At last season’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York, I was fortunate to get a photo of Vogue’s big three: Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington and Tonne Goodman as they looked down the runway at Carolina Herrera’s show. This season, I thought I would try and get Project Runway’s big three: Michael Kors, Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum. So I took the Amtrak train at four in the morning from D.C. to New York hoping to catch the runway show at 9 a.m. I would have left the night before, but I was hosting an event with CUSP in Georgetown for FNO.

As tired as I was from not getting any sleep, I hoped the excitement would carry me through the day. After picking up my press credentials, I stood in line to get in for Project Runway. A few minutes before the show, the producers announced that only certain people would get inside. I wasn’t one of them. It marked only the second time that I didn’t get in a show that I wanted to see.

The next three days proved to be more successful. The highlight would have to be when Valentino walked in before DVF’s show. He stood a few feet away from me and for a moment, I froze. You spend hundreds of hours standing and waiting at the press pit hoping to get a good photo. There are photographers literally sitting on your feet. It is far from glamorous. But when you have the opportunity to photograph Valentino, Anna Wintour, or Diane von Furstenberg as she passes out American flags on 9/11 after her show, you realize that it’s all worth it.

Since 2007, Walter Grio has raised over $77,000 through his philanthropy photo project, Shoot for Change, which has benefited numerous nonprofit organizations. Additionally, he is a regular attendee at the world renowned Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York and Miami. Four of his photographs were selected by Vogue Italia as part of their PhotoVogue collection. Walter resides in Arlington, Va.

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