Fashion Week – 2011
Winning The Image Battle, When You’re Out Numbered and Out Gunned!
Thanks to Laurence Yang, model and editor of Runway Weekly, I had the opportunity to attend several shows at Fashion Week. The venues were held at New York City’s Lincoln Center from Thursday, February 10th thru the 17th.
Anyone who is somebody in the world of fashion was there, along with movie and TV celebrities, not to mention practically every photographer in the world. I received first-hand experience of the “pack mentality”, as 100 photographers traversed the runway and maneuvered their way into position on the riser, a three-level platform designed to accommodate five small people, not the forty who now populate it. Needless to say, crowded does no justice in describing the experience.
When pushing the shutter button, it turned out to be the camera of the photographer next to you. Then came the ladders and stools. I am on the top riser, slightly left of the runway. I take a quick check through the viewfinder, happy to be greeted with an unobstructed view of the runway, until everyone from the front row to the back suddenly became basketball stars towering over me. Looking around, I notice everyone had the means of elevating their heights – except me!
Somehow, I was able to work my Nikon D3 with a 70-200 F2.8 VR lens between figures looming over on each side of me and crank off some shots as models began their flamingo walks down the runway. Lights came up, music shook the walls and the show was on – all of 15 minutes. Understand the dynamics – a 9 p.m. show commences at 10 p.m., for which we had to weave our way to the photographers’ line at 8 p.m. This is where we initiated in to being packed as a sardine with all our photo paraphernalia.
All in all, it was a unique and exciting experience. Men wearing high heels and dresses, models over 6’ tall, more real fur than in any national park, gratis bottled water, yogurt drinks, cappuccino, and of course, the latest in next fall’s fashions. I was only slated to attend the Thursday and Friday shows, 2/10 and 2/11, which was more then ample for a first timer. I was granted a unique opportunity to glimpse into the world of high fashion and come away with some memorable images.
But not at first, I found myself in enemy territory, out numbered, out gunned and total unfamiliar with the terrain. The first lesson I learned was never fall back, hold your position. You need a clear view of the runway from a frontal location. This can put you in the line of some heavy fire, however, your images are as important as the next guys. True some photographers and Videographers get preferred treatment and placement because of there long standing in the fashion world. Be careful of the con – photographer acting like someone he’s not just to gain a better access on the riser. Despite the few “ it’s all about me” types, the majority of photographers are easy to get along with and helpful. Now that your position is secured, it’s time to gain the high ground. Remember the stool and latter I mentioned earlier, well you need one. Small fold-up step stools are available from Bed Bath for a few dollars and are adequate for most people.
Ok, your holding your position on the high ground, you made it through the long enemy line to get access and now it’s time to firer away. Now let’s discuss your fire – power. Needless to say, one DSLR camera that you are totally familiar with and can operate in the dark. For best results you’ll be shooting in manual mode with Auto – Focus on. Your light source for the most part will be tungsten with a white balance of 3200 to 3400 Kelvin. ISO should between 600 to 800 with a shutter speed of 500 and the Apeture set about f5 to 5.6. These are suggested setting to get you started. Bring out the big guns unless you’re a V.I.P. ( Very Important Photographer) you’ll be further back on the riser and should have at least a 70-200 mm f2.8 lens, you need good glass if you hope to sell any of these images. In Fact professional writer and photographer Theano Nikitas suggests adding a 1.4x teleconverter. Last but not least is a good mono pod to keep everything steady and more comfortable along with an easy access camera bag.
You’re well armed and in position, now find your target, lock on and firer away. The War has just begun!!
What’s in my Think Tank Streetwalker Hard drive Camera Bag:
2 Camera Bodies: Nikon D3 and a D200 for back up
2 Lens: Nikon 70-200 VR and a 24-70
1 Nikon SB 800 and SU 800
Honi 5” shorty speed snoot
Lens cleaner, extra batteries, CF cards
Black Rapid “R” Strap with a Manfrotto 200 PL-14QR Plate
Gitzo Mono Pod with a Manfrotto 494 Mini ball head/RC2 QR Plate
Note: Some photographers used a 1510 Pelican Case which also doubled as their stool.