How to Shoot a Fashion Show

How to Shoot a Fashion Show

Here are some tips to help you get started in shooting fashion shows.

How I got started:
When I first started photography the first thing I started shooting were fashion shows. Why? Your forced to learn your camera settings faster or you will miss the shot, that’s why! My first fashion show I shot was at the Havana Club. The show was organized by Studio Primetime located in Atlanta, GA. The next show after that was at Lenox Mall, organized by Simon Malls to show case new clothing. At first it was challenging, now it’s fun. One thing I learned is, never to expect shooting a fashion to be a breeze, even if it’s the 40th one you’ve shot.

When you finally decide on going to a fashion show, there are a few things you should find out before attending the event on the scheduled date. Find out how large is the room the show is held in, where will the photographers/videographers stand and shoot at, the lighting for the event(LED, Spotlight, etc.,.), how many models are walking, are there any media passes, and how long will the models be walking the run way. Finding out the room size,lighting and where the photographer stand/shoot at is the biggest concern you should have. This will help you determine the focal length of the lens you need and if you should carry any extra lens. As far as media passes go and how many models are walking are just for convenience.


Brief Summary:
Camera: APS-C or Fullframe
    Zoom: 24-70mm(small building), 50mm-200mm(Large Event), 18-200mm(Unknown)
    Prime: 50mm to 70mm prime, Aperture 1.2 – 2.8
Flash: Speedlight with card or bulb, with fast recycle rate
Equipment: Monopod
Backup: Batteries/SD Cards(#1), Camera body, manual lens



I recommend a zoom over a prime lens for these type of events for two reasons. First, you can shoot at different focal lengths without changing lens. Second, you won’t have to carry a second camera body, even though it’s is recommended. The best zoom lens are usually in the 20-70mm and 50mm-200mm, but you can use an 18-200mm lens, if you have the funds for it. If you’re shooting in a area that is small(Club, meeting room, store) lens under 100mm are usually your best choice. When it comes to shooting in large areas (warehouses, malls, auditoriums)50mm – 200mm are the best. Also, if you’re in the process of buying a lens, buy the fastest one you can afford. If all you have is the kit 18-55, use it, just make sure to get in front of the other photographers.

Camera(APS-C vs FullFrame):
It doesn’t matter unless you’re shooting for a job or print, which is usually a magazine. APS-C cameras are cheaper, lighter, and they usually have a faster capture rate. I use to shoot with a NEX 6 which could take 10fps (10 photos consecutively in a second) versus my full-frame which shoots 4FPS. On positive side for full frame the quality is better majority of the time, this becomes noticable when shooting at an higher ISO.

The use of flash at big fashion shows are pointless, because there’s is either a spot light or a well-lit runway. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still have one in your bag, though.

ALL WAYS ARRIVE EARLY!!!!!! You will be able to see how the show is set up. You can claim your spot, while other photographers fight each other behind you.

This one is all up to the photographer. When I first started shooting, I preferred using two SD-Cards low capacity just in case one corrupted and forced the camera to auto recover or auto-reformat. Now, I prefer larger capacity cards. This is where finding out how many models are walking and how long the the show should last comes in handy.When I calculate the the card size needed, I multiply the number of models walking by 7 to get the number of total pictures I plan on taking. If there are 50 models then I know I will shoot close to 350 photos, and if I’m shooting for a fast upload I add 100, because I will shoot RAW+JPG.
Choosing between RAW and JPG is upto you. If you limited on memory and need to upload immediately, shoot JPG. If you’re camera writes data fast and you have a fast storage card, go for RAW. If you need to upload immediately, but still want the best quality format shoot RAW + JPG. RAW size megabytes images will almost equal close to the size of the megapixel of your camera. A 36mp camera will save 35-36mb files, which is why I now shoot on larger cards. When it comes to speed of cards, aim for the Class 10 & U-I cards. When choosing a card pay attention to write/read speeds of these cards, because you’re camera may save the images to the buffer and save the photos to your card after a few photos are taken, which will freeze your camera for 1-6 seconds depending on card speed.

Other Equipment:
Tripod/Quick Release: Use this if you’re sure you’re not leaving you’re spot, because photographers will ignore you trying to squeeze pass them while they are shooting.
Monopod: Comes in handy when you are walking around and shooting the run way from different positions.

Backup Stuff:
Cards: Since I shoot with Sony I can only have one card in camera at one time, but I always carry a SDCard and Dou Card for backup just in case.
Lens: Always carry a fast lens if you can. When ever I have my 50mm 1.4 lens on me, I always end up using it for most of my shots, even thought its a prime and manual focus.
Batteries: Even if you put new batteries in your camera and flash always keep extra on you, just in case one of these items are switched on accidentally.
Cleaning: Keep a dry microfiber lens cloth and bulb on you. There’s nothing like dust and debris messing up your lens your perfect shot, I notice this happens a lot when there’s videographers with the fluffy mics.


Testing out a prime lens and manual focus. 50mm/f1.4 & FF Camera (No Stabilization/ Handheld)

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