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Monday, February 3, 2014

5 Things Only Fashion Week Photographers Understand

photo pit
New York Fashion Week begins in two days.  I am getting ready to hunker down with the International Press Corps to shoot the best of the collections for you from the photographer's pit.  20 Years ago, I started with dressing Isaac Mizrahi's show from the other side of the runway.  In the years since then I worked behind the scenes as a tech, garment and embroidery designer.  So what have I learned in my last six seasons from this vantage point of the catwalk?

Why "Uncross Your Legs" is a demand for visibility (not a sexual suggestion).  

The VIP (and seat fillers) sitting in the front row can mean the perfect shot of a fashion show for publication, or wasted disk space.  Anyone who has the privilege of sitting there should have the basic courtesy to keep their legs out of the way.  The photographers in the pit will not be shy in reminding them of this, even calling out celebrities directly (ahem, Mr. Simmons) to comply.

How 4 square feet is ample work space for 12 x 250lb photographers to shoot from for the next 14 hours.

Personal space is an urban legend in these parts.  The pros know how to arrange, stack, squeeze and contort themselves to accommodate everyone with a lens.  One of the big rules of Richard Renda, the unofficial King of the Press Corps, is if he can fit a fist in between two shooters, then they are too far apart.  Why he's my hero?  His other rule is that everyone with a passion gets a shot.

Why your team consists of a turtle and a pelican.

The quickest way to give away the fact that you are a poseur?  Asking what a turtle or pelican is.  Your turtle is the collapsible plastic stool to give yourself extra support.  Your pelican is the hard case you store your most precious equipment in.

Why bloggers are the Devil's spawn.

Yes, among other titles, I am also a blogger.  A fact that I must keep under wraps because the latest generation of wannabes have ruined our reputation as a whole.  They invade the pit wearing tulle princess dresses and attempt to shoot shows with their phones.  (If you can make a call with your camera, you are not a photographer).  Even worse, they stick their iPad up in the air, oblivious to everyone who is there to do a job. (I'm happy to pay anyone good money for a slingshot...)

Fashion blogging used to be about an alternative editorial voice against a corporate run media. Fashion Week used to be about supporting the latest work of talented designers.  How did it all turn into #selfie-fest?

How to work a 21 hour day, standing up, carrying 100lbs of equipment on your shoulder, on 2 hours of sleep and no lunch...

Many of the guys in the pit have been doing this for over two decades.  While they may not be dressed in designer clothing themselves, they are more knowledgeable about fashion and design history than all of the new generation of personal "style" bloggers put together.

I thought I was relatively young and flexible.  I snag a second tier riser spot when I can so I can kneel or even sit for a show if I am lucky.  The old pros?  They wouldn't dream of it.  No complaints, no griping, then sprinting with their gear in one arm and clearing a path with the other to the next show.  True warriors.

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