With another New York fashion week officially in full swing, the requisite onslaught of street style moments, swanky parties, celebrity-filled events, and runway shows has begun. (And that’s not to mention the impending flurry of awards shows and red carpet events.) There to capture all the magic is BFA, the New York-based photography agency formed in 2010 by Billy Farrell (whose initials make up part of the company name), Neil Rasmus, Joe Schildhorn, and David X Prutting. With a philosophy of “images matter,” BFA has long been the go-to for photos from the biggest events, like the Met Gala.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an event in New York City—or Paris, or L.A., where the agency recently opened up a branch—at which one of BFA’s lensmen isn’t in attendance to visually chronicle it. It’s not difficult to spot a BFA image; Milk’s Mazdack Rassi, for instance, has touted the agency for producing “richer” work than anyone else in the game.
“We have an internal slogan we throw at each other when discussing post-production: ‘Make it pop!’,” Farrell said. “If the images don’t pop on the computer screen, nobody’s going to want to run them in a magazine.”
Farrell added that the general goal among BFA’s sharpshooters is to tell a story first and foremost. “It’s not just about celebrity full-lengths and creating pictures that will sell in the weeklies,” he said. “When you’re neck-deep in a cluster of photographers mobbing a Jenner, it’s easy to forget that there are 162 other photos that need to be created to tell the full story of the event.”
Of course, “mobbing a Jenner” (or snapping a photo of any other celebrity, model, or industry figure, for that matter) requires more than just shoving a camera in their face—Schildhorn said a big part of what makes BFA different from other agencies is its unique relationships with said individuals. And, obviously, trust. “Being the official photographer at an event provides a level of trust with guests, which enables them to let their guard down, which in turn allows for relationship-building,” he said.
“Trust is everything,” Farrell continued. “If your subject or talent trusts you, you’ll be able to create a better photo where that trust shines through.” But, he said, “these relationships take years to build, but can easily break in an instant.”