Sometimes, when I’m walking down the street, I will notice something and think to myself that it would make a good photo. When this happens, I almost always take out my phone to take said photo and very rarely feel embarrassed about it. Why would I? I have identified a scene that I believe is worth capturing, and in this day and age, we’re all photographers and storytellers, aren’t we?
Of course we are.
I bring this up because this rule no longer applies to fashion week. On the contrary, having your phone out at a show has become somewhat, dare I say, embarrassing. Which is ridiculous if you think about it, because many of the attendees are at these shows for the sole purpose of gathering photos for later use. So why has this happened, and should we do anything about it?
My guess is as good as yours, but if I had to share it (which I don’t, but I will), I’d say we’ve been too trigger happy. The new guard, human iPhones to some degree, came stomping in to watch shows not through their eyes but with their phone lenses. Undoubtedly this incited dismay among the seasoned seat holders of these shows, who’d mastered this rodeo, covering the clothes for decades with nary a problem in sight. But that’s not even what was problematic. We are who we are, dammit, and we shouldn’t have to apologize for that. The thing of it was, we’d do anything to get a shot (as opposed to the shot) and frankly, too, it didn’t matter what was in the shot — pics or it didn’t happen, etc. Forget the artistry, the craft, the actual clothes. It became about proving that you were there. Which sucks!
I have fallen victim to this plague too; it is so easy to get caught up in doing what you see everyone else doing. But over the last couple of seasons, I have also developed a strange discomfort. It’s not around posting from shows, but of actually taking the photos. Sometimes, I’ll position my phone really discreetly, like I’m texting in class or something. Other times, I’ll skip the photo all together. My thinking is such that someone else will have no doubt gotten the photo, so why do I need it anyway — which brings up another interesting piece of the evolution of social media at fashion week.
If we’re all posting the same photos, from the same shows, and the quality blows, what’s the use? Have designers become too caught up in creating clothes that photograph well (as opposed to wear well) and have we, the spectators, forgotten what a critical opinion looks like because we’ve become too invested in getting the shot first?
Illustration and GIF by Max Dower of Unfortunate Portrait.