BOYZ N DA CLUB: An Interview with Photographer QueerGarden  

All images are by QueerGarden.

Written by Megan Stevenson 

Club photographs are rarely sexy, but photographer QueerGarden’s new series BOYZ N DA CLUB is showing queer clubbing in its sexiest, most joyous form. Taken in a mini-studio at T-Boys Club, a London club-night celebrating trans-mascs, these polished, magazine quality images are a far cry from the sweaty and blurred club photographs of myself I wince at after a night out. How are these photos so… enviable? Beliza Buzollo, the photographer behind QueerGarden, whose series RIPE was displayed last year in Dalston Superstore, and who recently won the 2023 Madame F Queer Britain Art Award, sat down with me to discuss queer euphoria in BOYS N DA CLUB. 

Where did the idea for a studio photoshoot in a club come from?   

The first time I did it was in 2017, at a lesbian party in Brazil – São Paulo – where I used to live. But it was only now that I got this idea back. There is something special about the control of studio lighting with the spontaneity of the club environment. People are their own makeup artists and stylists. They bring their own energy. There is music blasting around, you have people having a fun time. As a queer and trans-centred space, you cannot replicate this euphoria.  

Who do you take these photos for?   

QueerGarden is for queer life. I do not think about how this is going to be perceived by people outside of our community when I am producing the work. I think the photographs honour the nightclub, they honour the scene. However… if I had one wish as to what the desired affect could be on people outside our community, it is that they are really jealous that they are not there! But first and foremost, it’s for the queer community, and creating the best portrait I can of what’s going on right now. 

I was amazed when I saw the photos and realised they were from a club, and not a feature for a magazine.    

Great, that is exactly what I want! The glossy magazine look, it only comes with post-production, which is a huge aspect of my process. I do not mean doing toxic retouching, but really working on the volume and the light and the contrast, the texture. I think; how is the light travelling? And how is your eye travelling in the picture? If a bit of light or a highlight is off, that is going to take your attention away, and the image loses its magic. I want you to feel the picture. I want it to be a sensory experience, and I want you to feel the joy that other people were having.   

Toxic retouching?    

I am very careful because I have no desire of it being ‘plasticky’ commercial. I do not remove any marks at all. And of course, I am not changing anyone’s body either. If there is one thing I do, if I see a little t-boy moustache, I will bring it out just a little bit more, just for that extra dose of euphoria. That is why it is so important to have trans people in post-production as well, to catch that kind of thing.  

Will you be taking more photographs for BOYZ N DA CLUB?   

I am so pleased with how it has turned out. These are just the first of many. It is a very young project. As long as I am in those environments and I have the resources to produce it, I would love to still do it. It is almost an obsession. 

The people look so confident in the photos. How do you help people feel comfortable in front of the camera?    

We set up a photobooth in the corner and had two photography sessions. People are already in an environment they feel comfortable in, but that changes when they are in front of a massive beauty dish with flashlights.    

One prompt I said a lot was ‘Give me t-boy energy’. They would give me a puzzled look and say, ‘What is that?’ and I would say, ‘I don’t know, you tell me!’ and then people started doing their own thing and we would shoot.  

I see so much beauty and hotness and fun and confidence, and that’s what I want to honour with photography. I want everyone to feel like they can be a magazine cover. 

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