Monday, March 03, 2014

From the Trenches, Life of a NYFW Videographer. (A delayed post from Feb 2013)

Until a couple of a days before I fly out, I tend to forget how excited I am to see my "Fashion Week Family". 6 times a year, for about 7-10 days at a time,  I live with a group of people who have become my home away from home. We travel to New York, Toronto, Miami & Sydney together. Some of them continue onto London, Berlin, Paris, Milan, Moscow, Amsterdam and Aruba.

We are many cultures but some how we perfectly fit into a mix of stress, joy, happiness, tension and fun all in one. There are two parts of the family. The immediate: The crew of the company I work for and my extended: those other photographers, event planners, lighting directors, videographers, security to name a few, we all see each other for hours upon hours over days in different cities, showing that town the best of their local talent.

This season we were down a senior operator from Milan who contracted chickenpox. He is currently quarantined in his New York apartment. How frustrating for him. His duties are mixed in with the remaining crew, which means everyone is working long hard hours. My days consist of getting picked up in a car at 7:30am and finishing around 10pm, I'll be home depending on who is traveling in the car with me between 11-12 midnight. There are a few exeptions i.e.: shooting house on a major client meant a 5:30am pick up for a 6am call, I got home at midnight. However the next couple of days will be a little different. Whilst busy during the day, the 7pm show should be my last and I can enjoy a few more hours of sleep. Yay.

My Italian, French and UK counterparts fly into London the day Fashion Week NY finishes and start immediatly on London Fashion Week. From there they go onto Milan and Paris. No rest for the wicked.

There is a fashion week somewhere in the world every day of the week, and if not, a fashion related event is there in its place. Haute Couture was just on in Paris, but New York kicks off the fall season.  

This fall season was a lot of fun. I shoot the runway and I love it. It's the closest thing in fashion I have to being on a film set. Back stage is filled with a cluster of models, photographers, make up artists, hair stylists, back stage managers, PR, security, A listers, designers, assistants and egos. Lots of egos. Some good, some I would rather not deal with.  I find that patience is often a virtue, with the exception of one PR man who shall not be named. If you let people do what they need to do, they will make time for you.

With that said, the cluster of backstage is not my favourite thing to shoot. I also refuse to hound celebrities, I get my shot & I get out. Chasing celebrities is tacky and I hate it when people blur the line between media and paparazzi.

The show itself is fun to shoot. The media pit is something else. My first experience in the media pit in NYC was not my most favourite experience either. However, I have found that over time, getting to know everyone and learning who shoots for who, there is a heirachy. Those people get priority and as I shoot for the house, I often get a good position. I like all the house photographers and videographers. We work together to ensure everyone gets to where they need to be. With that said, some people can be a little forceful. Move your tripod or physically be sitting or leaning on you while you try to shoot. I've coped my fair share of lenses in the head. Moving is difficult and once the media are in the pit, getting in and out can be often impossible. The bigger the designer, the bigger the pit and the bigger the cluster.  The begining of the week is when people flex their muscles, it sets the heirachy for the week, but come the last show of the week at the tents, people are a little more forgiving and willing, unless it's Marc Jacobs (as per this week) and the media interest is beyond huge.

When the lights go down, the audience settles, a voice from the middle bottom of the pit will call out "ladies and gentlemen in the front row, please uncross your legs" (this is done because on camera having a random foot of a crossed leg from a size 11 mens shoe belonging to a member of the audience floating on the runway looks hideous and ruins the shot) The sound begins and so the show starts.  

Then the magic happens (mostly). The media pit quietens and everyone get's into a rhythm of zooming, paning, floating and clicking. There is peace in the pit, until a model walks in the dark (it's actually amazing how many models don't know where the light is, no light, so picture) or turns the wrong way so the accessory he or she is carrying can't be photographed. I'm not sure if this is not communicated with the models back stage but it should be if it isn't. Well then, you'll hear the disgruntled cry from the media pit. Videographers and Photographers alike are shooting for the whose who of Fashion. From Vogue to Everyone wants to deliver the best possible image they can of the look.

The Lincoln Centre tents boasts between 8-10 shows a day, there are almost as many off site too. We do this for 8 days straight and can you believe, that London Fashion Week starts on the last day of New York Fashion Week. London & Barcelona have Fashion Weeks on at the same time, Milan is next and last... is Paris. Glorious Paris which everyone who works it appears to love.

There is always more to share but I could end up writing a novel. My colleague was shooting a show when someone died in the front row, we've seen designers come and go, models rise, some slowly disappear (figuratively). I've even lost my cool during wrap up once a few years ago. It happens. But I wouldn't change it or the wonderful people I work with for the world.