One of the first things that helped me get my start as a Key West photographer was Fantasy Fest. People in costume, laughter, and creepy things fill the streets of Key West the last full week of October every year. Everyone and their brother becomes a photographer for the week, so the real challenge becomes getting photos that others don’t. You walk the streets hoping to catch that glimpse of something unique happening, and to tell the story of what is going on.
When I first started attending Fantasy Fest back in 2011 everything was all about the creativity. It wasn’t about wearing as little as possible, with absolutely no thought in what went into the costume. My first costume was an oversized B-boy outfit with a sparkly Tutu. Yes at 31 I was wearing my first ever tutu, and then realized why it’s so normal for people in Key West to wear one. I wasn’t a photographer at this point, and was just in it to emerse myself with good times, and hopefully some cell phone photos to capture the nights. I started to see a photographer here and there, and then when doing the locals events started to see the photographers whom I would rub elbows with down the road.
This year we were hit with Hurricane Irma one month before Fantasy Fest kicked off. A Category 4 Hurricane hit the Florida Keys and left quite a bit of work ahead of us. The festival had changed into the hands of Nadene Grossman Orr of We’ve Got The Keys. She was already on track to bring the Festival back to the creative side, but now she had to bring it back after a major storm. This year was different with her too. She added a great group of creatives under the direction of Marky Pierson and Wonderdog Studios, including myself, and this is what you see before you! A rebuilding, a celebration, and a fresh start for Fantasy Fest in Key West.
What I aim to do with these galleries, is show you what a photographer enjoys seeing during Fantasy Fest. The galleries you see represented are ones that capture what Fantasy Fest is about: Creativity, originality, and FUN. That three letter word you can still enjoy, while being cool and creative at the same time.
Key West Photographer Mike Freas is a freelance photographer based in Key West. All of these images are property of Freas Photography. For editorial use only, please email email@example.com