The trick for me for surviving the frenetic sidewalks of New York Fashion Week is slowing down, taking fewer pictures of fewer people passing by, and concentrating my attention instead on interacting in a more meaningful way with a select few. This is not fashionable these days. Most of the photographers out there have taken their cue from Adam Katz Sinding, Nabile Quenum, and the scores of other black-clad cool kids who run (quite literally) up and down the sides of the roads to get their shots. If you ask them, they'll say they have to run. Otherwise they'll miss everything. But this is not at all obvious to this observer. Tommy Ton doesn't run. He hangs back with his giant zoom lens, snaps when he sees something interesting. Nam doesn't run. He sits on the curb waiting, rangefinder cupped in his palms, like a seasoned street photographer of days past. Phil Oh doesn't run. He just sort of slowly meanders through the crowd. And Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist, sure as hell doesn't run. He just ain't that desperate for a shot. He's taken to cruising Manhattan, Bill Cunningham style, on a vintage, army green bike, hanging outside a show for a while, then moving on. The runners, no matter what they tell you, like to run. They like approaching photography as a competitive sport. They like the adrenaline rush. They like the kind of shots it produces: jagged angles, dismembered body parts strewn across the frame.
Most of the time, it's all in good fun. Yesterday, however, outside the Jeremy Scott show at Skylight at Moynihan Station, one of the Korean street style photographers took a serious spill chasing Susie Bubble. When the crowd cleared, I saw him curled up against the curb, unable to move, his knee apparently broken. Photographers moved immediately to help him. It was, in fact, rather heartwarming, like we were suddenly all part of a team, instead of a bunch of individual competitors. He soon had an icepack, his leg propped. I called 9-1-1 and talked to an almost completely unhelpful dispatcher who couldn't seem to figure out where Skylight at Moynihan Station was. "You know, across from Penn Station in the big old post office. 33rd and 8th." "Foynihan Station?" asked the dispatcher. This was not a good sign. With a congested 33rd Street to contend with, the crowd of photographers decided to lift him up and carry him to an Uber, rather than wait for an ambulance to push its way through the crowd. It shook me up for a while, as it did for some of the other photographers. But it also increased my respect for the people out there. As Tyler Joe, photographer and editor for Elle and Marie Claire told me the other day, this is a group that hangs out together in NYC, London, Milan, and Paris for two months out of the year. "We are a big happy family," he said, at least for those months. It doesn't always feel that way, with all the frantic running and crouching, dashing across intersections to get in front of a style star. But when a man goes down — which happens far less often than you might think — people will come immediately to his aid. Fashion Week may be a circus, but that doesn't mean it's chaos. Circuses after all, need a lot of cooperation to pull off.