What’s It Like Photographing an Art Fair?

“Was that who I think it was?”

Trying not to look too much like a stalker, I kept track of the man who just walked past me on his phone with his pulled down Boston Red Sox hat.

He turned a corner. I recalled the words of Daryl Zero when he said, “The best way to follow someone without being noticed is to arrive where they’re going before they do.” I turned a different direction and quickly walked down another aisle, and as I came around the corner, there he was, talking to one of the gallery owners…

I’ve been photographing Frieze New York Art Fair for The Art Newspaper for six years now. It’s a lot of fun. I get to return to my photojournalism roots for a few days. The hustle and bustle of working on daily editions and meeting deadlines. It refreshes some of my instincts that can sometimes get dulled by working on events where you know the schedule weeks or months in advance.

I’ve worked on a lot of these fairs, including The Armory and Art Basel Miami. People always ask me, “What’s it like? Do you get to look at a lot of art?” Well, this is basically what it’s like for me:

Yea, that’s about how fast the week goes by for me.

It’s a flurry of activity. There’s the occasional down time where I can go and look at the works on display, but that always has to be balanced with getting the necessary shots for the day’s issue by the deadline. Sometimes things come up last minute…or, you get a report of celebrity in the fair and you need to put on your paparazzi hat…

Yep, the guy I was talking about at the beginning of the post was John Krasinski! Lot’s of celebrities show up to these events. Leonardo DiCaprio regularly comes by, though he hasn’t been there the last couple of years. That’s fine if Leo doesn’t want to come, we’re happy to have Black Widow herself, Scarlett Johansson..

And former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

I’m sure some celebrities see me walking around with my camera and think, “Oh God, another paparazzi!” When I see the photos that often get published, I don’t blame them. However, and this is my oath to any celebrity whoever sees me with my camera. I will NEVER post/publish/send to an editor any photo of you that is embarrassing or not up to my standards. I love taking pictures of happy people, and, after all, you’re people too…

And, yes, spotting celebrities is fun and all, but the week is about telling stories. That’s why I enjoy it so much. I get to tell stories through photos.

Did you go to Frieze NY this year? If so, what was your favorite piece? Let me know in the comments! If you’re looking for a photographer who is used to working on tight deadlines and knows how to craft a story using images, you should get in touch with me right now!

self portrait

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