Photographer Jean-Luc Brouard takes us behind the scenes at London Fashion Week, sharing the highlights – and challenges – of his experience.
“I know fashion exists I just don’t always believe in it’ is the first thing Jean-Luc tells me, somewhat ‘tongue in cheek” when we talk about his time shooting London Fashion Week.
While this might seem like an unusual thing for someone who regularly covers one of the world’s biggest fashion events to say, for Jean-Luc it is at times, more about the people he shoots.
“I’m a portrait photographer really, when I shoot backstage I am in essence shooting portraits – they just also happen to have fashion in them.”
“Fifteen years ago I would not have been interested in shooting fashion week, I was doing a lot of stuff with bands and behind the scenes music. But there is a similar energy backstage at a show as when a band is about to go on.”
When asked about his favourite part of shooting fashion week, Jean-Luc laughs ‘definitely not the lack of sleep or walking between the venues.’
“I never have two shows in the same venue consecutively, I’ll shoot a show, dash across town to the next show and then probably have to go back to the original venue again.”
He says missing a really great shot or a particular show can also be frustrating, however, it is worth it to get the shots ‘you are really happy with.’
“Being backstage and managing to see a moment about to happen and grabbing it or lighting it just right is a great feeling,” he says.
“I like to mess around with light and see what works to isolate the model and clothes from whatever else is going on”.
“When it works and the image gets used that is great.”
“My favourite designer does tend to change season by season. However there are some designers I really like shooting because their collections tend to follow a similar theme.”
“You know if you shot them one year and it went really well you are likely to get good images the next time, or at least you hope you will”
Speaking about the changes he has seen during his years shooting fashion week, Jean-Luc says: “There are a lot more, bloggers, more phones, a lot more tablets, lots more selfies but they can be quite fun to shoot when you have the models posing for their own phone.”
He also says backstage has gotten busier in the last five years.
“There are quite a few shows where the crush of photographers gets too much and everyone crowds around.”
“If the dressers or hair or makeup haven’t got space to get the final touches done on the models, because there’s a pack of photographers getting too close…. That’s when the designer or show producer will clear everyone out.”
“If that happens everyone misses out. You end up only getting shots after the models have walked”
Jean-Luc started taking pictures at school, studying photography, art and ceramics at A-level and says he thought he might go into fashion himself ‘for about 10 minutes’.
He went on to study photography and after finishing his studies decided to try working freelance.
“I thought I’d give it a couple of years and see if it worked out and if it didn’t I’d have to move up to London for work.
“It’s been 20-odd years and I haven’t had to move up to London yet.”
Away, from his commercial portrait work, Jean-Luc has an extensive personal collection of images – some of which can be seen hanging on the walls at Spectrum.
Recent work includes a series of night-time portraits of trees.
“You can light them up and make them look completely different. It is the same process as with models except it is much slower – I can’t get as many shots of trees in one night.”
To see Jean-Luc Brouard’s website, click here.
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