Covering London Fashion Week As a Photographer

About three or so years ago, on a whim I decided to head down to 180 strand in an attempt to take some streetstyle shots for my portfolio. I had never been before, I didn't know much about it but something told me to take my camera and go. So I did, I stayed up into the late hours of the night trying to figure out at as much as I could beforehand. I went alone, an uncertain and shaky bundle of nerves that barely knew how to use her camera.

I was too scared to stop anyone for photos so when I saw photographer grouping around to take a shot of someone I would run over to join. My photos were overexposed, blurry and angled awkwardly but that didn't matter. The blood pumping loudly in my ears and the excitement I felt knowing I was doing something for myself was enough to caress the goosebumps raising on my skin.

After my first experience I realised I wanted to cling onto the experience and do it again and so when that time came again, I went back even more excited and determined to make it work. This time I made a few connections with a few photographers I knew were going to be there. Some were even kind enough to give me the location of the bigger shows (f you are new to fashion week you'll find that during the women's fashion week shows will either be at 180 Strand the main hub or Fashion Scout and men's at Trueman's Brewery). However the bigger designers have their shows in different locations around London which only those attending, working or covering know.

At some point and crazily may I add, my work landed on the timeline of someone working at Refinery 29 in New York, little ole' me and my work making it to the states? I couldn't believe it when they asked me to cover fashion week for them and be paid to do so! I knew people got paid to do it but I didn't think I would be given the chance with the level of my work and with the gear I had.

The experience was amazing and I'm still so grateful but it taught me a lot. Fashion Week is fun don't get me wrong but it's not all glitter and rainbows. It's draining, it's stressful and it can really take it's toll on you mentally and physically. Having people to tackle fashion week with definitely makes fashion week so much easier and a better experience for me. I can't express how out of place I've felt at times during fashion week and as a result of that how lonely and exposed I've felt when doing coverage. I've found my little tribe that I love with all my heart and soul, running from show to show, cheering each other on so we don't give up and call it a day, lending each other our powerbanks. I look forward to those little moments.

There will be days that don't go well, days where you don't get the content you planned, the content you are meant to deliver so don't be disheartened when that day comes. We've all experienced it. Running to different ends of London day in and day out, with late nights of editing and 4 hours of sleep isn't for the fainthearted, trust me I learnt that the hard way.

Comparison can be a real thief of joy during fashion week so do not let it consume you. Being confident in your work and your gear is a must because the moment you start to doubt it no longer becomes fun, fashion week is meant to be fun. Although you are going to work have fun with it, meet people, talk, enjoy the fashion and environment! But also listen to your body, I've had days where I've pushed my body too far to try and get loads of shots and I've ended up regretting it later because I'm in so much pain.

Take breaks to eat, grab a coffee with other photographer friends and rest your legs if you need to. Being on your feet all day can be exhausting, especially if you're running around. February women's fashion week this year taught me a lot about myself in terms of the fact I need to learn when enough is enough, I tend to push myself too far to see results and it always ends with me being burnt out. Also don't feel bad for not knowing who people are. I'm still learning the who's who in the fashion industry and becoming more familiar with faces, just because you don't know who everyone is doesn't make you any less talented or worthy of being there.

My advice for fashion week:

  •  Talk to people: I have met the most amazing people and have started the most amazing friendships due to small talk. You'll quickly find how supporting the photography can be during fashion week but also how competitive it can be too. So again, don't be disheartened when you come across some bad eggs it's bound to happen.

  • Find your editing style, try different angles, look for details: there will come many moments where you and hundreds of other photographers are taking the same shot of someone but what will make your picture stand out? When pitching to publications why should they pick you over another photographer? What does your work bring to the table that's different?

  • Try find the @s of the people you take pictures of. A lot of the time people like taking the pictures that photographers take of them to post on social media which can lead to you gaining followers, likes and exposure! They may even want to work with you in the future, every picture can lead to a new opportunity.

  • You can find the schedule for all the shows on the fashion week website or fashion scout. As mentioned not all the locations will be there for the bigger name shows like Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger and Victoria Beckham but it does tell you the times so it can give you an idea of whether people will be around strand or fashion scout.

The bottom line of this post is to make you aware of the fact that as amazing as fashion week may look, it isn't always good. I've come home from fashion week in tears, exhausted and discouraged. But I've also come home from it motivated, excited and filled with joy. No fashion week experience is ever the same, every day is different but I can promise you it will make you a stronger photographer. It tests your creativity, your ability to push through your emotions and to keep going because at the end of the day you love what you do, photography.

If you tackle fashion week often, or have before would love to know how it makes you feel?

until the next post,
with love,

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