A Look At Fashion Week From 2 Ft. Square

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© 2008 Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Oh, sure everyone around the world is digging on the latest designers work, letting us know what to wear in the next year.
The models, the tents, runways and celebrities. Very glamorous.

Heck, what will I do with my Chuck Taylors?

Let’s take a look at the photographers bringing you all of this imagery.

For the most part these shooters walk into a situation where you have a pole position hierarchy determined by your affiliation. Luckily the folks we spoke with are Getty Images shooters so, they get pretty good positions. All of that in a 2ft square area to roam around in while working. They get to show up early to mark that spot, and wait while the inevitable delay occurs before showtime.

In the big Tent shows, with designers such as Betsy Johnson or Michael Kors, there may be as many as 200 photographers vying for the shot. Now there is a main group who hit all of the shows around the world, of about 20 shooters. There are about 3-4 women in that group. A small clique, but they are thrown in the pack with the rest.

About 1300 attendees hit the Tents. Then there are the medium venues called Promenades. The smallest called, Salons seem to be the most fun for the shooters and designers as the pressure isn’t quite as intense and everyone can flow a bit easier. The spotlight isn’t shining as brightly.

And you won’t see the flashes going crazy in general; these folks are shooting existing light and depending on the kindness of the lighting designers, hoping that spotlights are not the order of the day. The shooters seem to dread the lighting designers bringing a “Prince of Darkness” dramatic feel to the runway. But pros as they are, they always get their shot.

With 6-7 shows a day, they each shoot about 7000 shots a day.
Using 4gb CF cards for the most part, JPEGS are the mainstay allowing the 6-10 editors on site to quickly sift and post the photos from each designers show.
No time, and no need for RAW files.

Shoot a show, pass in the CF card, move to the next show, pass in the next CF card, and get the last downloaded CF card back.

Whew.

They generally don’t know which show they are shooting till they get the assignment email each day. Front Row (celebs), Runway, or backstage. Each shooter is prepared for any which way but loose.

What’s in the bag?
DSLR and back up body
4 – 4gb cards
Extra batts
70-200mm
300mm
1.4 converters
Strobe.

Have to give a shout out to the assignment editor, Julia. Tough job to be sure.
Each shooter has their strengths. And she knows where to send them.

Each photog we spoke to may shoot the same event beautifully with full coverage, but the paths they took to get there are quite varied.
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© 2008 Mark Mainz/Getty Images

Mark Mainz has been shooting Fashion Week for 5 years. His favorite shooting situations are quite the opposite of the dog pack. Preferring a one to one with celebrities, he’s been able to create some amazing portraits whether he gets 2 frames or 20 minutes of their time.
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© 2008 Mark Mainz/Getty Images

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© 2008 Mark Mainz/Getty Images
Mark and Terry Hatcher

While he was shooting cast portraits at Sundance, he worked with 2-3 lighting setups, with NO assistants. Wow. And he does shoot RAW while in the studio.

With Albert Watson, a fellow Scotsman, as one of his prime influences, he finds that his Scottish accent seems to help with the sessions. In this country anyway.
I wonder what it does for him in Edinborough?

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© 2008 Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Frazer Harrison has been at this game for a few more years, after starting out as a tech. A total pro, he is a photojournalist at heart. He states that he is a” dog of all trades, master of none”, but there is heart in his work. With a special affinity for entertainment, he says,
“(I’m) witnessing a part of life, I never imagined I’d be a part of.”

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© 2008 Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Well, he is a big part of that world as he has covered the biggest red carpet events and photographed the crème de la crème of global celebrities.

As a lad his turn to photography came as a trip to a stately mansion at age nine, with instamatic in hand, produced a competition winning photograph.
That sealed the deal for him, and the path was set.

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© 2008 Scott Gries/Getty Images
A slightly different take on all of it comes from Scott Gries. Coming from the world of capturing punk bands in the clubs, he retains the unique eye of an observer on the editorial side and a portraitist in his other life.

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© 2008 Scott Gries/Getty Images

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Gael Garcia Bernal
© 2008 Scott Gries

In this years Fashion Week, he has been covering not only the Salon and Promenade but also the backstage images that give you the sense of the Unzipped world of fashion shows. Preferring to travel by subway (it’s faster) he brings another element to the same assignment as the others.
Calling Eugene Richards his main inspiration in photography, once again we see a deep visual sensibility in the photographers we meet.

Each shooter has their strengths
This is just a glimpse of the hard working shooters covering this event. They are pros, working a job, and guaranteeing the shot.
They don’t have a lot of sympathy for the Tourist, defined as the non-pro working the same gig, but enjoy camaraderie with their brothers and sisters in the trenches. And from what we’ve heard, that 2 ft square space you get should be kept fresh. Stay away from curry the night before, wear plenty of deodorant,
And get the shot.

We’re not saying “let’s salute the brave men and woman behind the scenes”. Just have an idea of what goes into the Fashion Week photographs you will be seeing this week and for months to come.

Cheers!
Damon Webster

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