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In 2012, Joshua Woods first picked up a camera for fun and started shooting people on the streets of New York at Lincoln Center during New York Fashion Week. "I remember shooting a bunch of my friends," recalls the Harlem native. "They all had really good style and taste. I sort of helped to shape a community of people. When they would see each other, they would say, 'Hey, you know Josh, don’t you? I saw you on his blog.'"
Nearly four years later, Woods has become a highly respected fashion photographer, transitioning to the backstage to capture the moments between models hit the runway. In between shots of designers like Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld and outspoken male model Adonis Bosso, Woods started filming the scenes backstage. Since it was his first time backstage in another country, the excitement led him to "document it" in a way that would allow him to fully grasp the moment. That footage became the photographer’s short film First Looks, which follows his time backstage during Paris, London, Milan, and New York Fashion Week. He also keeps a running backstage fashion diary on his Instagram account. Altogether, it’s high-fashion in motion. (Watch the film above.)
Woods is fascinated with fashion photography because, as he puts it, "fashion reflects a moment in society." In his eyes, because of the rise of digital media, youth culture and the "rule breakers" are being pushed into the limelight. "I created this film to give people a deeper look into fashion, and what I do when I'm covering fashion week around the world," says Woods, 29. "Most of the footage is really from my European travels. It captures those in-between moments that most people don't really get to see. I think most people see the beautiful side of fashion week but not the crazy moments."
"A lot of times people don’t see the other side of it," he adds. "They’ll see the action but not the movement."
First Looks catches the high-energy and fast-paced moments behind the runway, where designers and models work to highlight the season's best new looks. In addition to providing a personal view of the fashion world, Woods' film also glimpses into how he became a photographer. "Growing up in Harlem and going to an all boys Catholic high school, presentation was always important," says Woods of how his interest in fashion started in grade school in New York City. His break into the industry came when he told a friend he wanted to be a professional fashion photographer. "My buddy's wife had worked at Ford Models and I had been telling him that I wanted to pursue photography, so he introduced us," he says. "I had no real work experience. The following week, she said, ‘Come to my office,’ and gave me about 15 Ford Models to shoot. It really took off from there."
Eventually, Woods realized that mere photography wasn't enough. It was the home videos Woods’ mother took of him and his siblings that inspired him to start thinking about filming the shows. “As kids, my siblings and I would always gather around the television and watch her family films,” says Woods. "We always looked forward to it. I think back to those moments when I think about how to document the fashion shows."
In representing the moments that happen off the runway, Woods’ film and photography bring more visibility to how models and designers work together to create presentations that influence the way society dresses from one season to the next.
All photos above taken by Joshua Woods. See more of Woods' work at on his official website.