Ulyana Sergeenko at Paris fashion week
After my first ever full circuit shooting the entire fashion month, here’s a look at the other side and how I feel about the whole thing.
Anna Dello Russo and a mob of her fans taking selfies on the steps of Grand Palais at Paris fashion week
Let’s not kid ourselves here, I won’t kid myself here, this sh*t cray. There’s no point tippy toeing around this, fashion weeks are simply insane. Street style is a circus, I’d even say it’s more than a genre, it’s its own industry. Add celebrities and paparazzi to the mix, it’s basically out of control.
There’s the crowds, a mix of “peacocks”, tourists, fashion fans and passer bys, they make the venue feel bustling, which is good, but they also make getting a clear shot hard, which is definitely not good.
Anya Ziourova at New York fashion week
The scrum is a thing I’ve not experienced til New York fashion week, sure at Sydney fashion week, when I pull someone aside to photograph, there usually are 5 or 6 other photographers behind me “stealing” my shot too, but that’s like a walk in the park compared to this. This above, now that’s a scrum, 3 layers deep, 50 or 60 photographers all getting the same shot, you ain’t seen no scrum, til you see a scrum like this.
Kanye West at Paris fashion week
There’s street style scrum and then there’s paparazzi scrum. It may look the same from a bystander’s point of view, street style photographers can be forceful, but we are never aggressive. I accidentally got caught in my first paparazzi scrum at London fashion week, a celebrity came out of a show, I don’t even know who, cos before I realised what was happening, a scrum was around me and I was being pushed and shoved one way, then the other. I got out real quick and have been really careful shooting celebrities ever since, because getting trampled on isn’t worth that half decent shot.
Elina Halimi at New York fashion week
Oh and the onlookers with their phones! You ask a girl to step aside, you set up a shot, you get your lighting just right, then someone with an iphone steps right in front of you to take a photo, then turns around to ask you “is she famous?”. It’s pretty hard to try and not strangle said person. Unfortunately this kind of thing happens a lot, so photographers yell lots of things at these unlucky ones, “hey dude, get out!”, “you stripe shirt”, “monsieur monsieur!” and the most crazy yet common one “Background!” is hurled at some poor soul who happened to be in the background of a shot. This poor soul usually never understands what’s going on and eventually moves away simply because they are being yelled at while looking very confused.
Pernille Teisbaek and Camille Charriere at Paris fashion week
The most dangerous thing of all is that we literally stop traffic. We all want that candid shot of someone crossing the street, waving a taxi down, so we quite literally swarm into the street with little regard to cars, bikes, buses and other large dangerous moving objects. New York drivers are the most obliging, Milan is relatively quiet, London and Paris on the other hand, are simply full of angry drivers. Sometimes we step out without checking, sometimes we forget there are cars coming up behind us, sometimes we run backwards in the middle of the street to get a set of shots. A few photographers have had their feet ran over by cars, I kid you not and all from this one single season.
So what do I make of this whole thing? To be honest I’m still not sure. What I’m sure of is how much hard work it was, how constantly exhausted I was, how it wasn’t all glamour and fun, but how the end results, the photos I got made it all more than worthwhile. And the whole circus, well, that’s what it is, like everything else in life, you have to take the good with the bad and simply make the most of it all.
February cannot come soon enough!
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