News & Runway

Jodi Jones: Diary of a Runway Photographer

Jodi Jones is a photographer and film director based out of New York City. The TV show Women on Top did a full episode on her as a top female runway and fashion photographer in a male dominated field.

Her photography has been published worldwide in magazines such as American Vogue, Time, Vanity Fair, Newsweek, and People Magazine, among others.

She shoots both motion and stills, developing imagery and concepts for advertising campaigns, lookbooks and catalogs. Her clients include fashion houses, fashion retailers, cosmetic companies, and ad agencies.

Jodi is also a contracted photographer for AP (Associated Press).

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Final Days of Fashion Week…

I’d overslept and was running late for the Gottex show so I called Chris, one of my interns, and told him to meet me at Lincoln Center with my equipment and credentials; I knew when I arrived I would have to hop out of the car and run straight to the show.  Luckily I had a few extra tickets, so I made a last minute phone call to invite one of my favorite clients to the show.


I left Chris waiting outside for him, and made a mad dash for the pit.  Gottex is always a fun show to shoot and this day was no exception.  After Gottex, Chris and I went back to the Central Park apartment to gear up for the rest of the day.  While my intern Leriam went off to cover the Odd Molly show, Chris and I stayed behind to send the photos I had just shot for the AP.  Next on the schedule was one of my favorite designers, Anna Sui, followed by Zang Toi, and finally L.A.M.B.

While waiting in the press holding area for the last show of the evening, I took out my camera and snapped a few photos of the crowd when suddenly my Canon 5D Mark 11 stopped working! The words flashed before my eyes over and over: “Error 20 Error 20 Error 20”!  I ALWAYS have at least two cameras on me, but wouldn’t you know, the ONE time I don’t bring my extra equipment, my camera malfunctions!  As I’m trying to figure out this technical catastrophe, security gives us the go-ahead, and the rest of the photographers rush to the pit.  I practically have the camera disassembled at this point, when a stampede of photographers starts pushing and shoving one another to get to the front of the line.  What chaos!


But some of the photographers around me noticed I was having issues with my camera, and then the strangest thing happened: they stopped jockeying for position and actually started HELPING me.  It was such a weird moment, everyone dropped everything to try and help me out.  My fellow photographers were giving me tiny screwdrivers to fix the lens; everyone took a look and offered their advice.  More than one photographer even offered to let me use their spare camera!  And I hadn’t even met most of these people before.  It just goes to show the strange bond photographers have with one another at Fashion Week.  Even though we are always competing for spots and yelling at one another, we are still one big dysfunctional family. 


This year our catchphrase was, “Peace in the pit.”


It was a great finish to a crazy week.  And now I’m looking forward to February.  Haha!


Here are some photos from the final days, from L.A.M.B.  Enjoy!





NYFW September 14, 2011: Day 6

Because the tents were in Lincoln Center rather than Bryant Park this season, I’ve had to travel all the way from my Williamsburg apartment to the Upper West Side every morning.

Luckily, I have a client (who I did a charity calendar for) offer me her Upper West Side apartment to use as teching headquarters. Only 4 blocks away from Lincoln Center – awesome! And to make things even better, she made home-made muffins and hot coffee for my crew and I.  It sure beats sitting in the crammed space at Lincoln Center, paying $800 per week – they are charging photographers to use their media center for the first time this season.

Right now I’m having a glass of wine and working with the crew on our photos.  I have three interns working with me this season.  I call them the "bitchin’ interns" and have given them their own blog: 

Bitchin’ intern Leriam is working on the lookbook of my runway images for a client, intern Chris is trying to figure out Associated Press’ crazy captioning system, and intern Jack, who shot RAW (crazy) is still processing her images from the night before.  

My film director Mark, who has been doing the daily vlogs on me, had to leave town this morning for an unexpected gig…. right in the middle of fashion week!

I’ll probably be up till 5 a.m. again tonight. 

NYFW September 13, 2011: Day 5

Upon waking up Monday morning – if you could say waking up, since I really only slept two hours from Sunday to Monday – I found myself getting frantic calls from PR companies and clients about photos.  This just wasn’t one frantic call from one client, it was multiple clients at once, all needing their images immediately. 

I’ve come to learn over the years that I am not the only one who is going crazy during Fashion Week…everyone goes insane, and nobody sleeps.  When will I have an early night when I can hit a great fashion party?  Maybe on the last day!

Not only do my fashion designer clients need all their images right away, but they want advertising mock ups for the daily mags.  Different magazines request different file sizes, some want cropped, others only uncropped, photos have to be captioned, and specific metadata also included when sending to AP (Associated Press). 

Some designers want to immediately print a lookbook, which has to be layed out in the middle of the night. Photos have to be sent to print labs so they have prints for coterie, and one designer I shot house for hated the monitor that was in the back of the runway provided by the production company, so all of those images had to be retouched to remove it before going to press! 

The list goes on… and me and my crew have to find time to do all of this in between shooting the shows.

Here’s one of the ad mock ups, with the monitor in the background removed:

NYFW September 12, 2011: Day 4

After not going to any shows on Sunday morning, I worked on editing photos till around noon, then headed back over to the Waldorf Astoria for the final day of the Couture Fashion Week shows. 

I was hired as the "house" photographer for all the Couture Fashion Shows… which basically means that I HAVE to get a shot of every look for every designer.  I shot about twenty-two couture shows in three days (front, back, details, beauty) and also had a crew to cover front row, backstage, celebs on red carpet, scene, and artistic video.

However, this final day was going to be a challenge, since I was also scheduled as the house photographer and videographer for fashion designer Walter Baker.  I went to the Waldorf to set up my crew, and asked another runway photographer, Irina Kulik, to take over while I went off to shoot Walter’s show. 

I had Irina all set up in the pit in my usual spot – front and center – but as soon as I started to leave, a fight broke out, because other photographers were trying to take Irina’s spot.  Once I came back and settled the fight, I was on my way to Walter’s show in Chelsea. 

Going in, I knew it was going to be hard doing both gigs, since it meant double the work and editing.  I had a video crew shooting different angles in the pit, one person backstage, and a new person shooting celebs.  I’d requested a lighting test before the show, which is a rarity, unless you are the house photographer. 

Most of the time, as a photographer, you walk into a venue to shoot the show without knowing what the lighting will be like.  Most of the time it is tungsten lighting, but occasionally they use daylight spots, and this is important to figure out right away by looking at the type of lights mounted on the ceiling. 

Usually I shoot at a 640 iso, 1/1320 @ an f4, but depending on the venue, I might have to change my manual settings each time the model walks down the runway, as the back of the runway is usually 1 stop different than the front of the runway. So I might shoot at a shutter speed of 1/320 in back, and a 1/250 in front. 

For some shows, I might have to change settings as many as three times per look (front, center, back).  Such was the case all week at the couture shows in the Waldorf.

Walter’s fashion show was packed, and it became a little crazy at times juggling two crews (stills and video), but I got all the images that I needed.  After that show, I ran back to the Waldorf to check on my crew, and found that one of the photographers just decided to leave and go home. He didn’t notify me – he just left, and we were short one photographer. 

Another photographer started freaking out in the pit, because someone had just stolen his Canon 5d Mark 11 and 70-200mm lens – about $5,000 worth of equipment. Then one of my photographers ran up to me screaming that I must come with him right away and help him talk to security about kicking another photographer out of the venue for intentionally elbowing my celebrity shooter, and pushing her so she couldn’t get the shot.

Whew…. all of this madness, just to deliver pretty photos?!!!

Walter Baker Spring Collection 2011

NYFW September 11, 2011: Day 3

Is it Tuesday, Friday, or Monday?  Oh that’s right, it’s Saturday.  This thought process basically sums up my mind during fashion week, especially this season.  I find myself not sleeping, not eating much, and just sitting at my computer screen late in the evening until my head and eyes can’t do it anymore…. to be continued. Enjoy the video!

NYFW September 10, 2011: Day 2

It’s only the second day, and I find myself not sleeping, and being backed up with photos and work that needed to be done.  My film director, Mark, was working on a short video for my blog, which turned out awesome!  There will be more to come.

Since I was sleep deprived and work was piling up, I opted not to go to the tents, so I could finish some stuff on Friday morning.  I called my interns and told them to meet me at the Waldorf Astoria to kick off the Couture Fashion Week. 

When I got there, I was running on an empty stomach, and dying for some food.  One of my old photographer friends, Nicholas, gave me half of his Subway sandwich that he had gotten that morning.  It was pretty soggy, but delicious, since it was the first thing entering my stomach all day. 

I could have gotten some pizza, which was PILED up backstage, but they had a security guard blocking it and they wouldn’t budge to give me a slice.  They said it was for the models and hair and make-up people, but since when did models start eating backstage, anyways?  Before one of the shows got started, I got everyone a round of chardonay – aka I was drunk after one glass. 

We covered seven shows last night at the Waldorf Astoria, which resulted in a total of 5,000 images, and it was already midnight.  All of them had to be touched up and sent out by morning.  My intern Chris looked at me with droopy eyes and sex hair, saying "That’s fucking crazy…"  I knew I had four to five more hours of editing ahead, and I was already nodding off.

The gowns last night were a lot of elegance mixed with gaudiness.  It was almost luxurious, since in the pit they gave us chairs, and the photographer in front of me me bought me a coffee and a pastry – a total 180 turnaround from yesterday.  That’s an unusual experience.

And tomorrow, I’ll do it all over again.

NYFW September 9, 2011: Day 1

Every September, there is a sort of buzz that goes on through New York City – maybe its the end of summer, or the start of Fall. But one of the most important events that goes on in September is Mercedes-Benz Spring Fashion Week. 

I’ve been shooting Fashion Week for over 10 years now, so I guess you could considered me one the true veterans of the pit. 

Ever since I started shooting fashion and runway, all the shows have been at Bryant Park, but this year it’s different.  IMG moved the events to Lincoln Center, and that is where my journey began today.

Upon arriving at Lincoln Center, I was anticipating some sort of mass chaos or confusion.  However, I was totally wrong. 

My crew and I got there  around 7:45 a.m., where we were originally told that we had no backstage access for the Nicholas K show. However, I always try for backstage, even if I’ve been denied via email.  I walked up to the registration table, and there I was on the list, along with three of my crew members.

Once we got inside, we started staking out our "territory" for the week by marking our spots with tape on the riser.  This all abruptly stopped when our two black markers ran out of ink.  After jumping from show venue to venue, we had to pass by security, and I found myself in a "no press" area, where they were pre-taping Project Runway’s season finale.  

We started checking our lighting and taping our spots.  All of a sudden, I got a tap on my shoulder from the Lifetime Producers, yelling at me for being there. 

Then they proceeded to tell me that if I didn’t erase all my photos and sign a confidentiality agreement, I would be sued for five million dollars by Lifetime.  We deleted our images, signed the agreement, and our asses were kicked out.  Oh well.

Next, I ran over to Nicholas K’s show to talk to a member of my crew.  Suddenly, one of my esteemed co-photographers, known as "totally cool Richard", started yelling at me for invading his space.  I told him I was not shooting, and just talking before the show started.  He started to flip out, and that’s when I lost it. 

After a rocky start trying to mark my spots, I snapped and told him to "f" off, and it was only 90 minutes into the first day.  Usually, I don’t lose it until day 6.

Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come.  After making sure I had plenty of Xanax on hand, I plunged into my first big show of the day.