Gareth Cattermole has been shooting alternative view at Couture Fashion Week to capture something totally unique.

The whole idea behind ‘Alternative View’ was to come up with an alternative way to cover or showcase an event which is totally separate from our mainstream coverage and offers customers something totally unique.  For a few years, I was experimenting with different cameras, angles and techniques while covering my day to day work and we found that it was something customers really picked up on.  Couture is one of the events where this works perfectly and for me it’s one of my favourite assignments to cover.

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I do feel quite lonely in Paris although it’s not the longest time to be away, it’s just 6 nights but you are working alone most of the time apart from the odd photographer you might run into backstage or between shows so it’s a very solitary environment.

I travel light every day, just a backpack with my Fuji X-Pro 1 and an 18mm lens, also my Nikon D3s with an 85mm. A few spare batteries, invitations and a jacket are the only other things in my bag as I can’t be carrying loads of kit; it’s not necessary and just confuses things. I’ve used this setup for a few years now and haven’t changed it. It allows me to concentrate on what I am shooting rather than changing lenses every 5 minutes and missing things.  

My style of work is much more about documenting what’s happening backstage and around Fashion Weeks rather than asking models to pose and setting shots up. I just prefer to tell a story from a point of view where the viewer feels they are actually there amongst it.

The decision to shoot in black and white comes from a variety of different influences. I love the work of Vivian Maier and Bill Cunningham but I don’t set out to emulate either of these photographers work. I just like the style each of them has and I asked myself how can I bring something I see in their work to what I shoot each day. Plus I didn’t know of anyone else who exclusively shot black and white during fashion weeks so I thought that will be my angle and I will develop it from there.

Alternative view is not just about taking an image and turning it black and white and sending it out. The image has to have a look and a feel that a colour one can’t give you, an almost timeless quality. There is something about black and white which to me is so intriguing yet so simple. 
I am a pretty quiet person when I’m working, I don’t say much.  I just like to find a corner and watch what is going on for a bit, see what the dresses are like and get a feel for the general mood backstage. I look for little interesting angles or areas to shoot from but rarely ask a model to pose. That’s the style I like, I want to catch natural expressions and what actually happens backstage before during and after shows. 

Every season I look forward to the Rami Al Ali presentation, it’s great to see him and his creations. The first season I covered Couture I was shocked at how laid back it was but now each season is getting more intense.

I am not interested in covering front of house once the shows start, I either want to be backstage or I will move on to another show. There are enough guys shooting FOH and it’s not the angle I am going for but I will always have a look at the run through as again, there might be interesting angles and moments.

I can’t get along to all of the shows I have invites for so I pick up the passes and invites from Dragana (Assignment Editor) at the office in Paris, we have a coffee and a chat, then each night when I get back to my hotel I look at what I have for the following day and work out a plan. I actually shoot quite a lot outside the shows where the street style photographers work and this is where my love of Vivian Maier and Bill Cunningham’s work gives me inspiration. The clothes do interest me but it’s more the people who gather to watch what’s going on and also the people who are actually there working that I like.

I am not a fan of carrying a big camera and pointing it at people at all! Straight away people’s guard can go up so when I am working outside I like to shoot without looking through the viewfinder. I might walk from the Metro station to the show just shooting away without people knowing. It’s kind of exciting if you see a moment you want to capture but know that if you are seen the moment will be gone and it’s how will you get that shot without being seen. That’s when I think my years as a pap photographer have helped me! I try to cover as many shows as I can but as soon as I am done I’m back to the hotel to start editing and that usually lasts well into the night.

Watch Gareth in action at Cannes Film Festival. 

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