London Fashion Week AW20February 20, 2020
Another season, another packed schedule. When you’re a photographer during London Fashion Week there’s no shortage of events, shows, presentations and street style to shoot. I wasn’t officially shooting for anyone this year which felt a bit weird, but it meant that I could be a bit more experimental and try out lenses I might not normally shoot with - there was a welcome return for the good old Helios 44-2 lens this season which still produces some lovely images with a really unique character and it’s legendary swirly bokeh.
One place I always make sure to visit is Fashion Scout every year. I shot my first ever season of London Fashion Week when I was on their team back in 2017 and it always feels like seeing family when I’m there.
I shot my first photos of this season there backstage before Agne Kuzmickaite’s presentation with some beautiful, colourful creations on show. It was also a chance to give my new full-frame set up a test drive - I recently upgraded to my first full-frame camera, a Sony A7 and was delighted at the results I got from it, especially with the vintage lenses which really shine on a full frame sensor.
Other backstage highlights at Fashion Scout included preperations for the DB Berdan show with some really interesting extra-terrestrial inspired makeup and prosthetics, and sleek and angular designs at the FAD and TwoPointTwo show.
I didn’t make it to the BFC space this year but did get the chance to shoot in some interesting new locations - I went to Edeline London’s film-noir inspired presentation on stage at the Apollo Theatre, and shot Apu Jan’s stunning catwalk show (complete with live band!) in the majestic surroundings of the ballroom of the Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden. Every space has it’s own quirks and challenges and I think it helps you as a photographer to experience shooting in different environments and lighting conditions.
Takeaways from this season
I need to get one of those little foldable steps. If you’re shooting in the pit there’s just no way round it - unless you’re prepared to arrive an hour before the show to get a spot in the middle (which you still might get moved out of if you’re in somebody’s pre-reserved spot) then you’re going to need all the height you can get to get over all those other cameras for a clear shot. I missed out on a ton of shots this year because of someone’s elbow or shoulder obscuring the shots which was frustrating.
I was bit more prepared this year in terms of looking through the schedule and figuring out what I wanted to shoot first and then reaching out for tickets and passes, but I still think I left it a bit late in terms of the on-schedule shows, so next season I plan to be much more proactive in terms of RSVPs and reaching out for press access.
I was also reminded that constraints can sometimes be a good thing. During the Pam Hogg show, which was absolutely rammed as usual, I was stuck behind a wall of other photographers in the pit and had to move off to the side of the catwalk where I could get a clear view of the show. The advantage was I was forced to get creative with my compositions and ended up with some of my favourite shots of the whole season, particularly one where the model was turning to go back up the catwalk and looked right in my lens as I was taking the shot. The best thing was I was using a manual lens and I nailed the focus!
More expensive isn’t necessarily better. I’ve been desperate to get my hands on the legendary Zeiss 55mm f1.8 lens for the A7, but actually I was blown away by some of the images produced by the humble Canon 50 f1.8 this season so I’m not sure I need one after all. Sure, it’s not probably not as sharp wide open as the Zeiss but, when stopped down to F.2.8 and smaller, this thing really is delightfully sharp and detailed and has probably been one of favourite photography purchases and at £100 vs £700 for the Zeiss it’s definitely worth a go.