In search of the cream of the catwalk

The Independent seeks young photographers to follow in the footsteps of Chris Moore.
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Spare a thought for the catwalk photographers this week as the fashion circus mobilises, and they lug their equipment from London to Milan, then to Paris and on to New York to capture the clothes, hair, make-up, fun and frolics of the fashion jamboree. Picture the hours of queuing, and the constant fight for the best spot.

Chris Moore is widely regarded as the Irving Penn of catwalk photographers and, like Penn, he has been taking pictures for nigh on 40 years and still gets a buzz out of it. In the late Sixties he paid salon models pounds 4 to wear couture outfits. Ready-to-wear shows, as we know them today, did not exist in Paris until 1973.

Moore fell into fashion by accident. He ran the studio at Vogue where he worked with, among others, Cecil Beaton, but soon went freelance. From then on he was at every fashion show he could get into. "It was hard; we weren't recognised in Paris, and were treated like dogs. It changed when one man was attacked by a guard and nearly lost his eye." The photographers protested to the Chambre Syndicale (which controls French fashion) and their work was recognised as an official profession.

In the early days there were no auto-focus cameras, and no telephoto lenses. "I used two cameras, one mono and one colour, which I would hold in each hand," says Moore. When supermodels arrived, he recalls, the profession changed completely. The former catwalk photographer for The Independent, Sheridan Morley, remembers when Naomi Campbell fell off her Vivienne Westwood platforms. "That picture was worth thousands for those of us who managed to capture it."

Technology has made the job quicker and easier, but demand for pictures and the sheer number of shows (at least 10 a day) has tripled the stress. Moore admits he becomes a cabbage at the shows. "I keep my cool most of the time, and try to switch off, but you have to be a deviant masochist. It's a funny business," he says with a smile.

Stamina, nerve and a love of fashion are a bonus; but a good eye, quick reactions, and understanding picture composition are essential to a good catwalk photographer.

Competition

The Independent, in conjunction with Clothes Show Live '97 and Fujifilm, is out to find the young catwalk photographer of the year. To enter, think "fashion in action" and get out on the streets with your camera.

Judges include Tamsin Blanchard, Chris Moore, The Clothes Show's Caryn Franklin and a Fujifilm representative. Five finalists will photograph Clothes Show Live '97 on Friday, 5 December; the winning picture will then be chosen.

First prize: Fujifilm GA645 AF Autofocus Camera worth pounds 995, a job with our photographer at London Fashion Week in February, 2 tickets to Clothes Show Live '97, publication in The Independent.

For two runners-up: pounds 200-worth of Fuji Professional film and two tickets to the show.

Rules

l Send three fashion in action photographs to Young Catwalk Photographer of the Year, Fashion Dept, The Independent, 18th Floor, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, by 24 Oct 1997.

l Caption pictures, and include your name and address

l There is no cash alternative

l The judges' decision is final, and the organisers reserve the right to cancel the competition at any stage.

l Winner and runners-up must co-operate fully for publicity purposes if required.

l Entrants must provide their own travel to and from Clothes Show Live '97 on Friday, 5 December 1997.

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