A Guide on Shooting a Fashion Show

Always Prepare First

You need to know your light. Moving subjects don’t do very well in low light, so understanding the environment is the first order of the project. If possible, check with the light engineer and find out what the show light will actually be like. Reaching the venue ahead of time will favor you because you will be able to catch the run-through. Accessing the backstage is usually very hard and unless you are part of the project, try to network beforehand or even during the event to get access. If you do, you will have a great opportunity for some unique shots. Models especially love being photographed so they will be happy to help.

White Balance Needs To Be Right

For a catwalk show, your white balance choice will play a huge role so don’t leave it on auto. This is the one place where you need to get it right on your camera because any corrections after that could change the colors of the designer clothes. This could end up pretty bad because you will probably not get an invite to shoot for that brand again.

You Need a High Shutter Speed

For a runway shoot, anything below 1/320sec will be useless. As far as fashion houses go, any kind of softness for print or online content will be unacceptable. While shooting, keep checking that you don’t nudge it accidentally. There won’t be time to make adjustments during the shoot so ensure you set it at the right speed and don’t go below that.

Increasing Your ISO Could Be a Good Thing

ISO performance on DSLR camera has improved greatly over the years. Most people are afraid of pushing up the numbers due to the noise but you shouldn’t be. Most cameras, even prosumers handle noise issues pretty well as they come with great algorithms designed to counter the noise. A pinch of grain will be worth the kind of absolute sharpness you will get any day.

Get the Right Glass

We can all agree that the lens is an incredibly important part of the camera. I mean, even with the latest camera body, if you are shooting with the 18-55mm kit lens on a dark catwalk, it will be useless. If you intend to shoot fashion, invest in the lens. Fat and bright lenses might be expensive but in the end, you won’t believe how worth they are. You will have better images and eventually, the lens will pay for itself. It doesn’t even have to be the oh so glorious f/2.8, even though it’s the holy grail, as long as it is a fixed
focal length, you are good.

Your Widest Aperture Is Not Necessary

Sometimes, a wide aperture plays a huge role in low-light situations when it comes to conquering speed and light. However, when you use the widest aperture, your depth of field will be shallower and you are likely to lose the finest details of the clothes. Make the shots as sharp as you can.

Set A Focus and Shoot At the Right Time

When it comes to fashion shows, your focus point needs to be at the top of your viewfinder around the models face. Set your camera at a continuous autofocus then use the tracking option to lock her face as she walks towards you. This does not mean you will be looking at her face. On the contrary, your focus will be on her feet and you will release your shutter as her heels hit the floor. This is why at most fashion shows, you hear a cacophony of “clicks” as the models march towards the cameras.

Get to Know Who’s who

Do your homework and get to know the famous faces on the runway. Even though they might be there for seconds, you have to make it count and get the perfect shot. If you are contracted by a client, they probably want to see all the clothes featured so ensure you capture every look.

Double Check Everything

Some things go without saying but check and double check all your gear. Ensure batteries are fully charged, lenses are well cleaned and every body part is included in the kit. Ensure the memory cards are formatted because running out of space on a live job is one of the worst things you could encounter.

Make New Friends

Get to know other photographers in your pit. However, stick to your spot as it can be very territorial with them and the professional ones will probably try to intimidate you. However, if you are friendly, with a good sense of humor, most of them will be willing to help you. You should also ask questions if you have any and you will be surprised at how much advice you may get.