OPINION: Punks & Goths – a beautiful zine about acceptance, freedom and individuality


A limited edition photographic zine has just rolled out of printers and throws an exciting and positive spotlight on a part of society that is often viewed with suspicion and fear.

“Punks & Goths” by Birmingham-based photographer Rizwan Ali Dar is a work that challenges stereotypes and prejudices experienced by people who dare to live their lives in unique and diverse ways.

A new photographic fanzine called ‘Punks & Goths’ – produced in Birmingham – celebrates individuals and groups whose stories are seldom told in a positive light. The zine features contemporary portraits of punks and goths, including the lyrics of the models, and celebrates their courage and styles.

Photographer Rizwan Ali Dar, 39, from the Sparkbrook area of ​​Birmingham, has long been interested in what he calls ‘the belly’ of the city in a positive and open way rather than the usual sensationalist images and headlines indignant. that mainstream society associates with groups that exist below the social radar.

Dar captures intimate portraits of her subjects and their styles

Addressed exclusively to I am Birmingham Of what inspired her to produce the ‘Punks & Goths’ zine, Dar said: Are as thriving and valuable as ours.

Dar’s publication explores themes of identity and acceptance, and celebrates the courage of people who defy convention in their quest to be unique in a world where conformity seems to be valued more than individuality.

Prejudice, condemnation and sometimes even violence are inflicted on people who choose to dress a certain way or who dare to follow a social culture frowned upon and referred to as a “subculture” by intolerant voices in society. Fear, outrage and stereotypes are directed against individuals or groups whose lifestyles are interpreted as “confrontational” by the establishment.

“It’s not just a subculture, it’s a beautiful lifestyle,” says Emilijian

Emilijian, whose portrait appears in Dar’s zine, writes about what the punk and goth scene means to him: “It’s not just a subculture, it’s a beautiful lifestyle.

Most of the individuals who appear in the zine express key ideals that emphasize identity, acceptance, and freedom of choice.

Tony, who was inspired to become a punk after his father – a skinhead – introduced him to punk music, writes: a mr. “

Another person in the zine, a woman called Jade who follows the punk scene, writes, “The feeling of being a part of the genre is amazing, it’s one of the most tolerant genres I’ve ever been involved in and I wouldn’t change. that for the world.

Saffiyah Khan, whose courage to stand up and confront EDL Islamophobic protesters in Birmingham, also appears in Dar’s zine. It highlights the double standards of class division where people of the upper classes are free to dress in any style they choose and make hypocritical speeches about “struggle and rebellion”, but when the people of the bottom of the social ladder do so, they are labeled or viewed with suspicion.

Saffiyah Khan, who fearlessly challenged Islamophobic EDL in Birmingham, appears in zine

She writes: “There are a lot of toffs playing disguises in their worst clothes and condescending political vomit on struggle and rebellion.

Dar’s zine challenges negative stereotypes and there is a real sense of joy and celebration in the selection of portraits for the publication.

Dar believes that in today’s era of mass media and rapid advances in communication technology, the camera is an important storytelling tool that can be used to present untold stories about misunderstood people and groups that exist on the fringes. of the society.

Speaking of an image-saturated world where images dominate social media platforms, Dar said, “We live in a world dominated by social media and images are the bulk of it, so I was inspired to tell the stories of our fellow travelers in life, whose lives are viewed with suspicion and give them a voice through a visual medium.

Distinctive punk and goth styles are captured in a raw and natural way by Dar

Dar also explained that photographers should “immerse themselves” when exploring another culture and documenting the subject with integrity and without bias.

He said: “As a photographer, I believe it is essential to tackle prejudice, ignorance and conformity in today’s climate where groups of people are too quickly polarized and judged because they do not s. do not integrate.

“To truly understand the stories of people who live below the social spectrum, you have to immerse yourself in a new storytelling experience.

“Plus, you have to really push yourself to see this largely unexplored, and sometimes closed, world without prejudices or personal fetters.

“Honesty and openness are absolutely vital. The material shot during the “Punks & Goths” sessions produced a variety of images which I hope will offer a more complete view, but also challenge and expand the views of the audience when it comes to these groups.

Photographer Rizwan Ali Dar, pictured here at a protest in Birmingham, takes inspiration from photojournalism

Dar spoke about some of the challenges he encountered while working on the project: “One of the challenges I faced was that it was a subculture and I had no contact, and as such, it was difficult to find people to participate in the photoshoots.

“The best place was social media. I messaged people explaining the show and what I wanted to achieve and if they wanted to have their picture taken, along with a little written interview.

This combination of warm and honest portraits, with people’s words, turns out to be engaging and draws the viewer. The door to a seemingly closed world opens.

Dar, who has already shared her photographic material on her social media page, decided now is the time to post some of her photos in a new format: “I decided this year to start posting the photos as a zine via my Birmingham Small Zines publication. .

“I felt it was high time that people had something physical that they could hold and see rather than just see it as a digital image on a screen.”

‘Punks & Goths’ is the first publication of Dar’s Birmingham Small Zines

The word “zine” conjures up images of cheap paper, ink leaks, and blurry photos. This is not the case with ‘Punks & Goths’. The Limited Edition A5 Zine, published by Dar’s Birmingham Small Zines, is a beautiful publication, with glossy paper but without any shine or distracting sheen, and the vibrant portraits inside the zine appear textured and atmospheric.

Dar’s choice to use a crisp monochrome for the project brings a raw, evocative quality to the images that also adds a warm vibe to the grainy urban locations where the portraits were taken. Dar’s decision to focus and focus primarily on the person portrayed in each photograph removes external clutter such as cars, moving masts, identifiable buildings or road signs, and more. By freeing the image from any intrusive information, Dar allows the viewer’s eyes to soak up the individual’s personality with each exposure. The tight cropping and framing ensures that nothing takes the eye away from the characters that appear in the series of photographs featured in the zine.

The tonal nuances of monochrome images free the imagination and inspire the viewer to stop and think, and most importantly, to empathize, discover and discover people we only record at the moment. periphery of our daily existence.

The photographs exude the retro vibe of the 1980s which gives the zine’s overall narrative a nostalgic flow as if the viewer has discovered a box of old photographs rather than a set of sparkling modern images weighed down by an overload of manipulation and cunning. photographic.

There are no photo gimmicks, no “sexing” of images, and no forced attempts to add emotional nuance to the subjects. People are photographed by Dar in a naturalistic, non-sentimental way, which adds a delicate layer of intimacy with a hint of documentary realism sprinkled over the footage.

“Punks & Goths” is a vibrant and intimate look at people often misunderstood by society

Dar appears to have an authentic relationship and level of trust with her subjects and each person photographed for the project comes across as a unique and dynamic person. Their personalities and styles show through in their postures and looks, and Dar also captures close-ups of shoes, jewelry, and badges, which adds depth to their distinctive identities.

Each person is photographed without bias or tabloid sensationalism. Eyes, lips, hands and expressions are captured with exquisite affection that draws the viewer. The people in the pages of the zine do not seek or invite pity or sympathy from the viewer, all they want is to enjoy the right to exist without fear or judgment.

While browsing the images in this remarkable fanzine, the viewer is encouraged to look at other human beings who dare to live outside the norm, and to read a little about their hopes and aspirations, and in this journey through the images and the words to realize that diversity, individuality and uniqueness are things of wonder and beauty.

This zine makes you see the outsiders of our society, and seeing them accept them. These are souls whose courage to live life their way inspires us to embark on our own fearless dreams.


‘Punks & Goths’ (priced at £ 5) is limited to 5o copies and can be purchased at this link.

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