of photography.