We took a dive into the life of a fashion and celebrity photographer, including what it takes to survive fashion week and shooting private events under pressure and time crunches. Yes, everything looks glamorous. And you know what? A lot of the time, it is. But behind all the glamour is tons of hard work, waiting, running around, and hustling. Here's our Q&A with the talented Presley Ann to learn more about a day in the life, and her side project which aims to keep film photography alive.
SOCIAL DECAY: What is it like being part of NYFW?-
SOCIAL DECAY: What is it like being part of NYFW?-
PRESLEY ANN: When most people think of fashion week, they believe that it is all glam and glitz:Front row A-list celebs, rubbing elbows with supermodels backstage, access to high-end private parties. Although that is all very much a part of my job, it is a lot of sleepless nights, going home at 4 am after you finish editing an entire day and nights worth of shows and parties, for about eight days straight. It’s funny because fashion has a way of knocking you on your ass, but after it is all done and over you are even more in love with it. Even after the hardest seasons, looking back, I’m always proud of what I have done. But if you find me during the middle of the week, I am sleep deprived, sore, bruised from carrying equipment and wondering if I have lost my ever-loving mind. I have been shooting fashion week for six seasons officially now, and it's been a crazy roller coaster. I first started shooting shows by getting in with a small magazine editor's spare ticket. At the time I wasn’t even considered press. After about two seasons I worked my way up to an established photo agency and then happily this year I was promoted again to a global company with fantastic access. A typical day involves me shooting two or more shows and maybe a private party at night. It’s a lot of waiting; I will arrive at a venue 3 or 4 hours before the show takes place, find my spot on the riser, run backstage shoot models getting ready and first looks. Then I run back to the front row to grab photos of all the notables attending the show before jumping back to the riser right before they dim the lights. After the show, I run to the next show and repeat the process. On my way to the next show in the cab or subway, I am busy editing images, so they are online by the time I arrive at the next show. My images will be running in articles before I’ve even finished shooting the next show which is a kind of cool feeling.
SD: What was your favorite show of the season?
PA: Clothing wise, I am in love with the Marc Jacobs show this season. The platform shoes were so beautifully detailed and embellished. Marc always does a fantastic job of putting on a massive production and always on time! Typically most shows are 30-40 plus minutes late. If Marc says that the show starts at 3, you better be there on time! This was probably my biggest show I've ever shot model wise. Kendall Jenner, Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Jourdan Dunn and Adriana Lima all walked in Marc Jacobs this season. That’s a killer lineup! I was sad Betsy Johnson didn’t show this year, because she has always been my all-time favorite. She usually decorates backstage with handmade posters she makes for each model walking in her show. Not to mention, she is such an amazing personality to be around!
SD: Do you prefer shooting fashion shows and events over more intimate shoots?
PA: I love the fast pace of fashion shows and the energy of them, but it's even more exciting to shoot a low key dinner or private screening. Some of my best stories come from private events because you have a second with a lot of the celebs to have a conversation or to set up a killer shot. I think one of the best examples was at The Hateful Eight after party, Channing Tatum walked into the party but had a long day and wasn’t doing photos for the press. Not taking no for an answer, I walked to the back of the venue with the Polaroid camera in hand and asked him if I could grab a quick shot. He was beyond thrilled! He pulled together all his friends, and we got a great shot! His team even got my info so he could get a copy of the polaroid. Just because I was doing something different and more intimate, he was willing to open up and allow me to photograph him.
SD: You also run Polaroid Famous! What was the idea behind that? I love it!
PA: Speaking of Polaroids! Yes, I do! Originally it started out as a blog of polaroids from my travels. I was trying to capture all 50 states in the US via Polaroid. After I moved to New York in 2013 and started shooting A-list events, I always carried polaroid film on me and if I got a chance to shoot extra film shots, I would. I always felt like you get a better reaction from your subjects when shooting with Polaroids. Celebs are more engaged and are willing to do silly poses and be themselves when you are shooting film. I eventually started getting my Polaroids published in Interview Magazine which was a big deal for me, because it was a way to show that film isn’t dead and you can still make it out there being a film shooter.
SD: Do you experiment with other types of film photography as well?
PA: I love experimenting with Lomography Film! They have always been so great to me and are one of the only places I know of in NYC that will develop any film I bring in. I own a lot of their cameras, and anytime I am out of the country or shooting celeb events I have one on me. I shoot a lot of 35mm and 120 when I travel. It helps me stop and think about each shot. I almost never bring a digital camera when I travel anymore. It's more exciting to come home and wait to go on the trip all over again when I get the film back.
SD: Do you get starstruck while shooting celebrities?
PA: I usually never lose my cool or fangirl out when shooting celebrities. During this past fashion week, I was at the Interview Magazine Party. Tyson Beckford was attending I had photographed him before at events and runway shows, but this venue was very very crowded, so it required getting very close to someone to set up a shot. I took a few photos of him and his friends. Every time I took a photo he would give me a hug and kissed me on the cheek. I absolutely died. He is such a sweet guy and genuine person so it’s hard not to crush on him!
SD: Do you have one favorite Polaroid you've shot?
PA: This is so hard! Each one means so much to me. Each one is a reminder of a show or event I have attended. I don't think I could ever pick just one. A lot of people have told me I should sell them, but they are almost a part of me it would feel weird to sell off a part of me.
SD: Is there a celebrity you haven't shot yet that you want to?
PA: I know it's corny, but I would really love to take photos of Taylor Swift. I bet she is the sweetest gal ever. I'm from the midwest, and I've followed her since her country days. I saw her briefly at the Tommy Hilfiger fashion show recently, but the venue was so huge I wasn't able to get a photo of her. I think any gal could always use a friend like Tay. I would totally make her a homemade card if I knew she was coming to an event. I wish everyone made sweet gestures like that nowadays!