- Two Shutterstock press photographers told us what a day at London Fashion Week is really like.
- Covering up to four shows a day, they described the process as “frantic” and said it often comes down to “being in the right place at the right time.”
- They don’t follow a “great diet,” according to press photographer James Veysey – something that can often also be said for the models.
- Photographer Anthony Harvey told INSIDER there’s still pressure for models to “stay the size and shape that keeps them employed on the runway.”
London Fashion Week has officially drawn to a close for another season.
Running from February 15 to 19, the jam-packed schedule of shows and presentations saw poised-looking models grace runways wearing new collections from the likes of Victoria Beckham and Vivienne Westwood.
But what’s really going on behind the scenes is far more hectic.
We spoke to two Shutterstock photographers to find out what a typical day at Fashion Week is really like for both them and the models, and it was certainly eye-opening.
Anthony Harvey – a press photographer for 20 years who has shot models like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Paris Hilton, Cara Delevingne, and Winnie Harlow on shows like Alexander McQueen and Burberry – told INSIDER that a typical day starts with an early train into London, some backstage shots of hair and makeup, then a quick run to capture the front row before taking position to photograph a show.
Six shows in one day
“Before you head off to the next show, you need to file your pictures or at least the leading looks,” he added. “No two days are the same, you could be camped at one venue covering multiple shows, but on another day you could be racing across London to various venues for early markups and then across town somewhere else for a different show.”
That’s assuming he was allowed into the show, that is, as he said the accreditation process has become “a lot tighter.”
Meanwhile, press photographer James Veysey added that prepping equipment is a big part of the job.
“A typical LFW day would include first checking the schedule of shows in the day and then making sure I have all my gear for the day and all my equipment is charged, including camera batteries, flash batteries, laptop and WiFi devices,” he said.
He added that some venues are marked up for the photographers, but for others, they need to arrive an hour before to mark their positions “with gaffa tape and a marker pen” so that after shooting the front row they can quickly get back in position for the show.
“The main challenges are practical, to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right gear,” he said. “Also light. Some shows are very well lit, some are not.
“The most difficult are the bigger shows, like Julien Macdonald, where it’s not unusual to be in stress-position on top of a four-step step-ladder for half an hour attempting to shoot between people’s ears without knocking anyone or yourself off the ladder,” he added.
He said in an average day he could cover anywhere from three to six shows, depending on the schedule, and is then editing and wiring as soon as the show is over before covering the next. “It’s all quite frantic,” he said.
He added that the photographers “always have to be on our toes as there is always a possibility of the unexpected on the runway, be it a radical look, an unexpected front row arrival, or a protest.”
“Not a great diet”
Harvey tries to grab tea and a sandwich between shows, adding: “Any spare pockets in my camera bag are always filled with sweets and bananas.”
Veysey said he normally tries to grab sushi due to a gluten issue, but that his colleagues typically grab pasties from high street chain Greggs. “It’s not a great diet kept by us, many overdo the caffeine,” he said.
However, while the photographers are grabbing food wherever and whenever they can, it’s rare to catch one of the models stuffing their face with candy or pastries between shows. The backstage food tables often go untouched.
While Harvey said more recent years have started to see a transition towards more inclusive body types and diversity on the runway, he still believes models face enormous pressure to stay thin if they want to keep their jobs.
“The drawback is the pressure to stay the size and shape that keeps them employed on the runway, they have to conform to what the industry dictates on how they should look and the size they should be, which can’t be good for their health,” Harvey said.
Still, he added that while “it’s easy to forget that the models have long days like the rest of us,” he “could think of far harder jobs that people do that put more stress on the mind and the body.”
Instagram has created instant demand
The rise of Instagram has also made people more critical of the models.
Harvey said that the platform has made everything in the industry instant and “everybody then has an opinion.”
“An unhealthy conversation can fly around the world within seconds,” he said.
However, there have been interesting upsides to the world of Instagram, too.
“It has also helped create instant demand,” Harvey said. “Posts are put up and trends start instantly and high streets are quick to react.”
It also means the concept of what a fashion photographer is has changed.
Veysey said that while there used to be a few press photographers outside shooting street style, now there’s an entire industry doing it for online.
“Almost every show venue is deluged with 20-30 people shooting a variety of cameras, from pro DSLR to pro-35mm film to mobile phones, photographing people in interesting outfits, some who don’t go to the shows, but arrive and hang around hoping to be photographed,” he said.
“Fashion has always been fast-paced, [but] now with Instagram, it’s phenomenally quick, and means the industry has had to embrace it, with bloggers invited on the front row as they are seen to have as much reach as the traditional print outlets.”
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