Drag Syndrome

Some days you just spend on auto-pilot, your morning routine followed by running through the to-do list, ticking boxes one by one and if you are lucky no spanners in the work to interrupt the daze of a very standard day. Sometimes, during a day like that, you will receive a newsletter and sometimes you will look at the newsletter thinking it will be a quick scroll at someone’s work and then move on with that box-ticking exercise. Most of the time you will keep it logged in your memory without allowing the sender ever to know any of your thoughts. It’s a dance we all do and truly understand.

However, this one day we got a newsletter from Cameron Mcnee and looked at each other with huge smiles trying to show one another the imagery. Auto-pilot was switched off and we just smiled and smiled. It was wonderful, sassy and uplifting so we reached out to him to tell us a bit more about how he came to work with Drag Syndrome.

How did you come across this story?

My friend Laurie @coco.patron does a night called ‘Their Stories’ where he interviews and celebrates LGBTQ+ creatives, he introduced me to Drag Syndrome and when I saw them interviewed and performing, I fell in love with their energy and passion.

What were you expecting from the shoot and did anything surprise you?

I wanted the process of the whole day to be enjoyable for all the talent. I put together a team of queer talent and allies of hair, makeup and styling who had experience with drag and artists with Down syndrome. This meant the journey was also a celebration. When things didn’t go to schedule, everyone adapted in a fluid way and with joy. Some clothes sent by brands didn’t fit, so the stylist sewed them onto other outfits.

You mentioned the talent brought a lot of sass to the shoot. How so?

Yes, sass and confidence. Each of the talent brought their own vibrant character to set. We would put a music track on and a show bursting with life and creativity would begin. I would sometimes suggest poses and they would either love my idea and go with it or cut me down and tell me the way it would be done. It was all done with such joy, everyone on set was in awe of the dynamism from their performances.

How did you find the editing process? Easy to choose?

We shot a lot, much more than could fit in a 12-page editorial, but the editors at Dsection Magazine loved the images and chose to give it 16 pages in the print magazine, plus a front and back cover.

Did you show the talent the imagery, what did they think?

The magazine was printed as an extra large 12″x15″ hardcover book, which looked really epic. I would have loved to have been in person when they saw the magazine. Justin Bond who is on the cover thought it was pretty awesome and the rest of the talent loved their images. I did some extra images of Davina Starr that weren’t in the mag, as she kept running on set between shots with her own outfits, I believe she liked these images the most.

What was your favourite thing that you took away from the process?

I love collaborating with a team of creatives, especially when working on a project that is meaningful. This was special as it was celebrating queer culture, working with a queer team, and pushing the boundaries of beauty, gender and perception. That made it something we were all proud to be part of.

The immediate effect to us of seeing the images and motion was a huge smile across our faces. It made us want to talk more about it. I personally felt alive seeing them. How was the feedback from sharing the shoot with the world?

Yes, everyone gets real joy from the images, which is like an audience at a Drag Syndrome performance. I’m so pleased this elation comes across in the images. It’s a special gift to bring joy to an audience, each of these Drag Queens & Kings share an infectious jubilance, and I’m just grateful to channel that through these images.

Do you have any anecdotes from set?

Yes, unless I my requests to Lady Francesca had a please and thank you, she would ignore my suggestion. ‘You’re rude, say please’ she would tell me, which would make the whole team laugh. I’ve since reflected, that maybe I am a bit rude with all my demands of talent, without a simple – please.

If you could choose a song to go with the images, what would it be?

Born This Way – Lady Gaga

For those of you reading that haven’t already jumped onto a search engine to find the story – you are welcome! Oh and while you are there, do yourself a favour and check out some of Cameron’s other work.

Cameron Mcnee, Photographerwww.cameronmcnee.com

Cameron Mcnee, Photographerwww.cameronmcnee.com