So, it’s the big moment: you’re ready for the runway.
You know your camera, you’ve got a ticket or a press pass. Maybe you’ve even shot a show or two before? If so, awesome! I want to show you how to shoot a fashion show even better than before.
Before we talk about how to make the most of what you’ve got, let’s go over what should absolutely be in your camera bag for fashion show photography:
- Your camera(s) – duh!
- Your lens(es) – if you’re not sure what to pack, click here to read my rundown on lenses!
- Extra batteries
- Bigger and/or more memory cards than you think you need
- If it’s a big show where there’s not a lot of space for all the photographers, a monopod and/or a collapsible stool can help a lot!
- Maybe a flash for pictures before or after the show, or possibly for backstage photos if you have access. (Keep reading to see why I do not recommend using a flash during the show!)
Bag packed? Great! Now, let’s talk about what you can do to get that extra edge!
1. Have your settings dialed in before the fashion show starts.
If you can get information about the lighting in advance, do. At the Oxford Fashion Studio shows I photographed this and last season, the models started walking only seconds after the lights come on. So it pays to be ready! Sometimes you can’t find out in advance, in which case your best bet is to ask the photographers around you or make whatever educated guesses you can.
If you really have no idea, start out with aperture priority with auto-iso and a minimum shutter speed if your camera allows it. That way you won’t miss the first shots if the models start walking immediately, and you can switch over to manual as soon as you get a pause. Tungsten lighting is pretty common and is a good bet for white balance (but shooting RAW means you don’t have to worry about this one).
2. Runways aren’t always evenly lit, so find the best light.
Especially when you’re photographing smaller fashion shows, there are often spots along the runway where the light is brighter (or dimmer). Don’t change your settings any more than you really need to. Instead, expose for the spot you like the best, and wait for the models to get there.
3. Don’t use flash, and don’t be afraid of a high ISO.
A lot of shows don’t allow flashes at all, and even if they do I wouldn’t recommend flash: the light design is an important part of the show! If you need to push your ISO up to work with the light you have, do it. Having your aperture where you need it and your shutter speed fast enough to freeze the motion is way more important here.
4. Shoot to the beat.
I don’t necessarily mean to the beat of the music, although usually they’ll line up! What I mean is that you should shoot photos to the beat of the model’s walk. You’ll get the most flattering full-body shots right when the model’s foot hits the ground. Pay attention to their walk and shoot as they step to get better images.
Now, go forth and shoot! Good luck, and most of all, I hope you enjoy it—there’s nothing like the energy of a good show!
Are you planning on photographing a show? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Or did you know how to shoot a fashion show already—and do you have tips I didn’t mention here? Let’s chat in the comments!