How to Shoot Backstage at Fashion Week Without Any Experience
If your Instagram or Facebook page has anything to do with fashion and style, it’s a no brainer to realise the perks of being able to shoot backstage during fashion week. Whether you’re a blogger, photographer, journalist or just a straight up fashionista, posting fresh off the runway allows for high-quality and on-trend content that’s set to get you some serious traction. But there’s a hook – getting access behind-the-scenes has its challenges. To say it bluntly, unless you have connections, strong fashion week experience or an Insta account that has a five digit number of followers, your chances of missing out are relatively high.
Here are two things you need: Ground work and a little hustle. Tick those things off, and you’ll find yourself behind the scenes, even as a complete novice. I happen to know this from experience. When I first started, I had barely had any followers or existing work to back me up. What I did have, was a camera and a love for the scene.
I’m coming up to my seventh consecutive year of backstage photography (and now videography) and I happen to have picked up some hacks along the way. Keep reading if you want to save yourself some hassle and shortcut your way to getting that exclusive fashion coverage.
1. Warm up your lens
No one gets their big break without having done some ground work – you need be able to present a selection of pieces that showcase some previous event coverage. If you’re a photographer, have a high-quality Facebook album ready. For videographers, be prepared with that one solid clip. Like I mentioned earlier, I began by tagging along with a friend to a small emerging runway.
You want to be on the lookout for local artists and university kids who are revealing their talent for the first time. Events like these can be found out at fashion institutions or on FB. Get in contact with the organisers and say you’re happy to shoot voluntarily – they won’t say no!
2. Know your dates
Preparation is the magic word. Do some Googling and familiarise yourself with the fashion week schedule and highlight the shows you’d want to get into. Give yourself a mental note that your photography/videography folio has to look ready at least eight to ten weeks out from the event. Remember this timeframe because that’s your golden window to start sending your interest out to prospective labels.
3. Score a media pass
The next step involves getting your photo/video credentials. Jump on the website of the fashion week you are attending and scout around for a ‘media’ section. You’ll be expected to go through a mini application process and provide evidence of the amazing work that you’ve done. After this, sit tight and wait for your ‘go’ signal.
4. Reach out
Once you receive that confirmation e-mail granting your media access, celebrate! But be aware that this only allows you access in the media pit (shooting IN FRONT of the runway) and not backstage. Getting the VIP treatment requires more effort. This is the part where you’ll personally start reaching out. For most part, enquires go to PR managers via brands’ contact pages. But if you really want to stand out, don’t do what every Jess, Lisa and Sally does – avoid using e-mail and find other avenues to get attention. My personal favourite is liaising via Instagram and Facebook. Seems unprofessional, I know. But because these kinds of requests don’t typically come through this avenue, the chances of getting a reply is much higher.
Here’s word-for-word message that I sent to a featured designer at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week:
My name’s Felisha and I’m one of the accredited photographers/videographers at the MBFWA Resorts Collection. I’m reaching out as I’m interested in doing a behind-the-scenes video for the upcoming show.
Happy to give you guys the footage, along with an edited 1-min video. Here’s a BTS clip I made for an upcoming Australian label:
I’m a big fan of your line and would love to play a part.
Thanks and looking forward to fashion week!
5. Play the waiting game
Once you’ve done your rounds, follow up on pending replies. Let your tone sound assertive, but not pushy. Once you’ve covered our bases, it’s up to PR to get in contact with you, so sit tight for a reply. You won’t always get to ‘yes’, but know that every approach will get you closer backstage. This five step process is the same method I use to get behind the scenes today. If you don’t get approved the first time, go back to step one and repeat.
Felisha Mendoza Mina is a multidisciplinary creative, teaming up with brands across Australia, North America and Europe. With 6+ years of experience across Graphic Design, Creative Direction, Videography, Photography and Marketing, she takes a highly integrated approach to media and communications that uses a breadth of technical and analytical skills to help industry leaders look better, work smarter, and create with efficiency.