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Photographing the Photographers at Fashion Week

In an alternative move, the brilliant Polly Brown shifts her gaze from the allure of the runway to the industry's rarely captured backstage paparazzi

TextNatalie RiggPhotographyPolly BrownPhotographic EditorHolly Hay

It was last March, while roaming the bland backstage areas of Paris Fashion Week's most luxuriant runway shows, camera in tow, that Polly Brown became intrigued by a select circle of backstage photographers who congregate (competitively) at every style spectacle, vying for their winning shots. Brown, who is known for her witty and wonderfully unorthodox observations on contemporary art and fashion, favours realism over fantasy and furore – as her work attests.

12 months later and her curiosity is now fully realised in this unique photo series, which sees the London-based image-maker divert her lens from the gaggles of lithe models in their avant-garde finery, to the backstage photographers themselves. "It’s an alternative roundup to A/W16, focusing on the photographers to sum up the season," Brown explains. "There to capture beauty, serenity, luxury and high-end fashion, there is something amazing about their gaffer taped flash kits, Geox trainers and functionality."

The experimental study, which took place over a month, not only exposes "the hustle and chaos, the un-glamorous reality that is shined and shushed backstage", but also frames the distinctive personalities of each of the photographers involved. Which, in turn, prompted Brown to align each face with their most suited fashion house. “It was funny, it went from me choosing who I thought fitted each show to, by the end, a few of the photographers choosing which house they wanted to be the face of.” Here, she talks AnOther through her observations and photo highlights. 

"This is one of my favourite images. I stalked this guy for a few shows until I got his picture. He looked so good next to a breeze block." 

"I liked the idea that they [the photographers] travel with the fashion weeks, they do the whole four cities, the biggest shows, they see first looks before the crowds of Instagram, they know the designers, the models, the make-up and the PRs like family. I even saw one guy high-five Donatella Versace." 

"Sean is probably my favourite of all the photographers, he encompasses everything scary, intense, surreal and amazing about fashion week." 

"I love the idea that the exclusivity of this image is totally undercut by the fact that everyone has an iPhone." 

"To me, fashion week feels a roaring, sparkling, travelling circus. It crashes into town in a spectacular way. You get swept along on a schedule of press passes, Uber receipts and bad Metro decisions, and end up forgetting your door code."