What NYFW Taught Me

All+of+the+models+from+Leanne+Marshall%27s+Fall+2016+collection+strut+their+stuff+on+the+runway+at+the+end+of+the+show+%28ANDRONIKA+ZIMMERMAN%2FTHE++OBSERVER%29
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What NYFW Taught Me

All of the models from Leanne Marshall's Fall 2016 collection strut their stuff on the runway at the end of the show (ANDRONIKA ZIMMERMAN/THE  OBSERVER)

All of the models from Leanne Marshall's Fall 2016 collection strut their stuff on the runway at the end of the show (ANDRONIKA ZIMMERMAN/THE OBSERVER)

All of the models from Leanne Marshall's Fall 2016 collection strut their stuff on the runway at the end of the show (ANDRONIKA ZIMMERMAN/THE OBSERVER)

All of the models from Leanne Marshall's Fall 2016 collection strut their stuff on the runway at the end of the show (ANDRONIKA ZIMMERMAN/THE OBSERVER)

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By ANDRONIKA ZIMMERMAN
Asst. Photo Editor

Seven fashion shows, five days; sounds like fun, doesn’t it? You’d probably imagine meeting Kendall and Kylie Jenner and countless other celebrities while getting to see the next season’s hottest new trends. Picture this: you rush to the A train to get to Chelsea Piers at least an hour before the show begins. As you arrive, you realize you’ll be crammed on a small riser in between dozens of other photographers, mostly middle aged men all sweating under the hot spotlights next to you, gross.

(PHOTO BY ANDRONIKA ZIMMERMAN)

(PHOTO BY ANDRONIKA ZIMMERMAN)

But at least you finally made it into the shows you’ve been seeing all over snapchat and social media. Finally, it’s your chance to show off what you do best to the world around you. But as a wise man once said, there is never any triumph without downfall. You’ve spent hours photographing all of the gorgeous gowns you see before you, and as you playback your 976 images, your stomach drops. They’re all gone.

It’s an instant fight or flight reaction. With your heart in your stomach, pulse thumping and salty water building up in your eyes, you glance around at the professionals and attempt to compose yourself. After all, these photographers won’t cry like a baby over some lost pictures or spilt milk; a professional perseveres and shoots the rest of the show.

With anxiety in full force, I’ll admit that I broke down in a childish hysterical outburst after the next show when my newly taken pictures didn’t seem to save either. I had been shooting all week without a problem, what had gone wrong? Mascara poured down my face the entire car ride home and I shook my head in defeat. Welcome to New York Fashion Week. It doesn’t sound so glamorous now, does it?

[quote_left]First off, I was a fish out of water.[/quote_left]

But, there must have been an angel over my shoulder throughout that day because when I plugged my SD card into my MacBook pro, every picture I had taken showed up in beautiful vibrance and sharpness across my desktop. Photographing NYFW taught me more than I ever have learned before about precision, luck, love for the sport, and the perks of being a photo editor for the Fordham Observer. Fashion photography during fashion week in New York City certainly is a cutthroat business.

(PHOTO BY ANDRONIKA ZIMMERMAN)

(PHOTO BY ANDRONIKA ZIMMERMAN)

First off, I was a fish out of water. I was crammed in between the house photographer for IMG Models telling me “NO, you can’t stand there,” Telemundo, an online publication based in Bulgaria, and countless other photographers for other outlets shooting over my shoulders and above my head. There’s a certain hierarchy of photographing fashion shows. The IMG house photographers are at the top of the food chain, then comes the designer’s photographer, and after that, major fashion publications like Vogue. My size was my advantage, I was able to squeeze in between photographers where bigger, more professional men couldn’t fit and I even got to learn a thing or two from the big guys; the nice ones will always offer advice on what settings to use.

I came to the realization that photographers who did this for a living had been working 12-hour days, not to mention they’ve been doing this for years. They looked at me as if I wore a big ‘Hello, my name is ‘INEXPERIENCED’ sticker on my pink polo sweater. I watched as they folded over to stretch and knead their sore backs and I started to feel guilty for the minor irritation creeping up in my spine. They did this day after day, show after show… all i could think was how lucky I was to even be a part of it. It was intimidating to say the least but by the end of the second performance, I knew the lingo and the routine; I felt like I could walk the walk and talk the talk. I was a virgin to the fashion world no more.

[quote_right]If you can handle the stress of it, the opportunity to take pictures of models on a catwalk is a photographer’s dream.[/quote_right]

The pressure of working side by side with the crème de la crème was unimaginable. Looking around at the super zoom 400mm telephoto lenses that needed a monopod to support the weight, I felt inadequate, to say the least, with my measly 105mm. How could I rationalize that? I didn’t understand how the lights went on and these photographers started shooting perfectly, so ready for what was to come; I on the other hand fiddled with my camera’s ISO, aperture and shutter for at least a minute before my settings were up to par, and anything can happen in a New York minute. With every show, however, it took me less and less time. By the end of fashion week I came to the realization that though a more expensive lens would have helped, it wasn’t about my equipment, but how well equipped I was to handle every factor put into shooting fashion week quickly and still end up with beautiful photos. This experience has plunged me so far deep into a new world of photography, gave me an amazing portfolio and left me with knowledge I can bring with me anywhere I go to further my career.

So, fashion week, you’ve come and gone. What an experience it was to say the least. I was launched into a world of professionalism I knew nothing about, but as they say, ‘fake it till you make it.’ By the end of the week though, I can say there was nothing fake about it. I realized I had all the knowledge, I just learned everything about how to apply it. If you can handle the stress of it, the opportunity to take pictures of models on a catwalk is a photographer’s dream. The most exciting part every day was getting home and importing my photos to feel the gratification of the art I had produced. Till next season, #NYFW.