15 May Fashion Night Out Tacoma – London Couture
They are hectic, exciting, sexy, exhausting, exhilarating, and chaotic all at once. I’m talking about fashion shows. Sure, sitting out by the catwalk waiting for the show to start, everything seems normal, maybe even down-right boring, peeking to see when the models will start to strut their stuff. Well, the pre-show catwalk is the ying to the backstage’s yang. Ironically, the backstage is where I wanted to be to capture the Fashion Night Out event that London Couture was hosting. It was the busyness, the prep, the inside look into what goes into a fashion show, but at the same time, snag some seemingly calm images of the models before they hit the runway. I spoke with the owner of London Couture, Tina London, a couple days before the event, and was able to snag the backstage access. I knew there was going to be a herd of photographers there to click away on the catwalk, but if you know me, you know I’m always out to get the shots and the look no one else is getting or thinking of.
London Couture is moving into a huge, three-story building, as their business is blowing up at a dizzying pace. This is where they hosted the event, a kind of pre-open house. The building is in the middle of a remodel, so things have that half-finished look, which I think looks cool. The backstage area is a catacomb of rooms, hallways, and curtains. It almost felt like a game of Frogger, as I dodged models, MUA’s (hair/makeup artists), and coordinators as they whizzed about while I tried to take photos. Hairspray so thick in the air that there was a definite haze to the backstage area. I have a tendency to get right in on the action to get my photos, but I had to watch it, as one stray blast of hairspray would pretty much doom a $1500 lens, and those MUAs meant business, they where not going light on the spray. It was like a scene from Rambo, just swap out the heavy machine guns for dual whelding aerosol cans and you have a team of ozone eliminating assassins. There were four designers showing collections, each with their own set of models. The designers did multiple outfit changes for their models during their set, so that made things extra hectic during the show.
As it drew closer to showtime, the models were ready to rock and I was able to steal each one for a couple seconds for a super quick set of shots. You’d laugh if you knew how chaotic this area was when you see the shots, cause you just wouldn’t believe me. If you weren’t walking to and from you had your back against the wall to let people by. Space was a premium, and for a photographer a clean shot was a laughable thought. Leave it to me to determine the one staircase which everyone used to scamper between floors backstage was the best opportunity to accomplish the task. One by one, the girls came over, each getting about 30 seconds of camera time. That was the limit as we literally had to hold up traffic at both ends of the staircase. Between models, a line of people zoomed through the choke-point. It was a situation where I could have used two more assistants to hold those traffic signs at each end, like you see during roadwork. I can’t believe we actually pulled it of with all the time and space limitations, but these challenges make the photos that much more fun to make. Luckily I had Alice, my amazing, helpful, and patient assistant to help me make great photos possible in this kind of environment. This was not a place for a light stand, and without her operating my off-camera light, manipulating the light between each shot to create great light, these photos would have never been made. Once we got in a flow, I didn’t even have to direct her, she just knew where the light needed to be and moved in sync with my camera, as if my wireless flash remotes transmitted information to her as well (I kid, but she is really good at it). Like a dance, the camera and light angles have to be spot-on as variables change or the photos just suck, cause after all, photography IS all about the light, but we have the luxury of making good light when and where we want, it’s an awesome thing. We used a softbox very tight on our subjects which created that very strong and dramatic vignette to the photos.
On to the show, and I let the herd of photographers capture the catwalk as I hung backstage can shot a few pics. Hope you enjoyed the inside look into this event. Stay tuned for lots more photos from this past busy week!