BEHIND THE LENS AT NYFW
By Irene KIM
We’re now close to the very end of this Fall’s New York Fashion Week and since the start, social media hasn’t been quiet - everyone’s been busy chatting about all the iconic looks, the up and coming designers, and the hottest models in the scene. Despite all the frenzy on social media, Fashion Week has never been something I particularly look forward to each year, but it’s been undeniably inspiring to see the extreme amounts of talent, precision and hard-work that is put into the entire affair. It’s always beautiful and extremely awe-inspiring to see how every detail in each show is so immaculately designed to display the designer’s vision for this season. Thanks to the many photographers capturing the entire event, even people like me who don’t have front-row tickets to these shows have a sweet in into the magic of this week; we all get to see the glitz and glam that comes with NYFW every year, but let’s flip the script for a second. How does a photographer covering NYFW take on this legendary week? We all know how models, designers, influencers, etc. take on the events because there definitely hasn’t been a shortage of content circling around those angles, but what about the photographers? How do they prepare for and survive this hectic week?
So to learn a little bit more about what this week is really like for someone working the behind-the-scenes, we sat down with professional photographer Alyssa Greenberg (@smallgirlbiglens) to get the inside scoop on what NYFW entails beyond the glamorous pieces that float down the runway. Alyssa has been in the fashion photography scene for a while now but she can still recall her very first Fashion Week. She was still in college when she was given the opportunity to shoot at about five different shows including Zac Posen, Alice and Olivia, and Vera Wang. This sparked an excitement in her - while she always knew that she loved fashion, her very first Fashion Week solidified her desire to pursue this career. Since then, she’s developed her signature style as a photographer and has definitely picked up some hot NYFW tips along the way.
Like all of us who are even remotely interested in NYFW, Alyssa starts off prepping for the chaotic week ahead by taking a minute to reminisce about the previous year - what styles were hot? And what was trending at the time? She likes to reflect on how her own personal photography style has evolved to better gauge how she can improve this next season. She gathers up all the equipment that she may need during the show, puts on a good face mask and tries to mentally prep herself for the week to come. Plus, every year without fail, she picks up a September issue of Vogue to make sure she’s up to date with all the style trends, popular celebrities, etc. Now while she brought me through the steps she takes to prep for Fashion Week, she notes that “there really is no such thing as being ready or getting used to Fashion Week - it’s just about doing the best you can to adapt and handle it each year.” So expect the unexpected.
Once Fashion Week actually begins, it’s a whole different story. There’s very little time to even take a minute to sit down and have a glass of water when you’re involved in the backstage works of it all. While she used to like to participate in the Fashion Week festivities by sporting a cute outfit, Alyssa learned from her years of experience that being a bit more practical about her style choices is the way to go - this basically means sneakers over heels (and lucky for her, sneakers have definitely become more fashionably acceptable). Although she may have had to give up on some of her heels and other fun numbers from her closet, the one thing she never forgets to sport is a great manicure - “most of the time, people are staring at my hands and camera more than they’re actually looking at me, so having a great set of nails is always a good conversation starter,” says Alyssa. She notes that there are always so many photographers always fighting to get a shot, that sometimes it’s just a plus to have something as small as a cute nail color to help her connect with a model, stylist, etc. backstage - it can help give her an edge over other photographers to get the perfect shot that she’s looking for.
Of course a good nail color can always go a long way, but what’s most important according to Alyssa, is standing your own ground. As a young female photographer with a smaller body frame, she describes how it can get difficult to capture a shot when she’s encompassed within a sea of chaos; because of the way that others may perceive her, it’s easy for Alyssa to get pushed around by other photographers, staff, etc. But over the seven years that she’s participated in NYFW, she’s definitely learned how to stay strong and better handle all the madness that comes with the event.
While she enjoys all of the exciting moments she gets to capture on camera, Alyssa’s true love for being a part of NYFW comes from her appreciation for fashion. “Most people are there just to capture the shot, which is completely fine - to each their own, but I love doing [NYFW] every year because I’ve just always had this genuine love for fashion. I’ll literally be backstage running my hands through different fabrics just soaking in each design and the whole process. That’s what really interests me,” says Alyssa. Photographing the events of Fashion Week may be Alyssa’s job, but it’s the actual artistry that goes behind it all that gets her blood pumping. Everybody loves doing things “for the gram” and I get it. I guess that’s the culture now, but maybe that’s why it’s always so inspiring (and shocking) when you meet people that don’t always do it for the picture - it’s so rare and beautiful to see people appreciating an art for its true intent of introducing something new into what can otherwise be a monotonous world.
IRENE KIM IS THE ASSISTANT EDITOR AT THE THE SUNDAY ISSUE AND MARKETING ASSISTANT AT SUNDAY FOREVER. WHEN NOT CREATING MAGICAL CONTENT YOU CAN FIND HER DINING WITH HER FRIENDS AT SOME COOL NEW PLACE EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. FOLLOW IRENE @_IRENEKIM