Ian Gavan discusses what it's like to shoot on assignment at Mercedes Benz Istanbul Fashion Week and picks his best pictures from the event.

This was the third season in a row I’ve been assigned to cover Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Istanbul. Shooting house for the client means covering off every look of every show including backstage coverage of the models preparation including hair and make up and finished looks in the line up as the show is running.

The backstage element of this brief can be challenging. The place is almost always packed and time is short. There are three hair and make-up areas which rotate so the girls can get ready prior to getting dressed for the show, then two dressing areas - one right behind each of the two runways. There are a lot of people working hard to ensure everything is ready; there is the omnipresent security, the coordinators of the show who make everything happen, the dressers, usually two to each model to help the change in between looks - like a Formula 1 pit stop for a person - and then the models themselves. Space is tight and it seems as if everyone is squeezing past each other all the time.

The first thing to do upon arriving backstage is to say hello to security, crack a joke or two so they remember you and then get in there to check out the light.

In the hair and make-up area, you’ve got the quintessential rows of bare bulbs around the mirrors flinging out the warm tungsten, but the dressing area seems to be different light each season. Usually down-lit by awful service lights or arc lights attached to the woodwork holding up the back of the runway set. It is in this area you have to fathom out a strategy to light the girls and the designer’s clothes and hopefully do the combination justice.

This backstage aspect of the job usually requires a little co-operation from the models. They’re as busy as everyone else, but with a little tact it’s possible to get them to collaborate to make something more interesting.
The more seasons you work in Istanbul the more you get to know everyone. It’s a good idea to build rapport and trust. After three seasons I’ve got to know a lot of the regular Turkish models enough that they’ll delighted to help me out and go out of their way to work with me to get some cool shots.

This of course is just one tactic. It can be just as valid to become invisible and record what you see without affecting your environment at all. As a photographer, you have to adapt and have flexible strategies to go with what you have around you to create the best possible results that time, space and light allow. However, if the available light is bad, make sure you have good light available in your camera bag.

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