Every season I engage in a bit of magical thinking: that this will be the season I’m not seated next to someone who behaves like Taylor Swift at an awards show, indulging in some riser-shaking shimmying the second “Anaconda” comes on the show’s soundtrack. I pray that my view isn’t obscured on all sides by someone’s hulking iPad as they attempt to get that perfect shot, or that I’m not clocked by someone’s enormous bag or forcibly dragged out of the way of a street-style shot (it’s all happened). But I can endure all those trials, and endure them cheerfully, so long as I’m not subjected to the dreaded stream of blurry runway shots on my Instagram feed.
Okay, I admit, this is a #fashionpersonproblem, but it’s also a matter of common etiquette.
Yes, we live in the age of Insta-bait, and fashion designers may be using chocolate walls and Stormtroopers to entice us to point and shoot. But for the most part, fashion hasn’t really caught up to the new technology as quickly as one might think. Challenges abound: Runway shows are either incredibly dark or brightly lit to the point that any shot of the runway looks extremely overexposed. The models walk really, really fast. The flashes from the photo pit create a distorting halo of light around the models as they approach. If you’re not in the front row, it’s tough to get a picture that doesn’t have everyone’s iGadgets crowding into the frame without resorting to the dreaded selfie stick; if you are in the front row, you’re sometimes too close to get a pulled-back perspective. (That’s why you see so many shots of a foot reading something like “Killer SHOES, am I right? #nyfw #tuesdayshoesday.”) Presentations, with their added space and time, make for better phone-photography conditions, but all too often, everyone takes the exact same shot of the models posing in front of, say, a faux shipwreck. I’m not saying don’t take a photo; I just wish people sought out better, more creative ways of doing so.
Every so often, I’ve been able to snap a decent shot or turn straw into Insta-gold using a black-and-white filter, but for the most part, we are all terrible photographers. Of course, the blurry runway photo is not really, strictly speaking, a picture — anyone who wants to can see better photos instantaneously online (you can probably get a better sense of the collection online than in the majority of show seats). No, the blurry runway shot is a trophy. It says, “I came, I saw, I sat front row, within 100 feet of Vanessa Hudgens.” (The exception: Print editors of a certain age who barely know how to turn on a computer, but are taking front-row photos as part of some sort of all-hands-on-deck social-media initiative. Do us all a favor and let your spry social-media coordinator handle this one!)
Instagram needs a Fashion Week–only feature, like the surge-pricing pop-ups on Uber, that reminds you of what you are about to do. Does this picture add something to the conversation around the show? Did the person to your left just take exactly the same photo? Can you discern actual human beings or clothes in the photo? If the answer to any of these is no, put the phone down and just smugly text a friend, “Guess where I am?”