After entering a competition last week and finding out I had been selected, literally two days before the London show, I found myself sat on an empty carriage at 7:30 am on a Sunday morning. About to embark on a journey to photograph an event where only 200 photographers receive accreditation each year to be there and I was one of them. I mean money can’t buy you one of these things, that’s how much of an opportunity this was for me, definitely one I wasn’t going to miss.
Even though the train journey was just over 7 hours it seemed to pass by so quickly, I guess I was focused on what lay ahead, call it a mild form of teleportation if you will, although I traveled the journey it was as if 7 hours just vanished.
On arrival at Paddington Station, I made my way through the London underground, I would like to say I managed to navigate myself through it but I didn’t, thankfully I met some really helpful people on the way, in fact one was a nanny who was looking after the children of the sub editor from Vogue Magazine…………. Ahhhhhh I hear you gasp!!! Did you give her a business card? Of course I did!
Having a bit of a casual stroll up the Strand I could see Somerset house in the background. I had made it.
Walking into the Canon press area I was shocked. I have never seen so many photographers; the buzz in this room was defiantly get the job done and fast. 200 photographers all sat round a table that would have put Henry the 8ths Banquet hall to shame (nice one Canon). Each one of them teched up to the eyeballs all sat at laptops racing to get their shots out to the publisher’s………….crazy!!!!
One thing I will say is that Canon looks after their photographers, arriving at the Canon VIP lounge I was greeted with a glass of champagne, cheers Canon.
Having never shot a catwalk show before I managed to have a quick run through with the Editor of Professional Photographer Magazine Grant Scott who passed me on some sound advice. Top bloke top photographer.
After sinking a few coffees and having a mingle backstage it was time to make our way to the arena. I kind of felt a bit like Russell Crow in Gladiator about to go and brawl with the lions, obviously a skinnier version.
At the end of a catwalk is what known as the pit. A square small square platform on which the media are allocated selected spaces. It works on a first come first serve basis and the togs mark their territory by adding a small right angle on the floor with tape saying there name next to it. These were the lions I was about to do battle with.
Excellent I have the perfect spot! Until I heard “Excuse me I need to put my video camera right where your standing”. Its ok I can just peer over the top of him it will be fine I thought to myself. It turns out it was a complete photographers black out. Im never going to get the shots I need where I was stood!
As if by magic someone came out of the crowd and pointed at me and said look you can go here and made 2 other photographers make some room. So I had literally lost my space and upgraded to sitting slap bang in the middle of the catwalk with nothing between the show and me in the space of about 20 seconds. Happy days.
There was a quick run through of the show, obviously enabling the photographers to pop off a few test shots, set the white balance, check out the models etc. Right we were ready to go…let the show begin.
Lights dim down and the pounding of a kick drum starts hypnotizing the crowd to what’s about to unfold. Out comes the first model silhouetted by a floor to ceiling backlight she makes her way down the catwalk the above lighting following her as she glides towards us, she looked stunning, I almost forgot I was there to take pictures.
Click…..Click…….Click. There were no poses being performed at the end of the runway so you had to grab your shots selectively or just click away at absolutely everything and hope you got something. When shooting a model coming towards you there are so many elements that you need to take into account. You want to try and make the model and the clothes look as great as you can but this isn’t as easy as it sounds. The timing of the shots is where it’s at, the formula that worked for me was shoot on every left foot forward, I found that produced a decent pose. A moving subject is also hard to shoot especially when it’s coming straight for you. You have to be very fast on your focusing but if you focus on the body the eyes are pretty much on the same focal plane, using the central focal point on the camera I did just that.
The show lasted for about 15 minutes so you don’t have much time to grab the shots you need to get. Its all over in a flash(excuse the pun). A quick wrap up by the host and a cheer from the crowd as someone discovered a £500 golden ticket in their goodie bag and it was all over.
I now had 4 hours to kill before my sleeper train was due to leave Paddington Station. Hmmmmmm I think a nice pint is in order.