In the Milan street style bubble
MILAN, March 3, 2015 – Shooting a catwalk show in Milan usually means packing in like sardines with a gang of grumpy photographers, and waiting passively to snap the models as they walk towards you. In the street you’re on the hunt for images – but during fashion week you never have far to go.
You can spot them all over the city like a colourful tribe. The fashionistas are everywhere. Right now, sitting at the airport, I can see them all around me in their sharp pants and swishing coats.
These past few seasons, I have been trying to do something different in Milan. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to leave the top shows to my colleagues – and concentrate on the rest: the smaller shows, backstage shoots, offbeat stuff, and the street. For someone like me - who is no fashion expert - it is all a lot of fun. An unreal bubble.
But shooting on the street brings its own challenges: you’ve got the cigarette butts, the dog mess, the intrusive little details that can ruin a great photo.
You have to pick out the girls - or guys - from afar. You position yourself. Often you ask them to pose, or move a little away from the dog turd. The whole thing turns into an impromptu little photo shoot. And then, as often as not, the pack turns up. That’s what happened with this girl in the black and white dress – suddenly I had 100 guys behind me!
With my few thousand followers, I am a dwarf in the world of fashion ‘Instagrammers’ – many of whom have hundreds of thousands. But I have a lot of fun with my Instagram account. I try to feed it with a new image every day. It’s an interesting exercise, something I do in parallel with my work at AFP, which makes me keep an eye open for street scenes, for the unexpected.
I am one of a handful of professional photographers out there doing street shoots – alongside the local wedding photographers, the fashion-mad teenagers, and of course the bloggers, some of them worth millions in their own right.
But then again, these people know far more than I do about fashion. I can spot if someone is wearing Dolce & Gabbana, but that’s about it. We come from different worlds, and that’s what interests me.
Most of the crowd are fashion addicts, quite simply, posted outside the show venues like fans waiting for a glimpse of a pop star. Like teenage girls who dream of being singers, these kids all want to be models, designers, hairdressers - anything so long as it’s to do with fashion. People who plough all their savings into clothes and kit - and are probably back at the office by now.
Many of these kids have their own Instagram accounts, and I know many of them will follow me online for my photos of the week – and will unfollow me in disgust once Milan is over and the fashion shots stop flowing.
Fashion blogger Linda Tol poses as she arrives for the Dolce & Gabbana show at Milan Fashion Week on March 1, 2015
(AFP Photo / Gabriel Bouys)
The street photographers don’t know how to move like professionals - or for that matter how to keep out of each other’s way. But the atmosphere is so much friendlier than inside the shows, where it can frankly get pretty nasty.
The insider crowd – who barrel through all four capitals, New York, London, Milan, Paris – is a real mafia. The photographer’s spots are staked out in advance. If you’re not part of that clique, it’s a real battle to get a good, central position.
I have to admit the street shoots are a lot more fun - even though it’s a privilege that means I am outside come rain or shine, and Milan can be freezing this time of year!
Covering lesser-known houses also allows for more risk-taking. Like here at a show by Daniela Gregis, where I knew I could afford to let myself go a little – once I had nailed a dozen regular shots for my editors.
In this multiple exposure picture a model presents a creation for Daniela Gregis
at Milan Fashion Week on February 26, 2015 (AFP Photo / Gabriel Bouys)
I was playing with multiple exposures – nothing ground-breaking, but it lightens up the AFP photo wire a little, and shows our clients that we can do more than just your regular, classical photography. It’s a luxury to be able to do it.
Gabriel Bouys is an AFP photographer based in Rome. Find more examples of his work on Instagram.