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Rebecca Smeyne's Favorite Photos From The Year

We asked PAPER photographer Rebecca Smeyne to share her favorite photos that ran on Papermag.com in 2012. Below, she shares some of her favorites and chats with us about her year.

peggybunnymuseum.jpgpeggydogshow.jpgPeggy Noland out and about in L.A. from Peggy Noland's La-La Land: Out and About in L.A. with the Wonderfully Weird Fashion Designer and LA Boutique Dog Show is Brimming With Bizarro Fun


breakinparty2.jpgFrom Liturgy (Almost) Plays a Break-In Party at the Old Secret Project Robot in Williamsburg

cartier2.jpgCouple dancing while James Murphy DJs. From Cartier Celebrates Aldo Cipullo's Iconic "Juste Un Clou" Bracelet & New Exhibition, "New York City in the 70s"

patfieldbbq.jpgPatricia Field's rooftop BBQ was memorable. That scene is club-kid-oriented, drag queen-oriented.  Usually you only see these kinds of looks well after midnight.To be able to see those people outside, during the day, on a sunny rooftop, is great. It's just a different setting. And there were lots of hot dogs and wiener jokes.

From Patricia Field's Global Warming BBQ was a Big Weiner, er, Winner

pussyriot.jpgDancing at the Pussy Riot benefit. From Permanent Wave's Pussy Riot Benefit With Ad-Rock, Shady Hawkins, Heliotropes + More

pride.jpgTaxi driver with a pride flag. From Scenes from Pride 2012


sensationAmsterdam.jpgSensation party. From A "Sensation" of a Party in Amsterdam (and It's Brooklyn-bound)

refused.jpg Refused on stage. From Refused and OFF! Play a Small Greenpoint Club After Waterfront Show Is Rained-Out

devhynes.jpgDev Hynes. From Dev Hynes and More at Suzanne Geiss Company's Blasting Voice.                       

creativetimesandTomSachs.jpgCreative Time had a sandcastle building competition with artists in Rockaway Beach,  and the photos are so much more special now since that area was wiped out by Hurricane Sandy. One of the artists, Dustin Yellin, had his entire studio devastated. A lot's changed since this took place. This was a happy moment with the creative community and that area of the Rockaways that's recently become a hot spot for the creative community. It was also cool to see these art world big wigs just hanging out, mixing with the locals. Tom Sachs, who is conceptually brilliant, decided to dig a hole to China for his sandcastle. To me, that was art happening in real time. It was conceptual, physical and totally in the public eye. And then you have these local children coming up to him and admonishing him for using a generator. They were like, "That's cheating!" Seeing Tom Sachs get yelled at by 12-year-olds kind of levels the playing field. That was a fun day.

From Tom Sachs, Dustin Yellin and More Compete in Creative Time's Artist Sand Castle Contest

bronycon.jpg I found about Bronies through Andrew W.K. when I was doing an at-hom shoot with him for PAPER. I knew it had to do with My Little Pony, but I didn't really understand what Bronies were. So Andrew W.K. helped me understand them (and he wrote about them for you guys, too). There was a Brony convention in New Jersey a few weeks later and I went. It was fascinating. I'm always interested in subcultures. And Bronies and Bronycon are different than what you see at Comic-Con. Comic-Con is all comic-book characters, and people have always been into comic-book characters. This is different. To see people embrace something which really wouldn't make sense to an outsider is always interesting.

From Scenes From Summer BronyCon 2012

javast.jpgThe 18 Java St. farewell party. From Pictureplane, Dope Body, Mykki Blanco + More Bid Farewell to 18 Java St


fashionsnightout.jpgFashion's Night Out is always a crazy thing. This shot is a portrait of two girls I saw on the street who were all dressed up. To me, the most interesting thing about Fashion's Night Out is just the physical hordes of people who come out in the SoHo area. It gives people who are interested in this world a shot to go to parties at boutiques or party with the designers, who don't have a connections or know the right people. And, you know, it's also because a lot of stores are giving away stuff. It's just a big, bizarre thing and the events get weirder and weirder every year. It's a spectacle on so many levels.

From Scenes from Fashion's Night Out 2012

betseyjohnsonbackstage.jpgThis shoot was a highlight of my year. Only a handful of photographers had access backstage and most photographers just don't get that access. You're really getting a behind-the-scenes look at Fashion Week. It was also one of the shows that's just more over the top. Just in terms of Betsey Johnson's style and that brand's style -- the colors, the accessories, the frilliness. It's big. There were 100 looks. Most fashion shows don't have that many looks, that many models. There's also not usually a pig backstage. Normally at fashion shows you get to shoot first looks, the first outfits that go down the runway, and then you get kicked out. You only get a few minutes and you're competing with so many other photographers. But here, I didn't get kicked out.

From Betsey Johnson's 70th Birthday Party + Massive Fashion Retrospective

openingceremonylilkim.jpgLil' Kim posing for photographers. From Opening Ceremony's Epic 10-Year Anniversary Party

bushwig.jpgDrag performance at Bushwig. From Bushwig, Bushwick's First Annual Drag Festival


nightspa.jpgThe scene inside Nightspa. From Getting Steamy at New Party, Nightspa

princerama2.jpgPrince Rama's workout session. From Prince Rama + More at Nuit Blanche New York's Autumn Bowl

malingerniguvula01.jpgThis was taken at a Malingering Uvula party at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth. The space itself is stunning. I've never been anywhere like it in New York. You feel like you're in Berlin on the outskirts of town. The fact that the people who own Knockdown Center are putting on interesting performance art and installations with basically no budget is really impressive. They don't have any funding for help with promotions and the fact that they can make this stuff still happen and bring people out there is impressive. It's only a 15-minute walk from the Jefferson L train stop, but it's a very desolate area.

From Mac 'n' Cheese Butt Plugs + More at Crazy Dinner Party/Art Installation Malingering Uvula

triphouse.jpgInside Trip House. From "Trip House" Gender Blender Mixes Up Bushwick Nightlife

freshbasel.jpgfreshbasel3.jpgfreshbaselmattstone.jpgArt Basel was amazing this year. Villa Vecchia was a highlight of my year. It was this beautiful estate -- who doesn't like beautiful estates? -- and the Hole filled it with artwork. The Hole was promoting the artist Holton Rower's work pretty heavily in Miami this year. I liked the work just in the booth at the fairs, but to see it installed in that setting was really cool. The fact that they were having parties there as well was cool. It wasn't like the stuck-up gallery crowd. It was more of the young, New York avant-garde scene -- the people are struggling to get there financially. Young artists and kids are shacking up in roach-infested motels and putting on their craziest looks just to go out every night and be a part of that scene. That's interesting to me.

From Night and Day at "Fresh Basel" in Miami Beach

art basel pool parties.jpgFrom Scenes from the Art Basel Miami NADA Pool Party + More ... 

What were some of the crazier parties you shot for Paper this year?
One of the crazier things this year was definitely the Opening Ceremony Party. I've encountered a lot of wild parties and shows over the years, but this was different. Usually when you're shooting a celebrity, like Lil' Kim, someone so famous that everyone wants to get close to, there's some kind of barrier in place. But there wasn't. It was just me right up against the stage with all of these models, and fancy industry people freaking out over Lil' Kim.

The same goes with the Alexander Wang after-party, it was like Die Antwoord jumping out into the crowd among all of these famous fashion people.They were getting champagne sprayed in their face and really getting wild. I'm used to those kinds of settings, but not those types of settings with that particular crowd.

Do you like being in fancy settings like that? Or do you prefer more of the underground stuff you cover in Brooklyn?
I like variety in shooting things in general. But I think it's interesting to take a candid look at the more buttoned-up crowd, the museum crowds, the fashion crowds. Typically people shoot these things and it's posed and service-y looking. I try to get something a little more real than that. In terms of photography in general, that's my take, but I think it's especially interesting when it comes to these chic crowds who are used to posing. The big trick about it is waiting for the end of the evening when everyone has been drinking for a couple of hours, and then no one cares anymore. But I'm not trying to make anyone look bad. I delete things that I think are unflattering.

Do you ask people before you take their picture?
Not very often. It kind of depends on the situation. When I am shooting for you guys I'm asking less frequently, because you give me the freedom to publish more of the candid types of shots. But sometimes I like to get more portrait shots, like the Latex Ball, which I cover every year. I like to get portraits of the people on site and mix it up.

Are you ever like 'I'm so tired, and I really don't want to stay here and wait for this band to go on at 4 a.m.?'
All the time.

How do you find the energy to go out so often?
I'm usually fine once I'm out. Since I have a lot of freedom in what I shoot for PAPER and for other people, I'm usually shooting stuff that I'm already interested in on a personal level. It's not like I'm shooting a stranger's wedding or a corporate event. But at the same time I have trouble getting myself out of the house sometimes. You get worn out.

I saw a tweet you wrote about someone repeatedly trying to touch your butt while you were taking photos at a show. Is that something that you have to deal with often while you're doing your job?
No. I was shooting the band Japandroids at Bowery Ballroom and the crowd was mostly made up of these big, aggressive guys. It seemed like was just all guys in general; a crowd of entirely men. I'm used to shooting mosh pits, I'm used to that whole territory, but I'm not used to them trying to stick their fingers up my butt while I'm trying to do my job. They're just doing it because they're in a position to do it and know they can get away with it. The crowd is so heavy and moving around so much behind you that you can't know who it is. It could be one of several people. And when the crowd is really wild and moving around a lot, I'm just not trying to fall over while getting my shots at the same time.

It doesn't happen a lot. And it doesn't necessarily happen when I'm shooting, either. It's more about being in big crowds. I remember being at a temple in India once in a really heavy crowd of mostly men and teenage boys and I was getting felt up left and right. It's really just any situation where people think they have anonymity.

Do you ever walk into an event and think, 'This is going to produce great photos?' Or is it always a gamble?
You don't know. There's a huge element of discovery. You just have to go out there and explore and respond to things. In my work I get a lot of action shots, so I'm looking for people dancing and being wild. I gravitate toward people with crazy looks but there's also the quiet, solitary moments you can spot within the craziness.

What do you say when people say New York's not cool any more? Or that Brooklyn is becoming too much like Manhattan?
I'd say 'Go eat some mac and cheese butt plugs at the Knockdown Center.' Come to the jogging tour of Bushwick. There's more happening than I can get a handle on or go to. There's so much.

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