Sunday, 27 November 2011

An Interview with... Elsa Quarsell

The lovely Elsa took some time out of her busy schedule to have a few exchanges with me...

Tell me a little something about how you got into photography and the type of photography you do?

I started doing photography at school when I was 15. My dad was a photography enthusiast and had all the darkroom equipment so I set it all up at home. I had a very good teacher who encouraged me a lot and took me on as an apprentice after I finished school when I was 18. I won competitions and started exhibiting quite early and got a lot of praise which spurred me on even more. When I first started out I did a lot of reportage style work, then I got into fashion photography which wasn't really encouraged in Art College so there I did a lot of portrait work which is what I do most of now, but it's all quite 'fashiony' I guess... I love it all!

When did you first discover Burlesque?

About 3.5-4 years ago at The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, I used to go there a lot.

How did you come to realise you wanted to put such a big project together on this subject and to spend over two years on it?

It started as a little project and it grew bigger and bigger and BIGGER! I wanted to have an exhibition and after doing about 30 shoots here in London I did. People seemed to like the pictures a lot and I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to carry on and to go to a few other cities to shoot and maybe make a book.

Were there at any point during the project did you want to give it up, change it or was it full on all the way?

No it was pretty much full on all the way. I’m pretty determined and if I’ve decided to do something I’ll do it, however much work it takes!

I guess there was no real plan from the beginning, everything just happened as the project grew…like the interviews were all done after by email and I started shooting the detail pictures quite late on in the project. I had to go back to quite a a few peoples houses.

What was the biggest challenge you came up against during the making of The Domestic Burlesque book?

Hm… I guess doing all this whilst being pregnant and finishing it with a baby in my arms!

I did my last shoot just one week before giving birth! But it went pretty well, must have been a pretty funny sight though….shame no one took a picture!

What was involved with publishing your own work? How hard was it?

It’s definitely hard work publishing your own book! Raising the money, doing all the PR, distribution….the list is long. It’s been hard but also a lot of fun and it’s good to be completely in control. I’ve learnt a lot. And I’m very lucky to have such a lovely, helpful husband!

Did you receive any burlesque lessons in exchange?

I got married 1.5 ago and had a burlesque lesson for my hen do with the lovely Miss Violet Crumble. It was a lot of fun!

Did you meet any divas along the way?

You would have thought so after doing 104 shoots but no, I actually didn’t. Everyone was really nice and welcoming. It's been such a fun project to do and I've met so many amazing people

Were you tempted at any point to transform yourself into a burlesque goddess?

I think I was before I started the project but after seeing so many brilliant performances I gave up the idea…better to leave it to the professionals!

Where can we get hold of a copy of The Domestic Burlesque?

On the website, The Domestic Burlesque, and in London you can buy it in Artwords, American Retro, Soho Original Books, The Society Club, Rough Trade East, Bordello London….and more to be added to the list soon.

What is next for Elsa?

Promoting the book! I have a few book events in London before Christmas and I’m off to Stockholm to launch it over there next week. I’ll be in Dallas for Christmas so I'm having a launch there too, then Berlin in January. And I can’t wait to start a new project!

Thank you to Elsa for her project, her book and the interview.  It has been fun! xxx

Here are a few pages from the book... Go buy it!

Here I am!

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