Kevin Tachman is the all-access backstage fashion photographer trusted by major fashion houses to capture salacious action, model behavior, rare moments of calm, calamity, and pre-show chaos during fashion month. Tachman gets granted exclusive reign of the behind-the-scenes territories at Vetements, Gucci, Balmain, and Chanel, to name but a few. One might wonder how the former MTV marketing exec. gained the trust of the likes of Wintour and Lagerfeld in a few years of high-speed shutterstock action.
Vogue Arabia speaks to the man behind the lens to uncover his secret to behind-the-scenes success (and to note which aftershow party is worth attending).
How did you start out in fashion?
Quite accidentally. I had quit my marketing job at MTV to go on the road with the band Scissor Sisters as their tour/documentary photographer. It was never my goal to be a fashion photographer, but while the band was in between albums I would get invited to the shows in New York and shoot backstage on my own, for myself or as a favor to the designer. I got started on the cusp of web 2.0.
What are the various elements that entice you to want to take a photo?
All the basics: the light, the subject, the clothes, the make-up––all are a part of it. A lot of what I do is fast-paced and you have to create the moment, so you have find something that works for you and get the shot because before you know it, it’s gone.
What is your two-point guide to taking a brilliant fashion photograph?
My goal is to try to take a photo only you can take. Find your eye and connection to the subject that makes it a photo that, when people see it, they’ll know it one of yours.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen backstage during fashion week?
At a recent show the heels were so high that the models were kneeling on the ground to rest after their walk while waiting for the finale because they were in so much pain and couldn’t stand. Also, one time in the middle of a big show a security guard wanted to go backstage, so we went in through the model entrance on the catwalk, during the show! That was a “did that just happen?” moment.
What makes someone photogenic in fashion?
Each person has their own beauty. Either you are drawn to it as a photographer, or not. Showing your personality and letting me know who you are can only help me be more drawn to the possibilities.
Which model has the most enduring appeal, in your opinion?
Marilyn Monroe comes to mind first. She had it all: she was sexy, vulnerable, and the epitome of American culture. More recently, Lauren Hutton at Bottega Veneta was epic, although she was more of an editorial model in her day. It was great to see her in action; a class act all the way.
Best show to photograph?
I have my favorites in each city, but Chanel is always a highlight. The production value, the casting, venue, Karl––what more could you ask for?
Best fashion city for food… Paris for the bread alone. NY for coffee because I’m a Starbucks addict.
For parties… Paris! I thought the Alexander Wang party was pretty epic this season.
What’s next for you?
Taking a nice holiday break!
Vogue Arabia is… Very exciting.
See more Kevin Tachman photography.