Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A packed day of shooting

Mending the tracks just outside my room

I woke up early today. To be more specific I had been waken up by the noise outside. I was in a hotel room next to the train tracks, known as the tube in London. Not that the rumbling of the train woke me, as the tube service stops around midnight, but rather workers doing upgrades to the tracks. It was around 3am. I could hear talking and welding. It was at a volume level that reminded me of someone watching TV in the next room.

I was still in a mode that consisted of being half asleep to alert me if the the roaches I had seen on Friday night made a second apperance. I was feeling a bit paranoid that they'd be crawling around and laying eggs as presents for me to bring back home to Toronto. I suppose it was because I wasn't in a deep sleep that I heard the construction workers outside. Well, since I was up I thought I'd go to the window and take a few shots.

outfit by PPQ with nice mittens

Eventually I fell back asleep. I got out of bed in time to get to the BFC tent to see the PPQ catwalk at 11:45am. The big shows, or at least the shows to see today were Christopher Kane and Julien Macdonald. Kane, a newish and upcoming designer who has had the experience of working for larger more notable designers, now has his own label. From the rumours of last season his collection didn't do too well. I thought the outfits were quite stunning with all the little rings (see last season). So much for being a trend predictor. I'll just stick to the shooting.

The claustrophobic Christopher Kane show

The Christopher Kane catwalk took place in a basement. It was the main TopShop venue. For a photographer it was terrible. The ceiling was low, there were pillars in the way, and the place for photographers to stand was really small. I ended up getting a real crappy position for this show and gave up trying to shoot around other photographer's heads while not getting any other obstacles in my shot. I couldn't even see what the model was wearing below the waist most of the time let alone get a clear shot of the shoes.

(click picture to make larger)

I ended up moving to the back corner of the room trying to make the most of this dismal situation and proceeded to getting crowd reaction shots. I took a panoramic photo which is comprised of six photos and stitched them together so you could get a better idea of how jammed packed this venue was (see above).

The Gharani Strok catwalk back at the BFC tent

In contrast the Sinha-Stanic show was better or maybe because I manged to get a better position. I was on the floor in front of the walkway. The problem with being at this angle was that depending on when you shot the model you risked the chance of getting light coming in from behind them giving you lens flares. I managed to get a few decent photos.

Despite photographers being packed like sardines some of us are still smiling

In the photo above it looks like we're packed in. Actually this pretty spacious compared to other shows. Note the elbow room that Enzo has while he reviews photos on his camera.

Designed by Sinha-Stanic


my wide angle POV of the catwalk

Despite the cramped TopShop venue or maybe it was because of the cramped venue I bumped to Sibel during the Ann-Sofie Back catwalk. She recognized me from last season. She had moved from London to Istanbul and was back in London covering fashion week. Avid readers of this blog might recognize her as one of the people that stopped off at McDonalds for food inbetween catwalks during last summer/spring's season.

Sibel finds me in the crowd of photographers

I had met Sibel last season by meeting another photographer. We were travelling on the fashion bus between catwalks when Derya, the other photographer was running out of camera battery power. I despise proprietary batteries for this reason. That is, being stuck somewhere with no chance of getting additional power, this is why I love AA battery piles, I always carry a number of charged batteries that will last the day. It was the last show of the day, Todd Lynn I believe, and I had a spare charge battery on me so I lent it to her.

In the end we never got in and my big shot that night was to paparazzi Armani on the street. I've emailed Derya that I'd be in to shoot fashion week this week. She shot the Erdem show yesterday. A show I missed as you needed invites to get in.

Ever needed that extra pocket space? Ann-Sofie Back's got a solution.

The big show

Keep in mind that the above catwalks all took place between roughly 11:45am and 5:30pm. After those shows I intentionally skipped the Amanda Wakeley and Marios Schwab shows at the BFC tent to get to Julien Macdonald's show to set up before 7:30pm. It was located near Hyde Park Corner, a tube station, in the very posh Hilton hotel ballroom. I thought I'd try to avoid the hardships that came with shooting last season (climbing up the scaffolding) and mark my spot early.

Discoballs were sprinkled around the room like small planetary systems

Enzo and I arrived roughly two hours before the scheduled time and were still hard pressed to find good spots. The spot I had last season was actually taken by another photographer. "Good luck to him", I thought. There was space at the very back where we could sit on a giant fireplace mantel. Unfortunately the photographers in front were on ladders trying to get height over the video cameras in the front row. The great spot sitting down turned out to be a crumby spot. I noticed that there were more video cameras this year.

In the end my spot was worse then last season in that I had to balance myself with one foot on a end of a banister the width of three centimeters, the other foot on some scaffolding. My feet being about a meter apart from one another. It wasn't an obvious position so most photographers passed on this shooting option.

The plus side of this is that I had both hands free to use to operate the camera. I suppose the downside is that if someone fell over onto me I would have went flying into the ground about a meter down. (trivia: more people hurt themselves on short ladders than tall ladders maybe because short ladders seem safer so they don't take as many precautions).

Naomi Campbell starts off the catwalk with applause

When the show finally started and all the photographers were in their shooting position I found myself blocked by a photographer who had placed a large flight box in front of me and was standing on it. The box was about 80 centimeters high and could probably be used to smuggle a small child across the border. This would include the child and a large air tank (think of Ocean's Eleven - the remake). On top of that the photographer in front of me had a flash with a dish the size of a small wok. It was like standing behind two heads stacked on one another.

Standing on the banister/scaffold I couldn't get the height to shoot over him and if I could get the height I'd be stopped by the ceiling made by the scaffolding that was the floor for the lighting technicians and gear above. This meant that I had to lean my body out and around the photographer with the only support being my shin on the scaffold. My shooting area became a small window between the wok guy and the photographer clinging to the scaffold in my last year's position.

For a few minutes this was quite easy. After about a half hour it was like having your arms out at 90 degree angles holding a telephone book (this was a disciplinary thing they used to do in a school I went to as a kid). I made a mental note that I should take more yoga and do more exercise in general to be able to shoot these shows easier in the future.

I didn't see any PETA people tonight.

I liked these strips of sparkle material

The finale dress

Julien Macdonald and Namoi Campbell

The Hilton hotel ballroom after the catwalk

A neon sign in the nearby Hard Rock Cafe

After the catwalk I was soooo tired. There was a small party happening across in the next building at another fancy schmancy hotel called the Metropolitan. The hotel was a place for designers to showcase their work in rented rooms on the third floor. Tonight was a meet and greet or boozing and dancing night. Enzo and I found that the place was a bit loud (volume wise) and didn't really want to stay.

Girl licking my earlobe or food and quiet? I must have been really tired becuase I picked the food and quiet. Navigating the party crowd with all my photographer gear was pretty difficult. I didn't want to whack anyone with my camera bag.

In the end Enzo and I ended up in Chinatown where we found a Chinese restaurant that permitted smoking. Enzo had requested a smoking friendly restaurant so he could light up after the meal. In London they are phasing out smoking in restaurants later on this year (june? July?).

Fortune cookie packaging in the UK

Enzo Peccinotti looks a bit dubious after I tell him he's going to be on the blog.


Anonymous said...

Did you and Enzo end up at the Four Seasons for the duck?

BagelHot said...

No I never made it back the the Four Seasons. I'll have to go on the next trip to London.

It's too bad they can't FedEx the cooked duck to Toronto.

Anonymous said...

You know, it's funny... After a closer look, I realized that (for me at least) none of the models are very attractive (...which to ME at least is ironic).

Even more interesting is that I find the PHOTOGRAPHERS are actually more attractive in this case...

Go figure...

BagelHot said...

RE: The photographers are more attractive

In the end fashion week really should be about the clothing and not so much the models. However they go hand in hand. Great clothing makes ordinary people look good and good looking people look great.

Something that is hard to show in pictures is the way models move. A good model tends to float on air.

As for photographers being more attractive than the models... sounds good to me.