Discover more from Fashion Strategy Weekly
Through the Lens of Copenhagen Fashion Week with Cynthia Anderson
FSW sits down with creative Cynthia Anderson to chat Copenhagen Fashion Week and what it's really like to be a runway photographer.
Copenhagen Fashion Week (CPHFW) sometimes falls under the radar. For one, it takes place in the middle of the summer. Also, it doesn’t get all the hype or media attention of the major global fashion weeks. Yet, CPHFW is easily one of the most interesting, both in terms of original design and its ongoing commitment to sustainability.
Industry photographer Cynthia Anderson has spent over a decade photographing CPHFW, seeing a wide variety of shows in often unpredictable Danish summer weather conditions. A freelance photographer with over a decade of experience covering fashion weeks in New York, Tokyo, Seoul, and Copenhagen, Cynthia brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her work. She specializes in backstage and behind-the-scenes images for beauty brands and labels and has had her work featured in Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, GQ, Women’s Wear Daily, and many other internationally-recognized magazines and newspapers.
FSW sat down with Cynthia to learn more about her experiences in photographing CPHFW through the years and to dive deeper into what life is like as a female runway photographer.
Q: How does Copenhagen Fashion Week differ from other fashion weeks?
CA: From a photo standpoint Copenhagen is smaller than the big 4 (New York, London, Milan, Paris) with a much, much smaller photo pool. This makes it a more intimate experience. All the professional photographers who shoot CPHFW know each other, and in most cases, we have known each other for 10+ years. We can work issues out smoothly this way, everyone gets a spot, we share step stools and pelicans to stand on if needed, and frequently grab snacks and water for each other when possible.
Q: How has Copenhagen Fashion Week grown or changed since you first attended?
CA: Many of the brands have become internationally recognized on a much wider scale than when I first began shooting here in 2016. Ganni, Stine Goya, Henrik Vibskov, and Baum und Pfergarten were all big labels in Scandinavia, but not necessarily widely known outside of the region. That has changed a lot, and because of it, those shows have gotten much bigger, with much bigger productions, and have a much bigger, and more international audience.
Q: Who are your favorite designers from this season’s shows?
CA: This is probably your toughest question, as it is nearly impossible to choose! I love love love, Stine Goya. Her work is joyful and effervescent and an absolute blast to shoot. I also love love love Henrik Vibskov he is such an artist and a showman and always surprises you with a spellbinding production. These two are so great but of course, so are Ganni, Baum und Pferdarten, Helmstedt, etc. And of course, this season the mega iconic Marimekko showed which was amazing. I honestly can’t pick a favorite.
Q: As a runway photographer, you see everything close up. What are your favorite moments as a photographer?
CA: I shoot a lot of backstage in addition to the runway. My favorite moments always occur when I have been shooting hair and makeup and the models see me as they walk down the runway. There is usually a split second of recognition, where the model looks directly into my lens and you can see a super faint smile of “Oh I know you” in their eyes. To me, this human moment makes the absolute best runway photos.
Q: What are the challenges of runway photography?
CA: Honestly…it’s the misogyny. It pains me to say this, but it’s a little bit worse in Copenhagen than it is in New York. In Copenhagen, there seems to be a widespread belief that to be a professional photographer you must be male. This means that I am constantly having to prove my credentials at every single show, sometimes as non-professional males, who are crashing the show without an invite, easily walk right by me. I find that so frustrating, and to some extent professionally insulting, and it sometimes costs me the best possible position in the photo pit, because I am held up at the door for an extra 5 minutes until the interns can locate the boss who recognizes me.
Q: What defines good fashion design from your perspective of photography?
CA: Unlike in the real wearable world, for fashion show photography nothing matters more than staging. You can make the most beautiful clothes in the world but if stage your show on a short, dark, cramped runway, the photos will never do your work justice. After that for me, it all comes down to color. If you were to ask me to pick my all-time favorite photos that I’ve shot, they would all be from the super color-soaked collections. Black, white, and neutrals may be what I wear at home, but never what I want to shoot.
Thanks for reading FSW. Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support our work.