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Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo: A war zone for photographer Cynthia Anderson

by

Contributing Writer

Name: Cynthia Anderson
Age: 43
Nationality: American
Occupation: Fashion photographer
Likes: Shooting backstage
Dislikes: Mayonnaise


1. What do you wear to fashion week? The most unglamorous things you can imagine. For photographers fashion week means mock military manoeuvres with us lugging our heavy gear around, marching across the city and grabbing rest, often on the ground, where we can.

2. Which designer’s shows always make for the best shots? I love the showmanship of Amazon Fashion Week Tokyo where they really think about staging. Past favorites that come to mind include Facetasm, Mint Designs, Onitsuka Tiger × Andrea Pompilio and Alice Auaa.

3. What is it like in the photographer’s pit mid-show? If everything is going as planned, then you will only hear the clatter of shutters. If something is going wrong, then there is a lot of swearing — but only in English and Italian!

4. What makes a show a nightmare to shoot? Lack of adequate light, narrow runways and models that only walk up one side on a dreaded U-shaped runway.

5. What is your biggest worry as the lights dim for the start of a show? Do I have the correct memory cards in? I am always jet-lagged, so forgetting to switch my card and running out of memory mid-show is a real threat.

6. How many shots do you have to sort through for each show? Around 500.

7. How much gear are you carting around on a daily basis? Two full frame bodies, an external flash, at least three lenses, one monopod, one “turtle” (a small plastic stepladder). In all, it weighs about 12 kilograms.

8. What are you doing in your down time during the week? Trying to find speedy internet so I can upload photos to the photographic press agency, Rex Features, and trying to squeeze as much shopping and sushi-eating in as humanly possible.

9. How does Tokyo compare to other fashion weeks? Tokyo is my favorite. The shows are more creative, the week is better organized and I adore the other photographers who shoot here. I look forward to it each season. I love the frenetic energy of Tokyo.

10. What is your fashion week fuel of choice? Double lattes from Gorilla Coffee in Shibuya.

11. Where do you wind down in Tokyo after a long day? I lay face down on the floor in the press area of Hikarie Hall, the venue for fashion week, and cry from exhaustion.

12. What is your favorite fashion week photo you have ever snapped? For Japan? Yoshikimono Spring 2016 was a super fun show, with amazing hair and beauty. I shot a very imperfect final walk shot on the runway, which I love.

13. If you weren’t a photographer what job would you be doing? Beat poet, but that doesn’t pay well, so fashion photographer it is!

14. Where is the best place to snap street style in Tokyo these days? I love shooting the fashion week audiences as they come in to Hikarie Hall. All the audiences really dress up here and brand loyalty is so huge, it’s fun to see an entire audience wearing the current season of a particular designer.

15. What is the first thing you do when you arrive in Tokyo each season? I go to the Tokyu Hands store usually to buy extra clothes hangers and any brand new beauty products that aren’t available in the U.S., then to Cat Street in Harajuku for gyōza (dumplings).

16. Do you have a favorite Japanese word or phrase? “大丈夫” (“Daijōbu.” “It’s OK”) is my favorite, as it’s usually the answer I get from other photographers when they are kindly allowing me to squeeze into a small space near them on the photographer’s riser at a runway show.

17. What advice do you have for young photographers looking to go pro? White balance, foot down, clear face — Don’t start trying to do “artistic” runway shots until you have these three things mastered.

18. If you had one wish at your disposal, what is your heart’s desire? I feel l should say world peace, but in truth it would probably really be backstage access for any show I wanted, forever.

19. What is your biggest cause of stress? Have you seen the state of American politics? It’s second only to not being able to understand directions to fashion shows in obscure locations.

20. What brings out the best in you? A challenge — something others say “can’t be done.” That always pushes me to work harder and figure it out.

Follow Cynthia Anderson on Instagram @stylewylde.