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Photos and text by Walter Grio. South Beach.

During fashion week in New York, they hand out free Diet Cokes. For swimsuit fashion week in Miami, they have a free Skyy Vodka bar. Need I say more?

This was my first time in Miami, ever, and I can honestly now understand why LeBron would take his talents to South Beach. In a heartbeat, I would totally do the same. And I’d probably do a three hour special on ESPN and then give all the proceeds to charity.

The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week SWIM 2012 Miami event was held at the Raleigh Hotel on South Beach and there were two tents where the shows were held called CABAÑA GRANDE and OASIS. In between these two tents was a large resort type swimming pool with palm trees and several outdoor bars. There was no shortage of adult beverages. Lounging around this swimming pool were some of the most beautiful people you’ve ever seen. And we’re not even talking about the models.

With the beach all around you and beautiful people on your sights, one would think this would be paradise. And it is. But when you’re photographing a major fashion production such as the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, it is not all paradise. Just as in New York, there is plenty of waiting. I do have to admit that the free Skyy Vodka bar helped alleviate some of the waiting. But at the same time, I’m quite surprised I didn’t pass out in between shows. =)

Unlike New York, when you’re waiting to get in a show in Miami, you’re actually standing on a sandy beach with all of your photography gear. And when you’re carrying a ton of gear, the beach starts to feel like a desert. After a while, you can hear other media folks screaming “Just let us in!” and “Oh my God, I’m gonna die out here.” At first you laugh at them because how silly can you be when you’re out here photographing fashion week featuring swimsuit models and there’s a free Skyy Vodka bar? But I do know what they mean. I would have preferred to be mingling with the pretty people rather than wait in line with other photographers to save my spot only to stand tightly next to them on the media riser like sweaty sardines.

In some ways, they are correct. It is a ton of work and you do have to wait an awfully long time to get in the air-conditioned tents. And of course, once you get in the air-conditioned tents, you have to wait some more. It is quite inevitable that there’s waiting involved when it comes to a fashion show.

Considering that this was only my second Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week event, I was pretty pleased with all of my shots. I learned a lot while shooting the one in New York so I applied those lessons in this one. The first one was to bring my wheeled Gator hard case so that I didn’t have to carry my gear. I could wheel them around like a suitcase. Unfortunately, this lesson also generated another lesson – you can’t wheel things around when you’re on a beach. When you’re in Miami, bring a backpack.

However, I was able to use my hard case while I was on the media-riser. I could stand on it and give me an extra foot or two to be higher and shoot over the other photographers. Brilliant. The other lesson I learned was to have a monopod. This is similar to a tripod except it has one leg and it is quite helpful to get steady shots. But more importantly, when you’re shooting six shows back to back to back, it can definitely help lighten the load.

Overall, it was a great trip. I didn’t think I would notice the difference between the swimsuits. By the end of each night, I could actually tell which were better and how they were different from each other. Then again, maybe it was because I was stopping by the free Skyy Vodka bar every single time after each show.







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