If you’ve ever attended a large fashion show, you’ve seen… THE CATWALK – and – THE MOUSE TRAP
Sure, it’s not the official name, but it’s what I call the podium set up for all the photographers at the end of the catwalk. Cramped into a tiny area, you will find all the photographers fighting with their elbows for space and air. On several levels they try to get their lenses somehow pointed at the working models without being hit by the lenses from the shooters behind them. Some photographers arrive early, mark their territory with gaffa tape, and little squares and areas start to form.
As long as these photographers get their exposure right, they will all produce pretty much the same image, some might be zoomed in a bit tighter, but overall, all images look the same. So I’m gasping for air in between the local news guy with a beat-up Canon monster and the fashion blog dude with a tiny camera on a monopod, and I try to somehow get a decent shot, and all I could think of was: “They all shoot the same, why do I?”.
If you’re hired to create a show coverage for a specific fashion designer, sure, you will need to attend the mouse trap, it will give you the best chance to create the images the designer is after. But for a creative cover of the event, you want to be a smart mouse, and break out.
When I shot the Mercedes-Benz Fashion week, it took me 5 minutes, and I had enough. I left the gear mountain behind, and started walking around the room, trying to find better and more unique angles. If you do so, you have to be very careful, and remember that it’s not your show. Aside from the VIP and celebrity guests in the front row, many guests have paid a premium for their seats, and you don’t want to get in their way. Bigger shows are also filmed with several cameras, and you don’t want to interfere. Lastly, but just as important, you always want to keep the event organisers in mind. They are responsible for handing out the photo accreditations for the next event, so keep them happy! As a summary: You have to become a Ninja Shooter. If you do, you’ll find much more interesting angles and details to shoot, and not to mention a bit of personal freedom and air to breath.
The entertaining end to my story: About 15 minutes into the show, more and more other photographers followed my trail and left the gear mountain to find a different angle. So much so, that the now much more spacious press stage looked quite inviting, and I ended up shooting the rest of the show from the mousetrap again (now with space, no fighting elbows, and only a few photographers left to compete with). The best of both worlds!