Backstage and behind-the-scenes photography is probably one of my favourite things to shoot. There’s a unique and intense mix of excitement, stress and anxiety backstage before a fashion show. You’re crowded into a tiny space with what feels like a million other photographers, hair and makeup teams, dressers, models and event staff with everyone up against the clock to get everything ready for the show. It’s exhausting madness but I love it and the cramped conditions often force you to find unusual compositions and ways of shooting which have led to some of my favourite ever photos.
I’ve been lucky enough to work at some outstanding events and shows over the last few years, in amazing locations like the Renaissance Hotel, The Freemasons Hall, The Intercontinental Paris Le Grand and Scenehuset in Oslo. Interested in getting into backstage photography? Here are a few tips to help you get started.
1. Be useful
If you’ve never shot backstage before then you need to start building your portfolio experience any way you can. Reach out to student or graduate designers, independent labels, other photographers or videographers and ask if they’d like some BTS shots taken during a shoot, at their factory or workshop or at a show. Or you could find small independent or online magazines who might be in need of content and offer to shoot for them during London Fashion Week - it may get you backstage access at shows, or if not, then you might be able to at least get some catwalk shooting experience and build from there.
2. Join the team
Each season there are numerous opportunities to volunteer at shows and events during London Fashion Week. As well as the official LFW events at the BFC space, there are numerous other ‘off-schedule’ or independent London Fashion Week shows and presentations all over the city, so keep an eye on social media and eventbrite and if you see any suitable events, reach out to the PR company or organiser associated and see if you can come and shoot the event (offer to send them the photos afterwards and you might get some exposure on their social media too).
3. Use your network connections
Remember it’s not just designers who need content - it’s models too!
Have you worked with agency models before? Reach out to them before fashion week and see if they’re going to be in any shows - they might be able to get you access or put you in touch with the show organiser. Also reach out to friends, family and work colleagues. It’s a small world and there’s always someone out there who knows someone who knows someone who might just get you in to a show.
Remember that outside of London Fashion Week each February and September there are other specialist events and fashion weeks throughout the year so keep an eye out and you’ll spot opportunities to get some behind-the-scenes experience. Good luck and I hope to see you backstage some time!