Fashion week is all Ubers with tinted windows and red carpet treatment for those attending the shows, but, for the photographers on the streets, backstage and sweating it out in the runway pits, it can be much less glamorous.

Finding work and getting published is highly competitive, so elbows to the body, people jumping in front of your shot and an overall attitude from your peers is not uncommon. But on good days, there’s a camaraderie that exists behind the flashes and general Fashion Week insanity. Like any artist, photographers have their own style and rituals and sometimes in between chasing after neon stilettos, we share our secrets and learn from one another. (Just don’t sit in my spot, dude.)

We caught up with seven talented shooters and had them open up about their work, as well as the ins and outs of Fashion Week:

Leila Jacue

Leila Jacue

Instagram: @leilajacue

Where are you from?

Bilbao, Spain.

Where is your current residence?

NYC.

What do you shoot with, and how would you describe your photography style?

I usually shoot with a Canon Mark III camera and prime lenses. I would describe my style as cinematographic, clean, natural and rock ‘n’ roll-inspired.

What are the biggest challenges for a fashion photographer?

For me, the biggest challenge is to believe in what are you doing and not to be a slave to the trends and others’ opinions. Although it’s great to have your mind as open as possible, you really need to love what are you doing, otherwise it can get a little frustrating.

The fashion industry and fashion photography is always changing and there are great new photographers out there all the time, so you need to be focused on what you really want to do and be happy with your work.

You shoot both in digital and 35mm. What do you love about each and what are the challenges of each?

I shoot mainly in digital, but I occasionally work with a few film cameras, too. Visually, it’s getting harder to tell the difference between the two since there are a lot of digital filters which mimic the look of film. So I think it’s mostly something that makes a difference for the photographer.

I like to shoot in film because I need to be really focused in the moment. I don’t take more than two shots of every subject or moment in film, so it’s very challenging, because you can’t control all the aspects; you never know exactly how the pic is going to look. In contrast with the digital cameras, where you can control every aspect, it’s great not having that much control sometimes. In a way, it makes you more free.

Brian Green

Brian Green

Instagram: @brian_william_green

Where are you from?

I was born in Michigan and grew up down south.

Where is your current residence?

Brooklyn.

What do you shoot with?

I use a Leica Monochrom with a flash.

What is Fashion Week like through the eyes of a photographer?

Well, for me, Fashion Week is like shooting fish in a barrel. My day to day shooting is very candid, whereas at Fashion Week people expect to be photographed, which is different to how I normally shoot. But that’s why I look for what I look for in my subject matter: they have to be interesting beyond their style.

What do you look for when shooting on the street at Fashion Week?

Mostly, I look for people that I find interesting in the face and their body language toward everything. Style was not the initial thing that drew me to someone.

Your photography style is unique compared to other photographers, at least at Fashion Week. Will you continue to shoot street style portraits?

I shoot every day in Manhattan and I’m more interested in how the people I am photographing are acting. I would not consider myself a fashion photographer in the slightest, however fashion in some way plays a role in the lives of the people who I am photographing.

Paige Campbell Linden

Paige Campbell Linden

Instagram: @paigecampbelllinden

Where are you from?

San Clemente, California.

Where is your current residence?

Brooklyn.

What do you shoot with?

For my street style work, I shoot with a Canon 1DX using an 85mm 1:2. For editorials, I focus on using medium format film with my Hasselblad.

What is Fashion Week like for a photographer?

Edit. Shoot. Edit. Sleep.

You shoot in both digital and analogue. What are the major differences?

The difference has to do with a fine art aspect I tend to have in my imagery. The Hasselblad somehow gives you a whole new look that you can’t replicate with a digital camera. When shooting my personal work, I shoot with both and I always end up enjoying the work that is done with my analogue cameras: 35mm and medium format.

Digitally, you can shoot endlessly, as with analogue you take your time and plan your shots specifically. It’s a whole other level of detail. Take a Polaroid first, make sure the lighting and settings are right, then after that you’d better hope the roll comes back from processing just as you shot it.

Silas Vassar

Silas Vassar

Instagram: @silasvassarthe3rd

Where are you originally from?

Memphis, Tennessee.

Where is your current residence?

Do or Die Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn.

What do you shoot with?

I shoot mostly with my Canon 6D and 50mm lens, but my favorite lens for backstage work is 35mm.

What’s your favorite to shoot: street, backstage or editorial?

Backstage; it allows me the most creativity. I get a chance to pull models to the side and create a story and shoot first looks in an unsuspecting manner before they’re presented to the world.

Everyone sees runway on wire outlets and street style in magazines; backstage work grants me the opportunity to give people a peek at something they might’ve never seen otherwise.

You shoot Fashion Week every season and often for your personal portfolio. Why is shooting FW (regardless of a published assignment) important for photographers?

The biggest challenges when shooting off-assignment are gaining press credentials and dealing with people (mainly PR reps) not taking you seriously. What keeps me coming back each season is the art I am able to create and the history I have the opportunity to document.

This may sound pretentious, but I go into every season thinking, “30 years from now, when someone writes a book about this designer, they’ll use my photos to tell the story.” Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

I often hear people complain that our field is dominated by white males. Do you think that’s true and is it improving at all?

Yes, it’s dominated by white males and the improvements I see are only evident with streetwear, urban and emerging brands. They’re more likely to reach out to upcoming photographers, be they woman, black or other.

I believe brands, PR and designers alike should take more time to research photographers as intently as they research the inspiration behind their collection. We as photographers have to be unapologetic in who we are, and unafraid to change the status quo.

Lillie Eiger

Lillie Eiger

Instagram: @lillieeiger

Where are you originally from?

Chicago, IL.

Where is your current residence?

London.

What do you shoot with?

I love shooting on film.

What is most challenging to shoot: backstage, street or editorials?

Backstage is probably the most challenging, physically and mentally. That’s probably why I’m drawn to it. It takes a lot out of you. There are so many highs and lows, and it’s so often out of your control and completely reliant on each backstage environment: is there a clean backdrop? Are there too many people faffing around the models in first looks? Are the PRs going to kick everyone out?

There’s so much happening, you have to really think on your toes. It’s definitely not as glam as it looks, but I suppose it’s my job to make it look that way!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve witnessed at Fashion Week?

It’s usually amongst the photographers: there’s always a lot of elbows and f-bombs flying around, but sometimes it escalates and gets a bit more physical and personal. It can get intense when we’re all put in such a small space.

Every season there’s some beef between the “big boys” and the “newbies.” I’ve seen a lot of literal blood, sweat and tears. If you don’t stand up for yourself, especially as a female photographer, you’ll get pushed out.

What are the biggest challenges for a fashion photographer?

Recently, my biggest challenge has been not letting myself get discouraged. There’s a lot of rejection involved, just like all other aspects of the fashion industry, but you’ve got to brush it off and get back to work.

The pressure to be “relevant and cool” is definitely unnecessary but always there. I find that when I shut off the part of my brain that worries about what others think, I shoot my best photographs.

Jason Jean

Jason Jean

Instagram: @citizencouture

Where are you originally from?

Born and raised in NYC, but my parents are from Taiwan.

Where is your current residence?

Manhattan.

How would you describe your photography style?

I love photographing new and interesting faces and most of my style is focused on portrait work using soft, natural light.

I notice you shoot a ton of travel and landscape photos. Was this your first passion, before fashion?

Landscape and fashion came about the same time. Photographing fashion versus landscape keeps me mentally balanced. Approaching landscape photography is different in that I can really think about how I want to frame my images and just wait (even for a whole day) for the right light or weather condition. Fashion has a faster pace that requires me to adapt quickly.

You are more published than some on our list. Was there a turning point that launched your career? What advice would you give to up and coming photographers?

I don’t recall a turning point, but I think what helps is realizing that work doesn’t come to you. Photography within the fashion industry is competitive and you have to get out of your comfort zone and be somewhat aggressive (network and ask for work) but not let any downfalls turn you down. Just keep on trying, learning and creating.

Your IG bio mentions that you’re fighting glaucoma. How do you compensate for this and keep your photos on point?

I’ve had glaucoma for more than a decade and sometimes I forget, especially when I’m busy. I get panic attacks from time to time when I realize that my vision is blurry and I’m in constant fear that I’ve lost more vision.

Another challenge is dealing with side-effects from medications. While I’ve come to accept my situation, what helps is maintaining a consistent and balanced lifestyle.

Emily Malan

Emily Malan

Instagram: @emilymalan

Where are you originally from?

A small suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Where is your current residence?

I split my time between L.A. and NYC.

What do you shoot with?

A Canon 5D Mark 2 and 3.

What is Fashion Week like for a photographer?

It’s a chaotic circus. One model recently called us the “suicide squad” because we are often jumping in traffic to get the shots.

Which Fashion Week city has the best street style and why?

I personally love the vibe in London. Londoners seem to be in tune with their own personal style, whereas, in contrast with NYC, it’s all about the spectacle and riding the trends.

Paris and NYC are where I get my best pictures. I think Paris has the most stylish women. Parisian women just have this simple but cool, I-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-you attitude that I find interesting. I love the energy in NYC.

You have been published more than others on our list. What would be some advice you would give to up-and-coming photographers?

I think smaller opportunities can lead to larger ones, so when I started out as a photographer in NYC, I tried to not turn anything down. You can’t be entitled or act too good for any kind of work. Moving to NYC definitely jump-started my career, which I’m thankful for.

I’ve hit most of my personal career goals this year, however, I don’t feel anywhere near where I want to be. I work really, really hard. I think a lot of younger photographers fresh out of school and the general public (AKA people with normal jobs) don’t realize how much work it takes to get any kind of freelance work. You really have to be on top of it and hustle hard.

Check out what Milan’s most stylish denizens were wearing at Fashion Week here.

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