Fashion: Young Catwalk Photographer competition

THE HOURS are gruelling. Up to 10 fashion shows a day, each show with at least a 30-minute wait, in sweaty conditions, and lots of kerfuffle of the "move it, you're in my space" nature. But that's just the half of it.

Catwalk photography is not only the art of capturing the moment, it also requires stamina, quick wit and a wily nature. How else are you going to secure the best position among a hundred other snappers with foot-long lenses?

"I try to focus my mind on getting the best pictures," says Ben Elwes, The Independent's catwalk snapper, "but I remember a show in Paris which presented another career opportunity to me, that of balancing on a few boxes: I thought I could join the circus after that."

There are plus sides which include international travel (Paris, Milan and New York), beautiful women (and gorgeous men) to photograph, excitement, fun and frolics, lots of fashion, and a guaranteed view of every show.

"All this to get a few pictures?" you may be asking, and to that the answer is "yes".

When we ran this competition for the first time last year, it was because we believe in the power of good fashion images. They can represent the times, the mood of fashion, the vibe of an event, or that something extra, the indefinable pizazz that cannot be put into words.

That's what we are looking for in this year's entrants - the ability to capture the Heart of Fashion.

The standard of entries for last year's competition was excellent, and our winner, James Moriarty, is likely to go on to great things, as are the runners-up, who all proved their ability by coming up with a set of pictures taken at the same catwalk show which were distinctly different from each other.

So get snapping.!

The Competition

The Independent, in conjunction with BBC's The Clothes Show, The British Heart Foundation and Olympus, is out to find the young catwalk photographer of the year. To enter is simple. Grab your camera and aim to capture the "Heart of Fashion". The brief is open to interpretation, so imagination is a must! A good starting point would be to seek out fashionable happenings - on the street, in a nightclub, in a shop, at a fashion show - and simply be creative. Great fashion and catwalk photography is about capturing a moment, a look and a mood with individuality and style, and we are looking for five young photographers with an interest in fashion to do just that.

A panel of judges including Tamsin Blanchard, fashion editor, and Melanie Rickey, fashion writer, both of the Independent Andrew Lamb, catwalk photographer for Vogue, and representatives from The Clothes Show and Olympus will choose five finalists to attend the event on December 4th for the day where they will photograph a catwalk show in whichever way they choose. The winning picture will be chosen from those taken on the day.

The Rules

Send three "Heart of Fashion" photographs, which can be in any format, and in either black or white or colour, to Young Catwalk Photographer of the Year, The Independent (Fashion), 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14, 5DL to arrive no later than November 25 1998.

Caption each picture and include your name and address.

There is no cash alternative.

The judges decision decision is final

Winners must co-operate fully for publicity purposes if required

Travel costs to and from Birmingham's NEC centre on Friday Decemeber 4th will be covered

Closing date: November 25

We regret that we are unable to return any pictures submitted.

The prizes

Winner: OM 2000 camera plus kit including a lens and flash. Work experience with the Independent's catwalk photographer during London Fashion Week in February 1999. The winning shot will be published in The Independent, and also in Clothes Show Live '99 publicity material. The winner will also receive two tickets to the Clothes Show '98.

Two runners-up each recieve an Olympus IS10, plus two tickets for The Clothes Show. If you would like to visit the event from 4-9 December call the ticket hot-line on 0121-767 4444.

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