Shooting The Runway At London Fashion Weekend

Having never shot a fashion show, it was great to have the chance to do this at London Fashion Weekend, courtesy of Calumet and Canon. Just a first experience but some personal insights follow. Here are three key tips I picked up on the day.

  1. Return to manual. With lighting constant throughout the catwalk, it’s easy to control exposure (if needed) with the simple roll of a dial.  Shutter speeds of 320 stop any movement with ISO at circa 1000 to compensate.  Check with the lighting crew for colour temperature to set white balance (e.g. 2900 kelvin). All that’s left to do is to compose your shot.
  2. Get in step. Models tearing down the runway look elegant in flight but still shots need to capture a sense of motion whilst maintaining form and grace. Shoot with their leading foot down and trailing foot following to avoid awkward stances. That gets to a standard catwalk shot, but what next?
  3. Find an angle. A group of twenty photographers hemmed in a 10-foot pen will inevitably lead to the same shots.  Shooting across the catwalk to catch a darker background or looking for something different and interesting could set you apart.

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The photographers’ pit is filled with limitations. Once you are in place, you can’t move (even three inches to your left is a struggle). Changing lenses is near impossible in the dark with elbows being unleashed around you.

My position was toward the back on the very right to allow me to lean out and shoot across the catwalk as well as straight on. The down side is that the models tend to look to the centre of the pit where the TV cameras take their feed. What soon occurred to us all is that no position is perfect. Each has its advantages and constraints.

So, take your position, set your camera and make it work for you.

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