I’ve covered a few New York Fashion Weeks on the street-style side for a couple of years now. In fact, it was one of the first things I did when I moved to New York! A few days after Labor Day weekend. I was so caught up with moving, I forgot NYFW was just a few days away. I remember it as if it were yesterday.
I’ll be focusing on how I prepare for the street-fashion side of things. It’s how I started and absolutely love it! When you cover events indoors, it’s a whole other ball game and while not hugely different in preparation, does require some different tools.
Before we get into the physical needs of prepping for New York Fashion Week, I think the most important thing to do is: plan. I know, it goes against everything in the creative industry. Right? Planning the day, what you’ll need, transportation, tickets, documentation. For a successful anything, 50% of your success is going to come from planning. Time and time again, it’s all about planning.
This is one thing that I joke about with others in the industry. It’s hard for me to believe that a multi-billion industry runs by the seat of its pants much of the time. You know if you planned, you’d get more done, save money and, would save your sanity!
One of the things I struggled with when I first started covering shows is carrying my gear. Especially when I was still on the DSLR. I had my trusty Tenba Messenger-style bag. But it was too small for using all day. I needed something bigger. When you’re outside all day in possibly unforgiving weather, you need extra clothing, food and plenty of camera supplies. Yes, you do. Plus, food is expensive in Manhattan. You can easily spend $30 – $40 a day. And that’s being cheap. You can cut that down to $10 if you bring your food with you. Easy.
The next thing is: backpack or messenger/shoulder bag? I think the main difference is whether you’ll have lots of distance to travel between venues. I first bought a backpack and used it for both New York and Paris Fashion Weeks. It really made carrying gear extremely easy. But the big problem was that I had to remove it whenever I needed items. For Paris, it worked well. For New York, it was hassle. You can walk between most venues for NYFW or at the very least, hop on public transit which is everywhere and cheap. Weight isn’t so taxing in this case.
I finally settled on the Billingham 445 shoulder bag. A British company. Can you tell? If you know anything about photographers, you know that camera bags are one of the toughest decisions we can make! For me, I pretty much know what I want quite quickly and easily. But what I like tends to be expensive simply because I see value. As do the manufacturers!
The Billingham 445 is a great bag! It’s big and has a good number of useable pockets. I can fit everything I need I previously discussed quite easily. It’s big. Right? The more you put into it, the heavier it gets. Very true. But I think the strap and the way the straps surround the bag, that it distributes the weight extremely well. I can use it all day. No problem with weight.
It’s not perfect. I don’t like how the straps block the front pockets. But even with those straps, I can get at the contents quite easily. It’s more of a style thing. And that’s another reason why I bought it. I just didn’t want another dull-looking, black camera bag. I’m a fashion photographer! I should have something stylish. I know attendees appreciate that.
Let’s not so quickly disregard style. Looking professional makes a difference. It took a while to find a bag that met all my requirements and still had style. At the time, I think the Billingham brand was one of the few. A few other manufacturers have been coming around. ThinkTank has been knocking it out of the park that last year or so! I especially love the Lily Deanne bags. Supposedly, a camera bag for women. However, I’d totally buy one for myself! I’ve told them they shouldn’t market it for just women. I don’t see why it’s feminine in style. I don’t get it. It’s too small for all-day use. But for half-day and indoor-events, especially stylish ones, I would totally use it. And it’s half the price of the Billingham too!
This is always a tricky one. Most people bring everything including the kitchen sink to make sure they’re covered. But to me, that’s just a way of saying you’re not prepared or know what you’re doing. Though I have an enormous advantage with my 20+ years of being in the computer industry. But it’s still tricky.
My ideal would be a 2017 MacBook. Specifically, this model. The reason is that this year, the model supports 16GB of RAM. I’ve tested my photography apps on previous versions of the MacBook and they ‘work’. But they feel clunky when used. If you get the top-end 1.4GHz process, combined with the 16GB of RAM, it’s looks to be great machine! They even upgraded the key-mechanism as well. Typing was never a great experience. Now, with all these enhancements, it’s definitely road-warrior level. I had a 2011 Mac Mini that was Intel Core i5 dual-core that I upgraded with an SSD and 16GB of RAM and was satisfied with day-to-day performance. The 2017 MacBook has 50% better CPU performance even having a CPU that’s 20% slower in clock speed. The performance improvement over my Mac Mini doesn’t stop there either with vastly improved storage speed. Probably 300% improvement over the Mac Mini. Internal storage speed makes a huge improvement in the user experience.
Remember when I said I have an advantage of having over 20 years of computer experience? This is one of those times where that knowledge comes handy. Because I don’t have the money to spare for that MacBook! I can sell my 2013 MacBook Pro and that would get me half way. The 2017 MacBooks still haven’t reached the refurbished market either and don’t expect it for months. I need options.
So for now, I’m going to try my iPad Pro 9.7” w/keyboard a shot. The advantage the MacBook has over the iPad is processing power, app familiarity and a little ease of use with those apps. But the iPad is easier to use when travelling between locations. Let’s not discount this too quickly. I love being able to view a map, schedule or any other kind of documents on the iPad. Press the power button and it’s off/on. No shutdown. I have cellular on it and has 256GB of memory. Plenty to store a days-worth of images If it comes to that. If not, I’ll use my backpack and schlep my 15” MacBook Pro. A hassle but I’ll live. The iPad should suffice and really, none of my NYFW projects would need lots of images directly afterwards. I live 30 minutes away from the shows. I can process from there.
Also known as power banks. If I leave home with fully charged systems, I won’t need a battery bank. I’m pretty good about plugging in my systems to charge before I go to bed. But after a long day, sometimes you forget to charge up. In this case, I go to RavPower….
If you didn’t know, RavPower is it for battery systems and I didn’t have to think where I was going to go for my choice. I chose the Power Banks RAVPower 22000 Portable Charger 22000mAh 5.8A. This thing will charge my iPad 3x over! At $40, super-cheap too!
There is no way I can use this thing up in a day. No way. The only problem is that even though it charges quickly for what it is, it’s a huge battery. No matter what, it’s going to take time to fully charge. It’s also a bit heavy. I’m motivated to have fully charged systems before leaving for the day.
The best backup storage is to have a secondary memory card in your camera. That almost takes care of this entire section! But most cameras don’t have that option. I use a Panasonic GX8 and as great as it is, doesn’t have a second slot. That’s where external storage systems come into place.
For street-fashion and it’s critical for backing up, I’m going to use my iPad or if I have a laptop, an external drive. There are devices where you can plug in memory cards and then transfer images to the internal drive. This is one of those times where I’d rather have a laptop. If I was a wedding photographer, this external storage system would be great. But it’s more weight and money and I think you’re duplicating systems. You’re going to have a laptop. Right?
I’ve always loved Western Digital and they’ve come out with these great and fast portable drives. And cheap too! I purchased a 3TB drive for less than $100. But if you want to take it up a notch, get an external backup system based on SSD. Even a relatively inexpensive 256GB drive would be more than enough and you wouldn’t have to worry about the sometimes delicate nature of platter-based hard drives.
The Camera and Gear
It’s almost an afterthought for me when it comes to this simply because I’m quite anal about camera maintenance and shoot processes. I have check-lists of the different types of shoots I do and simply go down the list to make sure I have everything. There are small differences sometimes between the shoots and it’s a drag when you forget one of those little items. Nothing major. More of an inconvenience. Like forgetting your cable to charge your phone. Usually trivial but avoidable with a checklist.
Yes, this deserves its own section! I can’t tell you how often I run into people who don’t have business cards. When you’re at an event and you’re a professional, there is no excuse for that. None. Sure you can use your phone to jot down information. But what is this? Amateur hour? Not a great way to make a first impression.
I think New York Fashion is a great and fun experience especially on the street-fashion side of things. Being prepared with all the tools you need to take great photos and hopefully, get them published, should be the goal of any street-fashion photographer. However as one of the less-introverted photographers out there, I love meeting people! Sure they can be great business contacts. But I think it’s great to just get out there and experience all the personalities. In the end, it’s always about the human experience.