Dressing Room No.1

Photographer, Sophie Teasdale shines a spotlight on actors’ most intimate moments in this behind-the-scenes photo book.

From Alan Cumming to Samantha Bond, photographer Sophie Teasdale, 27, has been snapping actors backstage for a whole decade. The photographic series will be available as a hardback coffee table book “Dressing Room No.1” from Friday 4th February.

Initially started it as part of my A-level photography coursework, I’d chosen backstage theatre as my topic after being inspired by some dressing room photos I’d seen of Joan Crawford, taken by Eve Arnold. Once I’d photographed backstage once, I just knew I wanted to keep doing it and it just naturally grew into a photographic series. It was never really a conscious decision, to begin with, for it to be a decade long project.

Sophie Teasdale

It all began in 2011. Wandering through the crumbling backstage warren of Darlington Hippodrome, Sophie dipped into glitter-drenched dressing rooms, clicking black and white photographs of showgirls wearing bratwursts as headpieces. It was The Producers, put on by local operatic society.

It’s usually quite chilled and the artists just have a laugh and chat to me about their day, kind of like being at a friend’s house getting ready for a night out.

Sophie Teasdale

The young photographer was studying for her A-levels at the time in a small North East market town and had chosen to focus on backstage theatre photography. Sophie says that she has always been into theatre, so it came as no surprise to her how much she enjoyed taking these photos, along with the desire she felt to continue the series after her studies had come to an end. She didn’t realise, however, that her project would span over the ensuing 10 years.

It’s a huge learning curve, and I’m just kind of making it up as I go! Once I got the idea to turn the series of images into a book I watched countless Youtube videos and read various articles to find out which would be the best route to take. I decided quite quickly that I would self publish, it seemed the most viable as I don’t have a huge fanbase like more well known photographers.

The longest part of the process was getting in touch with everyone featured in the photos, to check that they were all happy to be part of the book.

Sophie Teasdale

The following summer, determined to push it further, Sophie hit London’s west end, photographing behind the scenes on Abigail’s Party at Wyndham’s Theatre featuring Andy Nyman (Peaky Blinders), Natalie Casey (2 Pints of Lager and A Packet of Crisps) and Joe Absolom (The Bay), as well as What The Butler Saw at The Vaudeville Theatre involving Tim McInnerny (Blackadder), Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey), Georgia Tennant (Doctor Who) and Omid Djalili (Live at The Apollo). 

Over the past 10 years, Sophie has photographed many household names including Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who) Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), Charlie Hardwick (Emmerdale), Richard Fleeshman (Coronation Street) and more, all of whom feature in her book “Dressing Room No.1”.

In 2013 Sophie began working as a Theatre Technician and Stage Manager, on top of running a photography business, and so her series took a whole new route. Any time she struck up a good relationship with performers that she’d been working alongside, she would ask to include them in her project.

I co-run a media company called Von Fox Promotions, based here in South Tyneside; we do photography, filming and graphic design, so I’m definitely focussing on that at the moment. We do a lot of promotional work for local venues and theatre companies, which I thoroughly enjoy doing, but we’re also hoping to take things to the next level and create a short film within the next year or two. We already have an amazing writer and director on board, so that’s very exciting!

Sophie Teasdale

Head over to sophieteasdale.co.uk to purchase a copy of Dressing Room No.1. Available now to pre-order, and general release Friday 4th February.

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