Backstage with Joanna Toto, NYFW 2016

POSTED BY Joanna Toto on 2016/03/23

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The talents of our photographers reach beyond the scope of the wedding world, which is a quality that we take great pride in. ILS photographers are involved in an array of documentary work – from travel to humanitarian to fashion. We are also fine artists with backgrounds in painting and art history, representing a broad scope of experiences that uniquely enhance our approach to wedding photography.

Before we find ourselves in the throes of Wedding Season, we’re taking this week to recognize the work of one of our photographers, Joanna Toto. With an eye for style, artistry and form, it came as no surprise to us when she was hired as the house photographer for several emerging designers during New York Fashion Week. Having full backstage access before and during the shows, Joanna artfully captured what goes on behind the scenes, producing a series of beautiful, candid imagery.

We asked Joanna a few questions about her experience shooting at NYFW, and how her experiences shooting weddings and backstage inform one another.

ILS: Tell us a little about what you were hired to do during NYFW.

Joanna: I was hired as the house photographer for each of these designers, which is so wonderful because it allows you backstage access for hair/makeup (outer circle) all the way up to when the models get dressed into their first outfits (they call it First Looks). To have access back there is reserved for only a tiny group of photographers, the ones shooting for major magazines like Vogue and the house photographers.

ILS: Who are the designers you shot for? 

I shot backstage and First Looks for Dion Lee, Jonathan Simkhai, Prabal Gurung and Pyer Moss. I shot show also for Prabal Gurung,  Pyer Moss, and Desigual. I shot show only for Naeem Kahn. I would consider most of these designers to be a part of the New Guard (except for Naeem Kahn, which was established in 2003), pushing fashion forward, each with their own distinct point of view rather than borrowing from others.

ILS: In your work , have you noticed that fashion photography and wedding photography intersect? Does one ever influence the other?

Joanna: I have to say that shooting weddings has really made me a better backstage photographer. You are thrown into a very chaotic environment, often in extremely tight spaces, and you are totally on your own in all respects, from where to keep your gear to what to shoot. Shooting weddings has [also] made me confident in any lighting situation, which then leaves me open to think more creatively in how to capture the same subject (that the famous backstage photographers are also shooting) to make it my own.

ILS: Do you have a specific technique that you rely on when you’re shooting?

Joanna: A lot of photographers backstage have their own distinct technique. For example, one of them uses a harsh spotlight so there is no mistaking that that shot is hers. Another uses some kind of mirror, multi-image filter in post-production. These photographers produce beautiful work, but I personally prefer to shoot in a way that is not limiting and reliant on any specific technique. My goal is for my work to be timeless. 


Take a look through all of Joanna’s backstage NYFW photos by clicking the gallery link above, and check out some of her featured weddings.

Photos by Joanna Toto


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