Monday, February 11, 2008

London Fashion Week AW 2008 Day Two

It seems like there are a lot of doors in hotels in London and a lot of them have these fire door stickers on them.

I woke up early today to photograph John Rocha's catwalk. It's the only catwalk I can shoot today as Andrew Majtenyi's catwalk is today as well. Majtenyi's catwalk is the reason I've made this trip to London. Hello magazine (the Canadian edition) is interested in photos. Thanks to requiring canadian content. A Canadian designer in London having a catwalk in the Canadian consulate known as Canada House. All we need now are RCMP mounties and beavers. What can be more Canadian than that?

It's that Jumper poster again.

It was 7:00 am when I got out of the hotel. I realized it was way to early to go straight to the Fashion tent so I took a walk around taking a few tourist type photos of the surrounding area. I noticed a lot of movie posters for Jumper around. The advertising budget must be enormous. The night I arrived in London there was a talk show with guest Jamie Bell talking about the film on the television in the Kings mediterranean taverna.

The significance of this movie is that I remember my friend William working on it a few months ago. He kept blabbing about how cool the movie was without really getting into any details. Possibly because he had a non-disclosure agreement with the studio but more likely he knew that I hate being told about movies in detail as it's one of my pet peeves. Whatever the case may be I wanted to see the film and see the work he did on it. After all isn't that what friends are for?

Ouch... don't want to climb over that wall.

Another London taxi

The Jumper poster up close

A single decker next to a double decker bus

Holy Mackerel! I'm so out of shape. I noticed myself panting on the way up to my fifth floor room. It's about 10 flights of stairs give or take a few as there were some split levels. The elevator didn't seem to be working. I have to say that it's not so much the amount of climbing that makes it difficult but the fact that the stairs are narrow. Imagine climbing stairs that is barley wide enough for you, now add into one hand a pelican case and the other hand a purple suitcase, then strap a photo gear backpack to your back. It's a bit awkward to say the least. The roach infested hotel with my room on the second floor was looking really good right now.

The hotel room

The top of the stairs.

Once I dropped off my extra camera equipment it was off to the fashion tent but first thing's first. Food. I stopped off at Waitrose to pick up a Crayfish and Rocket sandwich. What the heck is the "rocket" part anyway? I was curious. I ate the sandwich but wasn't that impressed. It was okay as far as sandwiches go but I think I like the Sainsbury sandwiches I've had before more.

Testing lighting and where to walk on the catwalk

My "Rocket" sandwich

John Rocha

The designer John Rocha

After the catwalk I had a few hours before I had to be at the Canada House. I would aim to be there at noon or at the very latest 2pm. The catwalk wouldn't start until 7:00pm so I had lots of time to get there even to get there early enough to take photos of the models getting ready.

Some garbage that had been tagged for being out the wrong time

The garbage notice

I made my way back toward Earl's Court station. It was where there was an affordable internet lounge. Last year it had been only £1 for an entire session. This year the rate had gone up to £1 for the first two hours then 50 pence for every hour after that. As I don't usually sit in front of a computer that long the price really hadn't changed for me.

Me, at the internet lounge

The hotel I am staying at (wide angle)

Canada House right next to Trafalgar Square

An old bus. Note: The rounded corners.

The doors to Canada House

Another view of Canada House

Trafalgar Square

Standing in Trafalgar Square

Andrew Majtenyi: The Preparation

The prep room

The catwalk room

Some free stuff

Jose Bass leads the team of make up artists

Make up and hair artists look on (other angle)

Prepping the gift bags

Looking around the consulate

A model shows the final makeup

Getting hair done

Adding makeup


Even the nails get treated

Andrew goes over the list of clothing to be shown

more hair...

more make up...

Andrew and Robert stop for a quick drink...

...then back to work.

Houston, we have a problem...

The model blends in with the background

Luckily I arrived early to see room we were going to shoot the catwalk in. Unfortunately getting anyone to pay attention to some of the technical issues for doing the photography was lack lustre at best.

Shooting the model coming in from the opposite end of the runway

The challenges
  • Dim lighting
  • short runway and small room = wide lens
  • dark catwalk
  • dark fire place in the background
  • mirror over fire place spanning wall
  • no where to shoot with an unobstructed background
The available light in the room was terrible. Doing some preliminary tests I figured I could shoot at f2.8, 1/60 if my ISO was set to 1600. The photos I shot at these setting still looked murky. The only way to save myself was to get more light. I wasn't getting any help in that department so I set up a few of my portable SB800s. While testing I was then told I could not use the flashes during the actual catwalk as it would disturb the buyers and press. I could see my cheque from Hello magazine floating away with those words.

Using Robert as a stand in

A bit better lighting but lousy background

The make up and hair team await the models' test run

The catwalk

Andrew pre-catwalk

"Why are they turning down the lights?"

Andrew Majtenyi: The Catwalk

I took photos using my flashes anyway since all the other photographers were using their flashes. Half the models didn't know where to stop on the runway or where to look. This automatically cut down the number of photos that I could shoot. It was a photographic nightmare.

Some of the attendees, Saskia Wicomb on the right

Andrew post catwalk

There were only two types of photos that I needed to get today. Photos of the catwalk and photos of Andrew. The catwalk was a disaster (as mentioned before) and the shots of Andrew were too candid. There wasn't enough time take Andrew aside and light him properly.

Ugh. I just wanted to go back to the hotel and fall asleep.

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