Phoenix Fashion Week – Wed. & Thurs. – The Disappointment and Shame

And now for something completely different, runway fashion shows. I like to mix it up a bit so when the Phoenix fashion Week shows are presented I usually enjoy covering them. It turns out there were a number of issues with this years shows.

To see more of my coverage of the Phoenix Fashion Week runway shows click the more link below.

I was excited to cover the Wednesday night “Fashionably Pink”  runway show presented by the folks at Phoenix Fashion Week. The show is a benefit for the Susan G. Koman cancer foundation and was held at the new Musical Instrument Museum.

Here is where some of the disappointment comes in, the Fashionably Pink show uses local celebrities and personalities as well as cancer survivors showcasing pink fashion designs so many of the models are not trained in walking the runway.  Given the fact you are using local celebrities and not runway models you would think a simple configuration would be best.

The Fashionably Pink show did not use a straight raised “catwalk” style runway, but rather had the models walking in a “plus-sign” configuration which confused the models, made for very poor photo opportunities and generally looked a bit amateurish and unorganized.

The lighting was awful which required skillful mixing of flash and ambient to even produce somewhat acceptable images. These facts may have been troublesome for the photographers, but what really counts is if the audience enjoyed themselves and felt like the money they spent purchasing tickets for this show went to a good cause. The problem with this attitude is there will not be any useful images to promote this show, or next year’s show.

There were lots of celebrities wearing “pink” fashions including Joe Lance, a judge from Mexico’s Next Top Model who was busy being interviewed for some TV show when I took this shot.

I really struggled to capture useful images at this show and wondered if I was going to have the same difficulties with the other runway shows. At least the night wasn’t a total loss because I was able to grab a cupcake with a big mound of pink frosting.

On Thursday the Phoenix Fashion Week runway shows were held at the fantastic Talking Stick resort in, wait for it, Scottsdale.  At some point I really hope the PHOENIX FASHION WEEK organizers decide to look for a suitable location in PHOENIX for the Phoenix Fashion Week runway shows. But I digress, on to the show.

The runway at the Talking Stick resort was set up outside with no tent or ceiling for the photographer’s to bounce their flashes from, which means direct flash with harsh bright light, red-eye and monster shadows. Unless you are really good at mixing flash and ambient light or you shoot everything with ambient light using high ISO you can expect to have some challenges photographing these shows.

The photo riser was so small it only accommodated about 6 or 8 photographers and 2 video cameras, with about 25 credentialed photographer’s and the 2 house photographer’s down in front I was forced to shoot 3/4 shots with a longer lens by shooting over some guys heads and between two photographers.

I did the best I could with my images, but there were many, many challenges to overcome. The ambient light had a bit of a color cast or tint to it which might look nice in person but doesn’t accurately represent the colors in the fabric of the fashions and can tend to make the models skin look strange.

All of the issues combined made covering this year’s shows very challenging as a photographer. Now I understand Phoenix Fashion Week doesn’t really need me there covering their show, in fact how does having me there capturing images help them at all? That is where a lot of the shame comes in. Shame on Phoenix Fashion Week for trying to manipulate the media by restricting access to areas around the runway, trying to “force” the non-house photographers to take pictures of all the shows attendees as they entered and not providing enough photo-riser space which forced the photographers to either stand on folding chairs (a safety hazard) or just shoot from the sides of the runway where the ushers kept telling us we couldn’t be.

Despite all the challenges I really tried to push through the problems and remain professional, capturing reasonably useful images.

In some cases the models looked bored or their faces were all broken out and overall the impression was that this year’s shows were suffering some serious growing pains.

I wasn’t really doing anything creative with my photography, only recording 3/4 shots of the models. I felt like I was standing in the back pocket of the guy in front of me, I was struggling with the lighting conditions, bad color casts in my images and trying to keep the shotgun mic from the video camera in front of me out of my shots.

After a while all my images started to look the same and I was getting a bit tired of trying to shoot between photographers and over the video cameras on the photo riser when some very cute young girl with what looked like a Canon T2i and a kit lens came up to me and asked if I had a spare battery she could use. I paused before answering, as the thought of the $65 dollar each price tag for the batteries flashed before my eyes and given the fact that I didn’t know this person or if I would ever see her again if I did help her by letting her use my spare battery. I just thought, “wow, how ridiculous is that to walk up to a complete stranger and asking them to borrow an expensive camera battery. Never mind you didn’t plan ahead and bring a spare battery for YOUR camera, or that the batteries are expensive and I don’t know who you are . . .

My response, “no sorry I just have the one for my grip.”

This was just turning out to be a really strange night. So strange that I even cut off this model’s hands and somehow think this is an acceptable image.

I’m going to have to say that I am disappointed in myself and the lack of creativity in my images, I mean after all is said and done, it’s up to me to make it work.

I’m not real excited with most of the images I captured, they are not bad, just not up to the level I expected of myself.

One of the other photographers there that night was very nice and seemed to keep a smile on his face throughout the evenings ordeal. I wish I had a better attitude about the way the night went.

I realized all my images were vertical and figured I should capture at least one horizontal image that night.

I wonder if the Phoenix Fashion Week folks realize that it doesn’t matter how sexy the model is, a screen-printed hoodie just isn’t fashion.

Or that it doesn’t matter how many college logos or politically correct saying you put on a screen-printed T-Shirt, it’s still just a T-Shirt and NOT fashion.

I’m sorry, but when you send a model out on the runway with a wide-brim hat and expect the photographer’s to get good shots where the model’s face isn’t some dark shadow with no eyes, well that just tells me the entire event was geared toward the audience, and you missed the mark on helping the Phoenix Fashion Week brand.

Think about it, are the shows held during New York Fashion Week geared JUST for the audience in attendance? No, not really they are geared towards the rest of the world that see the images captured at those shows, the fashions are talked about, written about, examined in detail for color, fabric, shape and what the next trend will be.

If you set up your show just for the “local” audience and a couple of “house” photographers you will always be considered “small time” local “fluff” and never be taken seriously as anything that matters in the fashion world. Just my opinion, but if you want to make a difference in the fashion world you will need to consider more than just “how” your show (and your brand) looks to the audience sitting along the runway.

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One thought on “Phoenix Fashion Week – Wed. & Thurs. – The Disappointment and Shame

  1. Your complaints are noted but Fashion photography borders of being a paparazzi now days. Everyone gets “Press Releases” to come and shoot fashion events and it’s amazing how many people will stand in front of you with their camera phone.

    It looks like you did a great job with what you had.

    ~ Al B. For

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