GSA fashion: catwalk, backstage and press call
About the project
I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it: I love being a fly on the wall – able to move around among a crowd, seeing shapes and ideas coming into focus. Observing other people at work, performing, being there but feeling detached and independent.
It’s this way with The Fashion Shows staged by Glasgow School of Art students every year: events I look forward to because I know for sure that I will photograph something I’ve never seen before. It’s always a surprise, a pleasure, and a privilege to capture the incredible talent, imagination, and skill on display, not only on the catwalk but also backstage.
While highly enjoyable, photographing fashion shows is not the easiest of gigs. Firstly you need sharp elbows to get a good position, however, because I shoot on behalf of the art school and students, I often get access to rehearsals and can capture extra footage there. It also helps me prepare for what will happen during the live show and understand layout and lighting. Low light and moving objects call for a considered approach to the technical aspects to get the right formula for aperture, ISO, shutter speed, and light balance. Flash is a big no-no for most fashion shows: it’s too distracting for the models and the audience. Lens choice is all-important as the subject is either walking towards or away from me, standing still for around three seconds in between. I’ve found that walking shots tend to show a garment at its best, but capturing detail when the model pauses is also a welcome addition to a designer’s portfolio. Designers want their garments looking sharp, and organisers want their event looking exciting and dynamic, so I shoot with multiple cameras and lenses to cover all bases.
The images in this story travel across a period of 15 years. I challenge the viewer to spot the older pictures and assess whether it’s the fashion or the photography that dates the image!