Fashion Week, New York

February 24, 2009

Models, tall models, skinny models, Russian models, French models…sounds exotic? Yeah, not so much. Covering fashion week in New York sounds like a pretty glamorous assignment but it could hardly be further from it.

Shooting fashion week has more in common with running a marathon than it does running a sprint. There are 8 days, some 75 shows in the tents, dozens more off site, plus preparation photos. We shoot the models backstage and the designers getting ready, we shoot the front row celebrities arriving and we shoot the show from the pit.

The pit could also be called the pit of despair. Imagine taking 200 photographers with all their requisite gear, cameras, laptops, ladders, monopods, boxes and cases, putting them in a space that realistically 50 photographers could work comfortably in. Throw in 14 hour days, little regard for hygiene and an open bar in the evening and you have a recipe for a sociological experiment gone awry.

I personally shot dozens of shows and filed hundreds of photos. The images after a few days begin to homogenize and making something different becomes a real challenge. As a photographer I am always trying to redefine my visual narrative and create interesting dynamic photos.

Enter my newest toy, the Sony DSC-T77. It is advertised at Sony’s thinnest camera and with a Zeiss lens it makes pretty impressive photos. Add to that the huge screen and the fact that it is totally silent, has an awesome macro mode, live screen for shooting off the hip, shoots in black and white with a wide exposure latitude and you have a powerful documentary tool.

It is a strange thing when a photographer pulls up a big camera with a fast lens, it tends to put people in a defensive mode, they know you are professional and think you might have some ulterior motive for taking the photograph. Pull out a little camera and they think you are just taking pictures, the subjects are much more at ease and working with the little camera is more fun. Kind of like Jim Young using his Holga, you are never quite sure exactly what you are going to get.

Photographers have always looked around them at what is available to them to best do the job. Many photographers like Young bring Holgas with them or a Leica or Contax G2. They use these tools to create a different kind of image, one that is different than their bread and butter cameras, their Canon Mark III or 5d Mark IIs with their L lenses.

I will be experimenting with this camera more and more (I am really enjoying taking pictures on the subway system here in New York as I ride back and forth to Brooklyn and taking photos out of taxi windows).

Ok, back to the marathon.

Click here for a slideshow of images.

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