A Party Photographer’s Guide to Fashion Week

Around 1 a.m. last Friday, a dense crowd of hipsters mobbed the front door of the Maccarone art gallery in Manhattan’s West Village. Raging inside, emitting occasional puffs of smoke and music onto the sidewalk, was an unofficial New York Fashion Week party co-hosted by Richardson, the haute-streetwear label, and PornHub, the Web’s largest pornography site.

It was a hot ticket on a warm, dry night. But outside, event photographer Billy Farrell was slipping into a Patagonia rain jacket, pulled from his backpack. “I wear this in case anybody sweaty wants to hug me,” he said.

It was the fifth stop of the night for the ubiquitous party-razzi, who has built his Billy Farrell Agency into the country’s leading chronicler of fashion and celebrity nightlife. Starting in 2000 as a protégée of New York social photographer Patrick McMullan, Farrell and three partners—David X. Prutting, Neil Rasmus, and Joe Schildhorn—launched their own business in 2010. Several thousand parties later, Farrell knows all the tricks for navigating a long night of Fashion Week events. Over eight hours of party-hopping last Thursday, he shared them, along with war stories about his celebrity nemeses like Leonardo DiCaprio and Bill Murray, and that time he mooned Beyoncé.

Farrell’s Thursday began just before 6 p.m., when he reported for duty at the Calvin Klein show.

“As house photographer, my job is different to the photographers who are invited press,” Farrell explained. “Their motivation is to sell photographs. It’s about, ‘okay, Cindy Crawford’s sitting in a chair and I’ve got to go get her.’ But [Calvin Klein Chief Creative Officer] Raf Simons has his dream and his design, and I need to, as a house photographer, work out what the client needs.”

It turned out that what the client needed was also a fair amount of shooting celebrities in…

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