Rikard Osterlund’s Variance Project

Variance was organised by Rikard Osterlund, Rochester based commercial photographer and lecturer. It was open to anyone mainly between 16-21 in Medway with an interest in alternative, gothic music and fashion, with Rikard reaching out to people at local youth clubs, high streets and online forums. The shoots took place in Medway, and one in Dungeness.

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Lisa on Dungeness beach

The idea was delivered via a series of photographic projects and workshops. The workshops introduced studio-lighting and took place in a derelict department store in Rochester last year, where the participants used different rooms to photograph each other or take self-portraits. You can view images from the workshops here: http://varianceproject.tumblr.com/workshops

With help from Rikard, the photographs for the projects were arranged by the sitter, who decided on the location, time and what they were wearing. Says Rikard: “Once we met at the agreed place, we would decide where and how to pose and I would start shooting – there was often a few different poses and compositions for each person. After the shoot we would talk about their style, interest in subculture (if relevant), and choice of location. I would also capture a few minutes of video of each person which I later overlaid the interview onto. You can see the current set here:  http://varianceproject.tumblr.com/.

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Neringa on the Esplanade, Rochester

“My ambition with the project is to give these people a voice and an opportunity to express themselves beyond the image, whilst also offering an opportunity (at the shoot) to discuss and reflect on their style. It’s particularly aimed at people ‘outside’ of the arts. The work of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation has been a real inspiration for me.

LIzzie at Chertsey's Gate, Rochester
LIzzie at Chertsey’s Gate, Rochester

“When I was their age, I refused to wear anything but black and even though my wardrobe and record collection has grown it is evident this time of my life had a big impact. Those teenage years are often the first time we really step away from our parents and begin to define who we really are, and this is often influenced by popular culture; music, movies and fashion.

Matt in The Watts Meadow, Rochester
Matt in The Watts Meadow, Rochester

“It is fascinating to see how the world has changed only since the 1990’s when I was a teenager – the word Goth and Emo are now used for cursing and no longer seem to hold the pride they did for me and my friends. Many of the people taking part in the project have highlighted how easily people judge them, when what is under the surface is rarely what they think. One of the girls loves One Direction, whilst another is committed to her local basketball team.

Remie on The Great Lines, Chatham
Remie on The Great Lines, Chatham

“There are no scheduled events for 2014 as all the workshops took place autumn 2013, but I am still looking for people to photograph – people of all ages, who visually express their alternative lifestyle through what they wear. They can contact me on the e-mail below and I can travel to photograph them at a location of their choice (within reason!) Once the project builds I am thinking about exhibiting it, but there are no concrete plans at the minute.”

To contact Rikard directly, email: info@rikard.co.uk or call 07990 516767.

To see his work online: variances.co.uk is the page dedicated to the variance project, at www.rikardosterlund.com you can see more of his personal projects and his official website can be found at www.rikardphotographic.com