Jonny Baker: Shooting Behind the Scenes at London Fashion Week 2019

All images and words by Jonny Baker. Used with permission.

When the fashion week season rolls around biannually my camera bags are firmly packed, hotels pre booked and London and Paris are in my sights. The fashion world operates by presenting collections for the following year ahead, so in September the Spring/Summer collections are shown and in February the Fall/Winter collections are presented. For a photographer covering the fashion calendar, a good knowledge of the trends, individual designers and key models can be important in knowing which shows to photograph, as the premier four fashion weeks New York, London, Milan and Paris all have shows overlapping and locations can be a fair distance between one another. Security is very tight at all shows with official press passes checked before entry is given to photographers.

Having shot London Fashion Week FW19 this past month, I began my application process for an accredited photographers pass a couple of weeks before the start date of February 15th 2019. The accreditation process can feel long and administrative but it’s a must for any photographer who wants to shoot backstage and front of house. Without an accreditation by the organising body, a photographer will be limited to shooting street style outside of the main central hub or outside each of the show locations.

The fashion week organisers generally offer the use of a photographers VIP lounge for accredited photographers. In London this season the photographers lounge included a SONY sponsored lens repair centre, free WIFI, desks and plenty of sockets to plug your laptops and chargers into and a very welcome coffee machine with a well known mineral water brands refrigerator stocked with bottles. The lounge is a good place to meet fellow photographers from countries all over the world, I myself sat down with Polish and Japanese photographers who were covering London Fashion Week for various publications.

Moving from show to show the fastest way possible presents itself as a challenge in large and busy cities such as London and Paris, I use a mix of subway trains, the occasional cab and more than often walking with the help of Google maps. To successfully shoot backstage for hair and makeup, arriving 45 minutes before the show start time is preferable to get your candid shots. You can then reserve your space front of house in the photographers pit by placing a bag or small steps to assure a central spot to photograph the models walking the runway.

When you finish photographing each show it’s a rush to the next one and en-route you more than often stop grab a coffee, pull the lap top out and begin downloading your SD cards to a portable hard drive. In terms of editing each photographer is different depending on lead times determined by which publication you are shooting for, online tends to demand far shorter lead times and printed magazines longer due to the nature of their sign off dates. For me now the European fashion weeks are over for the season and now I head to Tel Aviv Fashion Week beginning March 10th 2019.

Being accredited by the organising bodies of each of the four major fashion weeks, New York, London, Milan and Paris is really essential for a photographer to gain access to the runway shows and specifically the backstage areas where the models have their hair and makeup applied. The accreditation process can be lengthy and must be completed before the start of the respective fashion week.

I used a Canon 6D body and interchanged glass between Canon EF 24-70mm f4L IS USM and a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM. I do own both the newer 6D Mark ii and a Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L ii USM however my previous experience of fashion weeks with the constant moving from show to show, restricted space and hours on your feet I prefer the lighter kit and the reliable dynamic range of the older 6D Mark i.

London Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2019 was based around the British Fashion Council hub at 180 The Strand, London with the prominent designers using marquee locations within the West End and SOHO areas of London.

Jonny Baker is a Fashion and Editorial photographer who is known for his candid and reportage style. Jonny Baker has photographed fashion weeks in London, Paris and Tel Aviv and has his studio based in Tel Aviv.