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Fashion Week Through Her Lens: Bridget Badore On Her First NYFW

NYFW fashion week the style line

Photos by Bridget Badore for The Style Line

Interview by Rachel Schwartzmann

“I guess that’s probably one of the biggest challenges of photographing fashion,

Bridget Badore, our contributing photographer shared in our interview below, “…giving the photograph a life outside of just the clothing on the model.” Much like the event of NYFW itself, our approach to covering this week has been in constant evolution. If you’ve been following us from the beginning, you’re aware that our most recent coverage has been through our Virtual Sketchbook partnerships with guest fashion illustrators. We love the idea of placing the focus and attention on someone whose profession or circumstances wouldn’t normally afford them the opportunity to share their honest and unique point of view; and we wanted to get back to the root of that and focus on a medium that in many ways has become prominent in our day-to-day lives. Enter photography and our talented contributor Bridget Badore.

While you may recognize her name in the credits and her dynamic body of work from our stories, Bridget’s relationship to fashion is one she still considers to be in process. A graduate of SVA, with a growing roster of clients, Bridget is no stranger to the world of professional photography. Though when it comes to the fashion industry, Bridget contends that she still has a lot to learn. So, we sent on her a mission to cover fashion week through her lens with the challenge of taking a step back and documenting the honest moments and overall experience of what it means to attend a fashion show in a digital age. In our interviews (which include both a pre-NYFW and post-event conversation) we wanted to hear more of her thoughts on the constant need for documentation, how it affects her approach to photography, and her observations on the overall atmosphere. Below you’ll find our full interview with Bridget, along with her exclusive photo diary that better speaks to her experiences and discoveries during this transitional time for the industry. If we’ve learned anything from Bridget’s observations it is that perhaps the best way to celebrate fashion is to start by looking up, looking closely and remembering to keep things in perspective.

Hi, I’m Bridget!

Outside of photography, I really enjoy reading (Miranda July and Jonathan Safran Foer for books; BustGirls Like Us, and Mossless for magazines), watching what cool feminist ladies (like Tea LeighTuesday Bassen, and Jessica Williams) are doing, finding cool local shops and vegetarian restaurants, doodling text-based drawings, and giving myself (and sometimes my brave friends) hand-poked tattoos. I love honey on everything (even in my coffee… my boyfriend thinks this is a noteworthy thing to add). Lately I spend a lot of time trying to get my cat to love me… I know, I know, I have to let her come to me.I’m from a tiny town in the country in Upstate, New York. I feel like everyone there drives a pick-up truck, and If you turn on the radio, 8 out of 10 stations are playing country music and the other 2 might be playing pop or even gospel music. There was only really one big establishment in my town growing up and it was a gas station, but a lot of people would just hang out there. I can see all of the stars in the sky on a good night.

It’s the kind of place where everybody knows you and nobody really leaves. Both of my parents went to the same high school and even had some of the same teachers as me. It’s a really stark contrast from my life in New York, but I feel like the experience of growing up there has shaped a lot of who I am now, for better or worse. I really value my personal relationships, taking care of my body (or at least trying to), and challenging myself regularly and learning something new every day, which might be why I moved to New York in the first place.

What have you heard about NYFW and what are your thoughts on the event in general?

I’ve always been incredibly intimidated by NYFW. Ever since I moved to the city, I immediately thought that I wasn’t hip or cool enough to participate, so I’ve sort of just hidden myself away and avoided it at all costs, while secretly creeping on my friends and art school classmates on social media while they participate in one way or another. I definitely envied them, and I’ve always struggled with not feeling “hip” enough, which is so silly.

With so much content being put out during this time via Instagram and other photo-sharing apps as a photographer how does this make you feel?

It’s pretty overwhelming. I always feel super guilty during NYFW when I see my instagram feed flooded with all of this content. I feel like I should be out there documenting it in some way, but then I also feel conflicted because there’s already so much being put out there. So then I think, “Hey, I’ll just let everyone else cover this.” Then I open instagram again and see someone post some awesome behind the scenes photograph and I go right back to feeling anxious that I’m not out there doing something. It’s a weird cycle. It probably comes from my years in art school being told that if you’re not out there participating in the culture then you’re never going to be successful (in reference to attending art openings or events). I guess that’s probably true for a lot of people, but it also perpetuates this idea that you constantly have to be doing something, which is crazy. I guess that’s sort of why NYFW has always intimidated me, because it seems like this pool of intense experiences all crammed in to one week, which doesn’t seem healthy.

I think there is this culture of over-stimulation in media, and NYFW is sort of like the prime example of that. It feels like everyone on the internet is posting things, trying to be heard, trying to do something different – it’s exhausting just being on the consumer side of that.

What are you expecting/anticipating as a first time documenter?

Honestly, I have no idea what to expect! In my anxiety-ridden mind, I’m worrying that I’ll get in someone’s way, or that I’ll be wearing the wrong thing, or that someone will yell at me for some reason. Then, on the other hand, I’m really excited to be challenging myself to do something that makes me so uncomfortable. In actuality, who cares if someone judges my outfit or someone tells me to move? This is something that I’ve literally never experiences before and it’ll be really cool to be a part of it. I’m anticipating getting to the end of the week and feeling foolish for being so intimidated. We’ll see I guess!

How would you characterize your relationship to fashion? 

I would say that I have a very nervous relationship to fashion… I sort of feel like an “outsider” to the fashion world, which I totally am – I’m not really involved in the fashion industry at all.
Which is not to say that I wouldn’t love to shoot fashion, but I just feel too intimidated right now. That might have something to do with the fact that I grew up in a town where people would judge you if you wore anything other than American Eagle or Hollister jeans and a tee shirt. I’m still trying to get comfortable with the idea that you can wear whatever you want, and that’s sort of the beauty of fashion, right?

How do you celebrate personal style?

I feel like I don’t, which makes me sad. I buy cute shoes and never wear them because I feel nervous that I “won’t be wearing the right thing,” or something. I’ve been really trying to push myself outside of my comfort zone in that regard. I want to really find my style, and find those go to outfits that really make me feel confident. One thing I have been trying to do in the last year is be more selective about purchasing clothes. I’ve been trying to take a step back and think about what I really want to be saying with my style choices, as well as my buying choices. I’ve been trying to save money to buy one really cool Reformation dress, for example, rather than buying 3 cheap H&M dresses that are just okay. Or spending a little more on one really cute pair of Everlane loafers that I’ll feel confident in, instead of spending a little less on shoes that will fall apart and make me feel frumpy.

I feel really good about that, and slowly but surely my closet will eventually turn in to a place where I can find all of my favorite things, and not just a collection of cheap clothes that fit well enough to wear every day.

POST-EVENT INTERVIEW

After taking a step back and reflecting on the week what are a few of your biggest takeaways?

Being a photographer at NYFW is a really unique experience. It’s been really nice having this opportunity to have a really relaxed approach to shooting through The Style Line, but I imagine how intense it can get. I had a moment at the Noon by Noor show where I looked over to the end of the runway and saw all of the photographers. It was literally just like a wall of people with cameras for faces. I could hear the sound of all of their shutters clicking super fast, it sounded like crickets or frogs chirping outside your window… it was an almost spooky sound. I felt very overwhelmed by the mechanical quality of it.

It’s also very bizarre witnessing this event that every viewer seems to be experiencing through their screen, whether it be a cell phone camera or a camera. I know that there is a certain desire in the age of social media and whatnot to document every experience and all that jazz, but at fashion week there is a lot more urgency. I still feel like a total outsider to the fashion industry, but I feel like maaaaaybe it’s not so scary to step in to the sidelines. I feel comfortable being an outsider and that’s cool! I also feel like photographers and artists in general are allowed a certain amount of curiosity about things, and I should take advantage of that more. This experience may have instilled a new level of confidence in my own skin, having gotten through feeling inspired and having conquered my own anxiety about stepping into the world of NYFW.

In terms of other photographers, what did you notice? Did you get a chance to talk to anyone and how would you like to see photographers being included in the week differently?

I noticed a lot of photographers that seemed to be getting “the shots,” like stock photos – you know? That’s boring, but obviously there is a need for it.

I also noticed a lot of “hip” looking photographers taking photos with objects in front of their lenses to distort the images, carrying film cameras or dainty point and shoot cameras with fun flashes, I even saw a few carrying hasselblads (expensive medium format film cameras) which sort of made me excited but also made me feel a little bit anxious. I started thinking about if I were capturing NYFW on film, how careful and selective I would be about my shots. Now that I’m thinking about it, I would actually really love to do that. I assume that people are really just trying to find a “new” approach to documenting NYFW. Everyone has to find a unique way to look at it, or else their photos are just the same boring shots that everyone else is getting. Maybe that’s why I get anxious thinking about it – if so many people are documenting the same thing, it becomes exponentially harder to create work that stands out.

I guess I would like to see photographers creating more intimate work that tells a more personal story of NYFW, or maybe seeing photographers create images that really showcase moments (I think Rebekah Campbell does a really good job of this). I really liked when Jamie Beck was creating fashion week cinemagraphs a couple of years back – it sort of made you stop and recognize the small moments in between all of the hustle. This isn’t necessarily simply photography related, but I also loved what John McLaughlin was doing with his fuzzy creature gifs. That sort of thing feels so unexpected at NYFW! I’d love to see more lighthearted work like that.

Much of your work is portraiture/lifestyle-focused, what did you learn about shooting more fashion-focused content and interacting with industry mavens?

I reaffirmed my belief that my love of photography comes from a place of intimacy. I really love having a chance to get to know someone when I’m photographing them. Being a part of the NYFW machine made me feel a little bit robotic.

I guess that’s probably one of the biggest challenges of photographing fashion – giving the photograph a life outside of just the clothing on the model. Everything with fashion is so fast paced. I want to challenge myself to get more comfortable with all of the chaos of it.

How would you describe the atmosphere and what was one interesting thing you noticed about other show-goers?

I kind of felt like I was at a party and I didn’t know anyone… haha. I got used to it though. The first show I attended, I was so nervous and was constantly looking around and checking to make sure I was doing the right thing and not stepping on anyone’s toes. By the last few presentations and shows I felt way more comfortable. I still didn’t know anyone at the party, but it didn’t really matter. Even fashion people are human and when you think of it that way it’s not as scary.

I was so nervous about people judging me but literally nobody was even looking at me, which was actually really relieving. I know part of the whole NYFW thing is to be part of the “street style” scene or whatever, but I’m really bad at that so I was happy to remain invisible in that way.

The street style thing is so weird though… there are photographers just waiting outside of every show like a band of vultures clicking their cameras at anyone with anything eccentric about them. It’s a funny concept, thinking about how everyone is assembling their outfits so meticulously, hoping to be noticed at an event where you’re supposed to be focused on the clothing being shown by the designers. It’s kind of cool though, seeing how eclectic everyone’s taste is.

Would you participate in NYFW again and what would you do differently/prepare for the next time around?

I would love to participate again. Once I left my first event (Timo Weiland), I had so much adrenaline and I felt like I had just conquered something. Now that I had been exposed to a real NYFW event, all of my hang-ups and insecurities seemed a little silly and my perspective started to shift. I would love to get a more intimate experience – I mentioned before that I see some of my friends on instagram posting behind the scenes photos, and I’d really love to photograph something like that. I would love to get a more immersive experience. I imagine it would be crazy and stressful and I would be even more terrified going into it, but it would be a new challenge!

Would you say NYFW re-inspired an awareness or love for personal style?

Definitely! I honestly didn’t think I would say this, but I really do feel inspired to carve out my own look after spending some time admiring everyone else’s style throughout the week. I sort of feel like I was way too intimidated before this experience to really express my own personal style; I assumed that I would look silly or frumpy if I tried to pull off looks that I saw other “more stylish” girls wearing.

I would actually find myself making outfit choices in order to blend in – a lot of the time my goal was to be as invisible as possible. Now I feel like I have a little bit more confidence to branch out and wear things that I love. I saw so many people attending the shows that didn’t look like perfect mannequins, that wore their outfits and boasted their personal style unapologetically, and I really admire that. From now on I’m going to be more selective in the choices I make when buying clothes, so that I can fill my wardrobe with pieces that make me feel confident, not invisible. I want to feel like a badass more often, and I want to force myself to find my personal style and feel comfortable boasting it.