it’s my song! models and mortals do karaoke in ben rayner’s photo book
The fashion photographer snaps Alexa Chung, Alice Dellal and Japanese businessmen on the mic in 'Ordered by Title.'
Photographer Ben Rayner is best known for his sun drenched, cool girl portraits shot for fashion magazines from Vice to Vogue, but he also finds himself creating more unexpected photography series by accident. Previously, his city-hopping travel shots and snaps of dogs have been made into books, (Un)familiar and Hello Buddy! respectively, and now it's his late-night grab-the-mic karaoke shots that are getting the photo book treatment.
From random Japanese guys letting loose after work to the international fashion elite getting down from London to NY, Rayner's snaps record the unbridled joy of singing along. Ahead of the release of Ordered by Title this Friday, we caught up with Ben to talk about dive bars, fashion films and getting chucked out for doing George Michael...
Why did you decide to shoot karaoke?
I'm a big karaoke fan. The very first photograph in the book is a guy in a dive bar in Detroit who did a perfect version of The Trooper by Iron Maiden; it was seriously awe inspiring. That was back in 2006, so I just kept taking photos when I was at karaoke. Eventually, I did a small black and white xerox zine of similar photos last year with 8 Ball Zines. I always wanted to explore it further so I eventually hooked up with The Gift Shop and we decided to a do a proper book. The design is amazing - my friend Nathan Nedorostek designed it and it looks insane. It comes with a custom karaoke pencil, a slip and a sticker. I'm really happy and can't wait for people to see it. This book had to be edited down for seriously thousands of images. Maybe I'll do a B-sides edition one day.
What caught your eye about karaoke?
The thing about karaoke that catches my eye is the lack of inhibition people have. People look completely insane doing it which is what is so amazing about it. I've explored karaoke before in my work; I once made a fashion karaoke video.
Is karaoke a subculture?
I think it depends where you are. Not in Asia; you go to do some karaoke just after work, everyone does it. I think it's just ultimate fun and you don't have to be good at singing. It's more of a enthusiasm thing.
What's the wildest thing that's happened at a karaoke night?
Mainly people throwing drinks over each other or taking their tops off. Somehow in one of the crazier sessions a friend of mine got hit in the face! I was singing at Smog Cutter in LA last year and I almost got thrown out of the bar for singing Careless Whisper, which totally bought the house down.
What's your karaoke song?
Ordered by Title is out June 12 and is available at The Gift Shop.
Text Charlotte Gush
Photography Ben Rayner