Accredited photographers insist they just want more vetting—and their rightful place back. “I will not waste my company’s time if I’m on second or third row or in a back position on a riser, then I can’t give my agency a marketable image. My image is preset at a price based on what my agency’s expenses are including my salary. So they can’t give it away. I’m in jeopardy. We’re all in jeopardy,” said the photographer drafting the memo. (Paging 2007, says everyone in media.)
In prior seasons, explained Ms. Mallis, the media riser is typically filled with “Photographers who shoot for credible places” and people who are “grandfathered in because everybody knows who they are and they’ve been shooting for years.” The pecking order of the riser can be every bit as hierarchical as those rows of white chairs, with photogs using tape to indicate their spot—something bloggers may not have picked up on. “They have their own system and they figure out who sits where and who does what and that’s part of the mix of the photographers’s pit. The conflict and energy you get with these gruff men and women on the media riser juxtaposed against the well-heeled audience is part of the experience of a fashion show,” said one PR insider, adding, “Ultimately these photographers from the agencies, most of whom are freelancers that get paid only when their images are used-I don’t want to say have less reach-but they have a different kind of relevance than they used to in the past.”
PR Consulting, the firm where Mr. Beamon works, represents MADE Fashion Week, an alternate to the IMG-run affair that was launched to support young designers in 2009. In a statement to The Observer, Made explained that bloggers are essential to reach what they claim is 11 million viewers through its digital platforms, noting, “Made does not grant access to any shows for specific bloggers, but rather representatives who capture content that is then aggregated to specific sites such as Tumblr, Milkmade.com, or the MADE Fashion Week app.” Ms. Brankin had a different theory, “It seems they’re in bed with Tumblr for Fashion Week,” she said
IMG, which runs the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, offered the following statement about its vetting process, “IMG takes the process of registering and credentialing of media seriously and continually updates these processes to be in line with current technology as well as best practices. We review the credentials of hundreds of new outlets each season and attempt to only credential those that are most relevant.”
Organizers from both camps also point out that PR firms for the designers themselves get to decide whom to invite backstage. Besides, the PR insider noted, failing to credential lower tier outlets just prompts them to get around the process by getting a badge from a B or C list designer, “So all of a sudden they’re running around with just the backstage credential and we don’t really have any sort of influence over their movements.”
Add to that the fact that old guard may not be as well-behaved as they think. “They hang out until the very last moment, until I kick them out normally. It’s not that they get their photography and they leave. That never happens. And if it does, it’s because they have another show to go to,” said Mr. Beamon
“It’s clear that bloggers are a significant presence, but I’m not sure all of them are justified in their presence and their sense of entitlement and when they belong and how important they are,” noted Ms. Mallis, who recently discussed this issue with BryanBoy on her Sirius XM radio show.
Of course, she’s been proven wrong before. BryanBoy once tweeted out a link to his 233,000 Twitter followers, “Remember how Fern Mallis said “twitter won’t bring orders for a designer”? well, check this wsj article out.” That was 2009.