How does Sonny Vandevelde get ‘the shot’? Sometimes the process is simple. He just asks the girls and boys to smile. But a lot of it comes down to knowing what to look for.
“We’re here to document the moment, not make the moment,” is what the photographer reminds juniors starting out backstage. There’s a story there, you just have to keep your eyes peeled. True to form, Vandevelde’s imagery relies on authenticity, motion, and technique, key for the person behind the lens who dares to capture the image that will define a space in time.
Like recording an extreme sport, photographers working backstage are moving along with subjects as they progress from fashion week in one city to the next. And as it turns out, if you’re going to catch the girl beaming from ear to ear, chances are it might not be after her first walk down the runway but it’ll definitely pop out after she makes her Prada debut.
“There are seasoned catwalk models, but every season there’s always going to be a new girl,” says Vandevelde. “A 16-year-girl from Liverpool who was discovered while she was shopping in London and four months later she’s about to walk her first every show. Fast forward three weeks later and she’s in Milan, and she’s already walked some shows but now she’s about to walk Prada. You can see the nervousness before they go on – but then that elation and excitement when they come off the runway and that joy on their face, it’s just beautiful to be able to capture that moment. You can’t replicate that.”