Fashion Week: No Second Take – Part 2
By Jasmine Lord
Like theatre, in Fashion Week, there is no second take. If a model stumbles, or I miss my shot, it’s not good. But then you have to shake off your mistake and move onto the next one cause there are many shows in a day.
At one point in New York, I remember counting that I had shot over 10 shows a day! Luckily, at the time, they were all confined to the Lincoln Centre. At the Lincoln Centre, we’d have three to four runways within the venue that would hold various capacities and host various setups. This would enable set and lighting teams in each theatre to have a little time to prep for the next show while the next designer bumped in. I, among other media crew, would be busy shooting each show. At the beginning of the week, each publication or company would come in to “mark up” their space on the media riser. While it was mostly adhered to, sometimes adjustments would be made in different shows if the designer brought in a new crew with them. So I’d have assistants holding spots for me in the next show; alliances were made with other photographers in case you got delayed and they’d ensure your spot was held. The only team that never had to worry about their spot was the main House Photo and Video Team who were hired by the designer to cover their event. Sometimes I was the House, sometimes I was not. At Miami, Sydney and Toronto Fashion Weeks, we were exclusively the House team. In New York, Milan and Paris, it was a designer by designer basis. Then, after a long hard day at work on the shows, there were the after-parties. They were so exciting at first, we felt part of something really fun and exclusive.
Some crew members at Fashion Week are legends: either photographers, lighting designers, those that call the show, even PR. It pays to be nice to the PR. Even those that treat you like poo. One minute someone in PR will look like they are standing around doing nothing but holding a clipboard and feeling important (and treating you like poo) and the next thing you know, they are someone important and you might regret getting mad at them for being rude a few years back). Kindness is a big deal when people are tired and cranky, it goes a long way. I saw some incredible talent come and then go on to new and exciting things. I also saw some incredible designers stick it out and others leave or face financial hardship. First Miami lost its key sponsor and then the shows didn’t happen.
Miami was my favorite. Swimwear, South Beach, The Raleigh Hotel, stunning women in dream bikinis, the dream team of crews, later starts, everyone was in a good mood, including the models.
But some gigs are too good to be true and Miami Swim was just that. The budget certainly wasn’t there for a big video team and several years have passed since we last graced those sandy white beaches of South Beach. After five fun years of calling Toronto my office twice a year, Toronto suffered lackluster attendance in Sept 2015 and March 2016 and unfortunately had no shows in October 2016. Rumors are that a new company has stepped in to reboot the shows. It will be a great thing for local talent and I wish them all the best. Fashion Week in New York has moved since my first day which coincidently was their first day at the Lincoln Centre. The organisers eventually faced problems at the Lincoln Centre with local residents; the shows have moved twice and now you’re likely to be running around from show to show, not unlike Paris and Milan.
While the whole experience is one that I will treasure, I have hung up the gauntlet so to speak. Fashion Week, like any production, are long days, often running for 8 days straight. Shows start around 8 am and finish at 10 pm for some.
As media crew, it’s taxing. We’d shoot a show and then head back to the production office, drop off cards and cameras and see our editors pull all-nighters to get the shows cut and out for the next day.
Living on 5 hours sleep a night is very hard on the body and the job is so unique that there isn’t a governing body to ensure that everyone gets enough rest. For some of us, it was 8 days and then home. But for many of my co-workers, it was 8 days, onto a plane, to the next city and repeat. My co-workers would do this for over a month straight. No days off. I remember a time when a co-worker explained that he hadn’t had a day off in over 90 days. The after-parties suddenly are no longer enticing and sleep becomes a rare commodity.
Would I go back and shoot Fashion again? Absolutely! There are things even now upon writing this article that I miss…. but not just yet. I’m enjoying the mental break, my sleep and exploring new and exciting things.
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