by Andrea Vittorio Castelli
Being a fashion show photographer is very tiring, much more than you could imagine.
Let’s took a look at a “day in the life” of your average fashion fotographer. During a fashion week, they can work up to twelve hours each day, in aggressively competitive conditions where every photographer must shoot their best moments to sell a photo and get press office approval.
This has always been a competitive sector, but never more than now. A fashion photographer’s work has been transformed; above all, they now need to be as fast and efficient as possible for both magazines and online press. Once there were only the photographers standing at the end of the catwalk, at the special platform reserved only for them. Now they must jostle for space with video-makers, bloggers, and social media workers, as long as they have a camera. Freelance photographers, on the other hand, are people (called runners) who literally run into the agency with memory cards and deliver photos in a short time. A lot of photographers now just use their iPhones to shoot, that’s why a lot of professional photographers feel frustrated when they are using maybe a €5000 camera.
Anyway, the agencies (like Getty images) have at least two or more photographers who share the fashion shows of the day, they have their workstation at the end of the catwalk on a platform where the photographers stand. Then photo agencies sell photographs, often to magazines, newspapers, advertising companies, event organizers, etc. The photographer, therefore, lets the agency deal with the sale, but they have to be fast: the competition is intense!
During the shows, taxis are not easy to find and photographers usually move from one place to another on foot, carrying their heavy equipment in their backpack. They travel by subway to avoid street traffic. When they can, they go by scooter or bicycle or any fast vehicle, because they have to get the perfect shot before their competitors. Photographers generally know each other and respect a sort of hierarchy in positions, based above all on the importance of the agency they work for. But they can also work directly for the brand because the most important brands have their own photographers.
Another category, which has grown in recent years, is the “street style photographers.” They photograph people dressed well or in an eccentric way outside the fashion shows, like for example celebrities, bloggers or people who do not even enter the fashion shows but love being photographed wearing fashionable clothes because they are inspired by the new collection of the season
Despite all this competition, some photographers have their own business. In fact, they are usually hired directly by newspapers or agencies, and a magazine can pay a lot of money for a famous photographer. Newspapers, especially online magazines, use these photos to get their readers inspired and sometimes copy the looks. It seems that street style photographers now create trends, fashion icons and are almost as important as the fashion shows themselves because often the real fashion show takes place outside the show.
Nowadays anyone can take a picture. But just a few good photographers are left, so don’t despair, young photographers. There is room for you in this amazing but stressful profession!