Thomas E. Schmuki Photography

Phone: (954)439-1999 Email:

I photograph events like runway and fashion shows to create ART

Tom SchmukiComment

As most all local photographers, models, fashion designers and event organizers know, most if not ALL participants attend unpaid, free of charge, gratis, etc. This may come as a surprise to some of my followers not involved in the business of fashion and runway photography.  I cannot answer the question for the other participants why they continue to participate in these events for the love of the game.  I can try to attempt this from my own perspective.

When I am asked to come photograph one of these events I am sure the assumption is if I say yes, I am coming with the intent of “covering” the event. 

What does covering the event mean in a fashion show in its entirety?  

  1. Arrive early and take photographs of the models arriving and prepping for the show.  Take photographs of the models, makeup artists, hair specialists, and fashion designers as they do their thing to get ready.
  2. Take photographs of every model in every outfit from every fashion designer.  These photos should include different perspectives from full length, walking the runway, pausing, turning, posing, and returning back from the runway, and of course the last turn around right before they exit the stage
  3. Take photographs of each group of fashion as the runway models and fashion designer walk the stage clapping to the designer(s) for their fantastic work
  4. Photograph the crowd and any special guests attending
  5. Photograph the end of the show, guests and models leaving the show
  6. After event photographs of participants who want pictures with their friends, family, favorite designers, etc.

That is MY definition of covering a fashion show or event.  This normally entails about 800-1500 clicks of my camera.

Let me make this clear and this may be difficult for many to agree with, or even comprehend.  Even though I attempt to photograph the EVENT as described in items 1-6 above, I have NO intent of producing and making available a series of photos with all items 1-6. 

What is my intent?  Plain and simple, if I am not paid to shoot the event, my intent is to create a FEW beautiful works of ART.  If I edit one of your photos I want you to feel like you won the lottery.  This is entirely different than most of my photography peers for whatever reason.  What their intent is regarding covering an event must be answered by them.  

So what are the common requests I get from event attendees, which always results in a somewhat awkward conversation.

  • I want all my pictures, NOW, I need to post them immediately to get the maximum social networking clout.  They usually lead this request with first calling me their friend…
  • Can you send me every picture you took of my design, a specific model, etc.
  • I want every picture that has a model wearing my jewelry
  • etc.

After shooting many, many events and mostly fashion shows over the past number of years I know given my work flow what my commitment is when I say yes to this FREE non paid event.  On average it is about 60 hours of work per event.  I may call it a labor of love versus work.  I painstakingly cull the photos to my chosen few edits, then give a photo all my attention.  The average edit per photo is about 15 minutes and some photos may actually take hours.  I actually portrait retouch nearly 95% of all photos, painting lights and shadows on the face for dramatic and beautiful effects.  I look at the photo with an end result work of art in mind.  How do I get there? What is my vision?  

Have I succeeded and how do I measure my success or failure?  When I notice my participants use my photos for their cover photos or profile photos for weeks and months and many times go back and use it over and over.  That tells me my photo stood out and has VALUE to them.  That makes me very happy!  From an economic perspective I measure my success in these events as an utter failure.  Even after the fact few if none of the participants are willing to pay for edits or beautiful enlargements.  This is perplexing to me but it does smack me in my face that the real value of my work to the participants specifically is $0.  If I ever stop shooting these events, this will be the reason why.

Are you surprised my fellow Colorado friends that 90% of my work or nearly 100% of the work you see me post on social networks is NON paid work.  Luckily I do a LOT of work that I never post including weddings, bar and bot mitzvahs, head shots, group shots, infants, parties, etc.  

As I get closer and closer to my retirement from my daily work as a software developer, I ask you all to help support me in more ways than just a like or heart on my photos.  I will be retiring as early as September 12th (my birthday) or as late as the end of this year.  I will then be a full time photographer and only be doing photography soon.  I ask for your support and believe I have shown the world my dedication to my craft I love so much.

Thomas Schmuki