Fashion week is an event where people are eager to be seen. It showcases exciting runway concepts, and hosts numerous celebrities that you may spot for just a moment. Even everyday people dress up to their best hoping to get their picture taken by a random photographer. For photographers, fashion week is a daring time to test their skill and luck by taking pictures of the designers, models, and celebrities – competing with official photographers, media, and budding enthusiasts.
Martynas Katauskas (@duffman) started going to fashion weeks in 2016 in New York and Paris. Equipped with an abundance of camera gear, he takes crisp portraits of models and faces of fashion. Interestingly, he goes beyond the conventional and uses films like LomoChrome Purple, LomoChrome Metropolis and LomoChrome Turquoise. Today, we get to talk to Martynas, a great contributor to the Lomography community, about his experience shooting fashion week, and get some tips on how to build confidence during one of the busiest and nerve-wracking events to be a photographer at.
Greetings Martynas! It’s been a while since we last had you in the magazine! Can you re-introduce yourself and tell us what you have been up to since the last time we talked?
I’m Martynas, 28 years young and currently living in Frankfurt, Germany. I’ve been shooting film since late 2011 and that was also when I got into the Lomography Community. Since 2018 I’ve been studying photojournalism and documentary photography in Hannover. In between I’ve also lived in Paris and Bremen. Now after almost 17 years, I’m planning to move back to my home country Lithuania, and start working there in a photo studio.
So you have been taking pictures during Paris Fashion Week for a few years. What’s the experience like?
I started shooting fashion weeks by accident in 2016 in New York. When I moved to Paris in 2020 for an internship that never happened because of Covid of course I didn’t miss the chance to take some photos of the Paris Fashion Week. It was really fun and so I went just for that in 2022 with a friend and then this year again! It is always super busy and crowded with paparazzi, random people, and serious photographers that do the whole fashion month going from New York to London to Milan to Paris. Some of them every year. So the energy is wild. You can almost smell the adrenalin in the air. Some people hate it, I think it’s fun!
With all the security and high-profile people how do you get so up close and personal with your shots?
If you know where to stand and how to move it isn’t too difficult even with the high profile people. Of course, you need some luck, because mostly it gets very crowded and sometimes there are up to 8 bodyguards around a person. But I don't really care for those people. I like to observe the happening though. It is very entertaining! Anyway, all of the designers, models, and guests need to enter and later somehow leave the show. So I just stand and wait till I see someone that catches my eye and then either ask If I can take their portrait or just shoot while they walk by. I like getting close and waiting till I get eye contact.
What are some street photography techniques you have learned from your years of shooting?
I do not consider it street photography what I’m doing during the fashion weeks. It’s more portraiture under very quick and unpredictable circumstances where street photography skills can help a lot. Speaking of techniques I would say I learned where to stand and where not to. Also very important is to get low when standing close to not disturb the ‘’pros’’ shooting with their tele lenses. Otherwise, you get in trouble and yelled at. Models are usually very patient and kind. When you raise the camera and wait they will give you a look, and then you have your short moment to get that personal shot.
Who is the most famous person you've photographed, and who is the most famous person you didn’t get a chance to photograph?
There were so many of them that I missed! It’s impossible to catch 'em all! In 2020 Kanye West and Kim Kardashian were arriving at Palais de Tokyo. It got instantly super crowded and everyone was freaking out. I didn’t even try to get closer or to shoot. The thing is also that the "most famous" usually don’t even look that interesting. I’m not a paparazzi who sells his photographs. The most famous model I’ve photographed on several occasions in Paris and New York was probably Romee Strijd.
Personally, do you have a favorite brand or designer? What would you say is your fashion uniform?
The truth is I'm not into fashion at all. I also do not care about any big brands or fashion designers. I like small and core brands mostly from the skateboarding industry. I spend pretty much all of my money on traveling and film so my fashion uniform is usually what I wear when I skate. A pair of comfortable skate shoes, blue jeans, and usually just a simple black shirt.
Comparing your photos from the different PFW years, I noticed that 2022 and 2020 were more on the experimental side, while the most recent one was more straightforward. Was there any reason for this? And can you talk about your process in choosing gear, film, etc.?
I still haven’t figured that out for myself. Every time I go somewhere it is the same dilemma of which camera and film to take. And every time I end up with at least two or three cameras and films. This year I took five different cameras and five different films to Paris but ended up shooting the most on regular color negative film. But even this time there was a lot of experimenting.
What made you want to try LomoChrome Turquoise and LomoChrome Purple during fashion week?
So because there are several hundred or maybe even thousands of other photographers who I feel are often taking the same image, I am always motivated to try to do something different. LomoChrome films help a lot with that I shot LomoChrome Purple and LomoChrome Metropolis in 2020, the 2014 formula for LomoChrome Turquoise in 2022, and the new formula in 2023. I still haven't seen any other fashion week photos on LomoChrome films except my own to date.
Do you have a favorite photo you took during fashion week?
It’s a photo from the New York Fashion Week in 2016. Which was my first FW ever. It’s not only one of my favorite FW shots but also probably my most successful photo.
It has been exhibited a couple of times, sold over 30 times, and also won a prize in a bigger photo competition.
Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone who wants to do street photography during fashion events?
Just get your cameras ready, bring twice as much film as you think you’ll need, get as close as possible, and most importantly don’t be shy to ask to take people's portraits.
We thank Martynas for his wonderful photos and tips on how to get those intimate portraits during fashion week. To keep up with him you can check out his Instagram and LomoHome. Have you tried shooting film during a nerve-wracking event? Tell us your experience down below!