How Would You Photograph a Fashion Show?

How Would You Photograph a Fashion Show?


fashion-show-photography.jpg“I’ve been asked to represent a fashion website as their photographer at a fashion show next month in Australia and while I’ve done a lot of portrait style photography I’ve never covered an event like this. Do you or your readers have any advice for this aspiring fashion photographer?” – Alex

This email hit my inbox during the week and I thought it’d make an interesting reader discussion/workshop.

What advice would you give Alex? Alex tells me that she shoots with a single camera body – a Canon EOS 5D and has three lenses that she can choose from – a 24-105mm f/4 L, a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L.

  • Which lens/lenses should she take?
  • How would you recommend she use them?
  • What shots should be go after?
  • What other fashion photography advice or tips would you give?

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Renato Oliveira January 27, 2012 03:40 am

    Hi Dave, I really enjoy your advice. Amazing. I have fashion shooting tonight and that’s will be the line I will follow.

  • Steve May 13, 2011 02:09 am

    as one photographer mentioned as well, i highly suggest a monopod, positioned in front of the runway... but towards the back, if possible. Perhaps taking a step ladder, a sturdy one just in case... as long as you're not in another photog's view.

    If you're credential allows you access to the ladies getting ready, a 24mm-70mm is perfect. Most models, well, the professionals, won't even notice you're there as long as you're out of the way... sort of speak.

    Some may show a little impatience or may say something to you, but don't take it personal. Like them, you're there to do your job.

    At times, the environment will be like two mothers in a small kitchen trying to make dinner for huge family.
    But remember to always stay professional and positive and keep a smile.

  • Hery December 28, 2010 06:40 pm

    Thank you very much for the very useful tips here. I am going to shoot a local fashion show in a couple of days, and just got the answers to all of my questions.
    You all have a great New Year 2011.

  • James Lim December 10, 2010 11:04 am

    I shoot with a 5D mkii and always have my 24-70 2.8. I would take out my 50 1.2 when the opportunity presents itself. The best lens I would say for great coverage will be with the 70-200mm 2.8.

  • Filippo November 29, 2010 03:44 am

    I usually (everytime really) use the 70/200 f/2,8 Nikon.
    You can shoot all or the 3/4 body, and if you're close enough, a good portrait too.
    I think it is the best zoom you can bring at fashion show.
    Anyway, I usually shoot also in the backstages, and... is a different thing!!

  • roshi October 7, 2010 04:27 pm

    hello, I'm also going to be a fashion show photographer for the first time, thanks for all your good advices:)

  • Elmine May 20, 2010 11:40 pm

    Thank you for all these excellent comments! I am shooting my first fashion show and in my research I came upon above discussions. All of you have been of great help!

  • Michael Kruger February 26, 2010 01:37 pm

    Hi Anastasia,

    I wrote and aritcle on this website a while ago about fashion photography...check it out on this link:

    Also, my website is if you'd like to check out some work.


  • Anastasia February 26, 2010 09:59 am

    I'm of no help for Alex, however, I wish to see some work from fashion photographers here? I have always enjoyed looking at photographers' work, and seeing different styles and different point of view.


  • flipland February 3, 2010 11:49 am

    assuming she's got all the right access passes....i would consider taking in two bodies, each one attached with a wide angle zoom and a 200mm telephoto. split the time between shooting the runway and then forego her spot and backstage where the real action of a fashion show is taking place and shoot that. at the runway, try to capture the reaction of the audience members to the model and to the fashion; details of the piece; any other details that may stick out from the audience as well.this is wehre the wide-angle + 200mm comes in handy. basckstage, caputer the organised chaos that is ensuing. here, i'd stick to the the wide-angle, focusing on details and drama. shoot wide open i think

  • rob November 4, 2009 01:14 pm

    @ richard, come to think of it, why do you even have a camera! shouldn't you be drawing things instead? you can't have just the best bits and still have your integrity.

  • rob November 4, 2009 01:06 pm

    @ richard,

    must be nice not having to endure the ratrace, btw why are you using the net? didn't the ratrace create this thing!

  • Frederika Mirtshe August 1, 2009 09:32 pm

    Hi. I think you could also make more of it through a bigger exposure about \"\". Perhaps you can have some chocolate fashions.

  • Daniel March 26, 2009 01:34 am

    Appreciate the info guys, thanks

  • Calvin Foo March 12, 2009 03:08 am

    *munching popcorns*

    what? So fast ended dy?

    anyway, it is still an interesting discussion I can see and discussed with professionalism. Welldone everyone.

  • Richard March 12, 2009 01:36 am

    My pleasure, Larry.

  • Larry Leone March 12, 2009 12:06 am

    @ Richard.
    This is unreal talking about the narrow scope of a thread. LMAO, really. Stick to the topic or don't bother. I guess Richard would call a coffee shop narrow minded for not selling him pizza. Go get some fresh air, really I think you need it. Besides if your way was the best way you wouldn't be out here trying to sell everyone on it. If you really want the peace and tranquility of being alone in the woods get off the computer and go enjoy your oneness with nature and leave the rest of us alone.


  • Richard March 11, 2009 10:43 pm

    Thanks, Vernon. I was clearly ranting in the wrong place. I tend to think (& type) according to my reactions/notions that are stimulated by whatever issue surfaces. I "contribute" to many blogs & discussions and I neglected to realize how narrow the focus might be in this one. So to all whom I've offended, I apologize (not for the content but for my insensitivity on your hallowed ground).

    To Alex:
    I didn't answer your question because the only one I could come up with is "it depends." What lens(es) you might use "depends" on what kind of photos your client expects. The standard, run-of-the-mill shot, such as is posted, you could likely get with a $50 normal prime. The lens isn't going to be your problem... the light IS. With various colours of spotlights, etc., playing on subjects I'd take my camera OFF "Auto" white balance... (to what "depends"). The model in the photo above looks as if she'd been dipped in ochre on my monitor. Not a shot I'd be proud of.
    I wish you good luck. Just as soon as you find you're getting good results on your shoot, the lighting in quantity and quality will change and you'll be back to square one... unless, you & your client just accept that your photos will look as if you shot them at a rock concert... all bizarre colouring, poses, etc. If that's OK with you, it's OK with me. If it's not then I can only suggest you find some way to pose each model under conditions you can control.

    In the meantime, Vern & I are heading out to the bush for some fresh air, peace and quiet and sanity. (Sorry, I just had to get in a final dig.)

  • vernon March 11, 2009 09:34 pm

    Hi richard,

    Understanding wholeheartedly where you come from with your viewpoint "being a qualified tour guide, in South Africa where you get some of the world's best places to do nature photography in" I would just like to know what your point is towards the question being asked? " You are just proving, that for all your nature love and whatnot you are still human and just as prone to human flaws. Stick to the point mate, the question was asked to get help in what to use and how to best capture the fashion event from someone that was hoping to get help from people who maybe have done this more than once, not to get an opinionated ass view of what your dislikes are, valid as what they may seem to you, they have no bearing on the question asked. If you have such strong viewpoints on the matter, start a discussion of the topic somewhere else and then I will join in.

    Have a great day

  • Richard Dawson March 11, 2009 07:11 am

    The point is that the original question was to get advice on how best to shoot the show that the OP had been given an assignment for with the equipment she has or other equipment she could rent.

    It had nothing what-so-ever to do with what we as individual shooters enjoy shooting or the challenges of other types of photography. The entire thread is supposed to be about helping one of our fellow photographers do the best job she can with the task assigned.

    It's not mentioned whether she is getting paid for this gig or not. However, I don't think she is likely to see an eagle spread its wings in the middle of the runway that she has been assigned to shoot.

    I really doubt that she cares how you or any of us feel about the world of fashion or fashion photography. She has an assignment to complete. That and ONLY that is the reason for this thread.

    So, your statement that many will not agree with or understand your statements is completely correct. They are the trivialities here because they are completely irrelevant. They have nothing what-so-ever to do with what everyone else is talking about.

  • Richard March 11, 2009 06:50 am

    I think both Larry and Michael are missing my point. Larry clearly accepts that the ends justify the means and Michael clearly hasn't tried to capture an eagle, wings spread, coming in for a landing in a tree top from 100 yards away, hand held in variable light.

    My point, for what it's worth, is that the life we humans have embraced by the hundreds of millions - building concrete and glass pigeon holes in the sky, moving in, and calling it "beautiful," is a tragedy. It is artificial and shallow and crazy-making. I find it endlessly amusing that so many people are slugging their guts out in the urban environment to earn enough money to "escape the rat race and move to the country." I wonder why that might be? Do you perhaps suppose those folk somehow realize they've bought into being the "fish out of water" that modern society has conned them to believe is "reality" and are hoping to hell they can escape before it's too late?

    I don't expect many to understand or agree with me. Which is WONDERFUL! Those who think "fashion shows" (or any of the other artificial trivialities that make up modern urban life) are somehow a worthwhile way to spend some of their lifetime, are WELCOME TO IT... far better you'all stay in your concrete jungles, listening to the endless wail of emergency vehicles and smelling little else than exhaust fumes, than coming out here to the "woods" to screw things up for the rest of us.

    Larry, your volunteerism is commendable. The cause is worthwhile. Too bad the trade off is that you must sell your time & talent to such a phoney exercise. But it's certainly your choice.
    When Michael decides to treat the opinions of others with at least the same amount of respect he likely expects from others, I'll communicate with him further. Not that he likely gives a rat's ass.

  • Michael Kruger March 11, 2009 05:46 am

    I find Richard's comments both a little insulting and meaningless. Us fashion photographers have just as much passion for what we do, as you do (Richard) for feeding little animals in a forest!! Like all of us, we have different interests and different beliefs in life. I love what I do, as I'm sure you do. Who's right...who's wrong?

    Anyway, your comments have'nt helped Alex and are in no way constructive in either a positive or negative way. I don't know how you can compare the fashion industry to feeding a feral animal a peanut. Perhaps you have a brain the same size and can't quite figure out how to use your camera in a more challenging environment than the forest!

    Happy camping Richard!

  • Larry Leone March 11, 2009 03:49 am

    Oh and BTW, I'm shooting a Fashion Show this weekend that is a fund raiser for Autism Education. I'm donating my time and talent and even giving away a free session via raffle. Perhaps that would be considered doing something useful?

  • Larry Leone March 11, 2009 03:47 am

    @ Richard.

    Well you can use you camera to feed squirrels. I'll continue to use mine to feed my family. While I too enjoy nature and photographing it; I find that mother nature doesn' t pay the bills.

    All the best to you in your future endeavors.

  • Richard March 11, 2009 12:00 am

    Sorry... but you couldn't pay me enough to endure spending any time in a room full of artificial everything from the lighting to the people. Besides, I couldn't stop myself from laughing out loud at the silly spectacle those models make of themselves. I'd distrupt the ambiance entirely.

    I'd rather be out in the forest feeding a peanut to a squirrel. That's at least doing something useful. Call me a nature lover, I guess.

  • charity miles March 7, 2009 03:58 am

    I recently shot a bridal fashion show which brought up the challenge of shooting white on white in a dark atmosphere. I had both a 18-55mm lens as well as my 75-300mm. I used both lenses and changed between both several times.

    Be familiar with your flash especially if you are shooting in burst mode. You don't want your first shot to be lit, then the rest are dim.

    Find out ahead of time where you will be sitting / standing. If it is a short runway you may not need your zoom as much as if it were a long catwalk. You want to be able to focus on details of the clothing, but also get a wide shot if needed.

    Talk to someone and find out the choreography of the models, are they all turning the same direction? you don't want to be taking photos of their backsides during a turn.

    Keep it in perspective. Know what the client wants, but try to see it differently, try a different angle. Sometimes you can try several things beforehand if you can get into the site ahead of time (to check your lighting, etc...)

    Keep it real.

  • Mike Minick March 6, 2009 12:05 am

    I've shot theatre, dance & rock n roll and one thing that I've learned to take along in my bag to the shoot is a bottle of water and some cookies or fruit. You don't want to get the hunger 'shakes'.

  • Vernon March 4, 2009 09:11 pm

    Hi there,

    I shoot shows and events on a regular basis. It is grossly important to speak to the event manager beforehand, make sure to be there well before the show starts and take a couple of photos to familiarize yourself with the light and surrounding setup. This is also a good time to mingle and get a couple of shots backstage. I have only done one show were the lights were satisfactory for me to shoot as is.

    Find out from the events manager what the theme for the show is, then you will also know what to focus on. " I did a show two weeks back, where the theme was ear rings and bags, guess what I took photos of :-)" you can always if time allows you take other photos too, models enjoy photos of themselves, and it will build your personal portfolio.

    I use my 18-105 vr for most of the shots at the smaller events and for the bigger ones my 70-200 F2.8 is invaluable. I use auto settings, because most of the time there will not be fidgeting space for you to dabble around with different settings and I figure the guys that built my D90 knew what they were doing when they built it and have a bit of experience in the camera business :-)

    Oh yes, and have fun, the people that asked must have seen some of your work before they asked you to do the event. So do what photographers do best, let your index finger do the talking.

    Happy shooting

  • Michael Kruger March 3, 2009 03:38 am

    Hi! I'm a pro fashion and events photographer in Dubai. I had the fortunate task of shooting for a designer at London Fashion Week last week. From experience, your best lens setup would definately be a 70-200. This enables you to zoom in and out as the models pass on the runway. The ideal place to situate yourself is at the end of the runway....hopefully not having to compete with too many others from the media, magazines and those commissioned by the designers. Sometimes this can be a bit of a jostle for places, but be strong...but polite! So, back to the lens....a 70-200 f2.8 VR if poss is best as it allows you to track the models movements on the runway, far from you when they start and closer up at the end of the runway.

    You also have two choices! Mounted flashgun or a high ISO and a slightly faster shutter speed to avoid any blur. However this depends on how well lit the runway is. This you'll have to decide on the night/day of the show. In addition, to avoid camera shake, A VR (vibration reduction) lense helps as well as a mono or tripod. Its easy to get a moving model blured on your shots! So to keep the shots nice and crisp, these hints will help! Also, take as many shots as you can! Take a card with a nice big memory and shoot as much as you can. You're bound to get some great shots out of these and delete the excess and bad shots.

    Personally, also, if I can build any kind of repor with the models before the show starts, bides well for me when I'm at the end of the runway. So many fashion models today, don't pose or "freeze" for long enough for you to get a descent shot. What I try and do is build up a repor and kindly ask them to pose for at least 2-3 seconds so I can take a good shot. Also, when they reach the end of the runway, they'll recognise you and will often look straight into your lense! This is not alway possible, but try!

    I think these simple hints should help. Good luck and have fun! Lastly, always take enough business cards and your portfolio with you to a show! Its a fabulous place to network with models and designers, fashion PR companies and more. You never know, you may find yourself booked for another show or photoshoot!

    Michael Kruger

  • Sandun de Silva March 1, 2009 07:57 pm

    I shoot a few fashion weeks a year found that the lens you should pick would truly depend on the set up of the show and where your shooting from. First pick would always be the 70-200 f2.8 L with IS. Shooting on a good tripod is always the best option. I usually keep the camera on the tripod and the head loose so that I can move it around fast. Once a show starts you probably wouldn't much time to do anything other and look through the view finder. So keep everything you will need close by (CF cards, extra battery, water ect.)

    Second pick would be the 24-105 again depends on where your shooting from. You will need on wide shot and one close up of every outfit to properly cover the whole show. A good show will always be lit well so shooting can be and should be done at around 400 ISO. With 400 ISO you can get a shutter of about 1/200.

    My Set Up
    Canon 5D Mark II (400 ISO, 1/200 Shutter, f4.5)
    70-200mm f2.8 IS or 100-400 f4.5/5.6 depends on where i'm shooting from again.
    4x 8 GB Extreme III Cards

    Good Luck with the Shoot.

  • Beowulfenator February 28, 2009 08:42 am

    Nice question. Shooting models on a runway is actually rather limiting, because there are certain traditions in place. For instance, the picture shown as an illustration to this article would never (and I mean it, never) make it to Collezioni or a similar fashion magazine because the models' legs are in an incorrect pose.

    Also, value of your shots greatly diminishes as you move off-center. For that reason, lenses like 70-200mm or 200mm or 300mm are the tool of choice for such shots.

    One of the worst things you can do is use flash. You'll get a lot of negative response from your neigbour photographers and especially video operators.

    Typical settings would be ISO 800 f/4 1/250.

    Here's how I did once:

  • Kantha February 27, 2009 11:03 pm

    I wanted to say that when you shoot a lot of photos the chances are that you will get many good ones.

  • Kantha February 27, 2009 11:01 pm

    Most of the time I come early and go backstage. People are generally friendly and the models are delighted to pose for you. You can also compose your shots better.

    At the show find a good angle and shoot zillions of photos. You will get many. Use a reasonably high ISO and flash

  • Peter Kirring February 27, 2009 07:41 pm

    Alex's first decision shouldn't be about lenses or memory cards etc - it has to be: do I shoot raw or do I take manual white balance reading(s)

    Without either of those, chances are that colours will be represented wrong, and if there's something a fashion client wouldn't want, it's colours that don't look real.

    The manuel white balance reading vs. shooting raw is of course a question of personal taste, taking facts such as avaialble memory, burst-rate i raw and the inconvenience of a manual reading into consideration.
    Personally, I would go for raw.

    Best of luck and enjoy, Alex!

  • Donhugh February 27, 2009 01:13 pm

    i gues she should take the 70-200m gives u the range u want from facial close ups to whole body even when ur not that close to the that right?

  • David Gallo February 27, 2009 04:29 am

    I agree with most of what has been discussed here. The 70-200 2.8 IS rocks for fashion shows. That is assuming that the fashion show is in a larger space with a proper runway. I had to shoot a smaller show with 1.8 prime lens due to a super short catwalk. Anyhow, one thing that is really important to remember about the pace of a show is to know where all of your back up gear is and have it ready to pull out. Most shows are pretty fast paced and the last thing you want to do is be trying to remember where your batteries or memory cards are cause you are running low on power or shots. I generally wear something with a lot of pockets, normally a suit and leave a pocket empty to stash dead batteries. After the first few shows I shot, I bought a camera strap that has pockets for flash cards built in. I always get to a show before there dry runs. Depending on the show, you might be able to ask if they can run with show lighting for the dry run. Being really nice to everyone helps. I would like the other folks recommend you bring all of your lenses. If you show up early, you might be able to get shots of hair and make up, which depending on the styling of the show might add some great shots to choose from. Most the shows I've shot have been for the folks running the show, and hair and make up shots have been expected. Might be a little harder if you are there shooting for some one else, but it wouldn't hurt to ask.

    Good luck.

  • Donald Hood February 27, 2009 04:21 am

    My 2 cents.
    I shoot quite a few local and regional fashion shows, from grown ups to children. For the "real" fashion shows, there will be a spot where each model stops, and goes through 3 angles of posing. This is the spot to catch the front, side, and back of the outfit. Sometimes this spot is halfway down the runway, more often it's at the end of the runway.
    The purpose of the show is the outfits. You HAVE to catch the outfits, no excuses, and do it at a time the model is striking a pose. Also, get a walking shot coming and going in addition to the 3 angles of the outfit. I go for 5 images of each model. (going, coming, front, side, back).
    My favorite lens is the 70-200 2.8. Use careful manual focusing, and nail it. You don't have time for the camera to hunt the focus.
    Get a custom white balance and meter reading before the show when they are testing the lights. Some let you flash, others don't. Compensate for that.
    As the "official" photographer, you will have access to backstage and usually can pick your spot around the runway before the show starts. If you're just another shooter, get ready to scramble.
    During the show, when the models are moving, the pace is fast, and your palms are sweating, breath and remember that most people would pay good money to get to do what you are doing right now. Not a bad job!

  • Larry Leone February 27, 2009 02:09 am
    Everything you need to know is int he above link. If you can't use two bodies I would use the 24-70. This way you can always manage a full body shot.

    Good Luck,

  • JpII February 25, 2009 08:36 am

    I shoot NIKON...Ok don't throw rocks...hahaha..anyway
    I did 2 runway fashion shoots last year...

    1. Factor is what type of show is it...Hair?, Clothes,
    - find out what is going to be modeled...for example I did a hair show...they didn't care about the I shot tight from the waste to the top of head. Lens:( 70 - 300 mm) Nikon Lens. Location: End of Runway

    - The other was a clothing...shot a minimum to 2 shots per person full.(down runway and then up close.)
    Lens:( 18 - 55mm) Nikon Lens. Location: End of Runway

    Hope this helps...

  • Felix Ker February 24, 2009 04:09 pm

    Darius, don't forget the limitation of 3 lens Alex has got.

  • Darius February 24, 2009 04:25 am

    What about 24-70 2.8 ?
    Why nobody mentioned this one lence?

  • tony February 24, 2009 04:11 am

    bring three bodys forget about the $$$$$ that one good shot will pay for itself and then some.
    2.8 good fast lens how about a prime lens??? like a 105 mm wait to they are at that special
    spot and fire a way !!! most of all have f u n !!!

  • Rei Kino February 24, 2009 03:30 am

    i have done one or two fashions, and i more the willing to share what i have learned. first off, i can see that everyone has given you a lot about the lense, so i will not talk about that as much.

    one thing that i found was really useful (if you have one, great.... if not i would reccomend getting one if you plan on persuing this area - fashion shows). is the use of the mono-pod. the first time i took my tri-pod, and it was terrible to say the least...when you are in the show, there will be a lot of people, so space it tight. i found that using a "camera back pack" was really convient. this the one the i use [Mountainsmith Borealis AT Camera Pack].

    for shooting: i know the pros usually go to far back and shoot with there really high expensive lens (that not many people can afford). at the front everyone is cramming in and yes the first time, on someones advice i went to the front, and it was like not so nice (in my opinion) . my pictures turned out not as i hoped. i would reccommend sitting in the middle thats where i usually sit and i like it better there.

    for the actual pictures: you know that the stage with the runway is in the center and is going to be the center of attention. this is what i like to do (and this is only a preference of mine (and can probably be debated by a few people). anyways, if you picture that the whole place consists of 10 rows. each containing 7 seats with the stage being at the front in the direct middle. i perfer to sit between row 5-8 in seats 2 or 3 (on the left hand side - if a more left angle is your preference) or in seats 5 or 6 (on the right hand side - if a more right angle is your preference). i find if you sit in seat 4 that you will get a picture that is straight on (really blant and could possibly be deemed "unimaginative"). i found that people like a shot that show "imagination" an "artistic approach"... (you know that sort of thing - that why i mentioned the whole angles thing). please dont get me wrong, this is in really simple terms, and its only for the idea and understanding (it really up to you and everyone who is reading how you wish to take this).

    a reccommendation is that if you doing like an all day shoot, like you are going to be out all day, then i would pack a few snacks. granola bars, one or two bottles of water, a chocolate bar (like snack food, its up to you what you pack). i found that it can get a little pricy paying for your own stuff, it cheaper and easier to bring your own.

    i hope this helps a little.

  • steven van kooijk February 24, 2009 03:05 am

    One thing I would not forget is a batterypack for your flash unit that wil charge in a split second!

  • Lily February 24, 2009 01:28 am

    Remember, fashion is about the clothing, not the model. Look for interesting textures in fabrics, shadows, and reflection. And never crop out the train of a dress to get a good shot of a model!!!

  • Ovidiu February 23, 2009 10:24 pm

    :) another thing. The pros go at the back of the room with fast long lenses on monopods..the rest are crowded around the stage shooting upwards ;).

  • Ovidiu February 23, 2009 10:21 pm

    Fast lenses is a must. I use the 70-200 f/2.8. I personally do not use anything wider then that as it tends to introduce distortion.
    Go there before the show starts and get a pre-set White balance. I found that the camera can be easily fooled by the amount of lights and colours used on the stage. I noticed that because of the make-up used the red channel clips very fast so keep an eye on it.
    Find something to bounce your flash off. I usually bounce from behind me at 45 degree. If you place the flash on the stage you will risk to have it stolen and you will also introduce the spooky shadows on the model face :)
    If you use a flash have loads of batteries with you as the long lenses/diffusers will drain loads of power. I would advice on a second flash as they tend to over-heat in these situations.

  • Calvin Foo February 23, 2009 09:29 pm

    I have experiences in concerts and fashion shots. Some good examples can be seen in my flickr site

    Single SLR body. with 3 lenses to choose.

    Situation: low lighting, dynamic lighting (due to lights are on going changing in fasion show, or anything similar to concert). far away from subject.
    Subject: Fashion, Indoor, model, portrait.

    #1. 24-105mm f/4 L.

    Cons: Not wide enough, not far enough, also not fast enough.
    Verdict: I'll skip this lens.

    #2. 70-200mm f/2.8L IS
    Pro: Good tele, Good aperture.
    Verdict: This will be my primary lens for fashion shoots.

    #3. EF 16-35mm f/2.8L.
    Pro: Good wide, Good aperture
    verdict: This will be my secondary lens for group shots.

    Fashion shots are similar to concert shots.

    However, Fashion shots are focus in individual performance, catwalk; wide are only less than 5% of the time for overview. So 70-200mm will give you a cover portrait from far whole body shots, or close up (upper body shots).

    Lighting Problem:
    Fashion Show or Concert lighting environment are dynamic and rapidly changing, it may be split second fast and resulting Shutter or Aperture Piority will easily be fooled and unable to cope with the environment light. During half-press, the sensor detected S or A at X, but by the moment you full pressed the shutter, the X are actually resulting over/under exposed. Over/Under exposed shots are more regular than a constant or slow changing lighting situation.

    My experience told me that S/A Piority just not fast enough. Manual setting is the way to go.
    Setting #1: Action-oriented. If you want to focus to on action (Model movements, eg. slight blur on model's movement), fix your Shutter Speed at your 1/30, and adjust the Aperture (by monitoring the metering overall performance and stage lighting) as if it is a manual version of Shutter Piority. Pioritise your dial within 1/15, 1/30 and 1/60.

    Setting #2: Detail-oriented, Close-up, portrait, still shots. If you want to capture fixed details. Fix the Aperture at F2.8, adjust the Shutter Speed (by monitoring the metering and overall performance and stage lighting) as if it is a manual version of Aperture Piority. Pioritise your dial within F2.8, F3.5, F4

    Use bracket shots (under, normal, and over) to give yourself some buffer and insurance.

    How do I know when is the right time to change the setting? The most obvious time when subjects/model are focused/defocused with spot lights. Also keep your eye on the metering.

    What setting do you use most of the time? I am a sucker to wide aperture. I use Setting #1 most of the time. I usually fixed my Shutter at 1/15 or 1/30. Because Concerts are mostly about movement, performance (Action oriented), it would be silly to see the performers stand still like a wax muzeum dummy.

  • Glenn February 23, 2009 09:20 pm

    Everyone has covered the lens, I've shot a few fasion parades and Bikini comps (which are basically the same -runway + models). My best advice is to make friends with some of the other photographers. You can't cover every angle and sometimes you find they may have shot in the venue before and can give you pointers.

    My second advice is before the show starts there will be people on the runway getting it ready, take the chance to fire off some shots and get your settings right. (Remember that the house lights will be turned out once the audience has taken their seats, so make sure you compensate.)

  • Dendy Julius February 23, 2009 07:59 pm

    I've shot Fashion Shows before and my favorite lens on a 5D is the 70-200mm 2.8L, it covers almost anything.
    200 from the entrance and the 70 at the end of the runway..

    Usually, the Organizer gave an extra special Place for photographers, so using 16-35 will not do any good at all
    even using the 70 can cover almost all the stages.

    I hope this will help.

  • Stephen H. February 23, 2009 05:43 pm

    Each lens has its good point.
    24-105mm f/4 L
    The f stop isn't as low, so depending on your lighting and whether that will be low enough, but the range of mm is excellent. If you are decently close, you can get full body shots and then close ups.

    70-200mm f/2.8L IS
    This seems like the best lens for this, as you can catch full length shots from a distance, get close ups as they pass and the f stop is pretty low, so you will be better off with the lighting.

    and a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L.
    I think this would be the lens to leave at home, I'm not sure that a wide angle shot would be necessary for fashion. If you think so though, the f stop is pretty good, once again.

  • Mr.E.Shay February 23, 2009 05:11 pm

    It doesn't hurt to have too many pictures.
    It might to have too few.

    And I'm sure that people have already mentioned this,
    but go check out the lighting before the show actually starts.
    It's probably a good bet that it's bright enough in there,
    but if you're representing a fashion website,
    it just can't hurt to check and double check.

    Finally, if you end up using an external flash,
    make sure to bring along and use a diffuser,
    or bring down the power of your flash.
    Nothing will make the other photographers
    more angry than some fellow photographer's
    harsh lighting in their pictures.

    Mad luck! =)

  • KKL February 23, 2009 04:36 pm

    it's very depends on what spot you got to shoot...
    i will definitely mount the 70-200 on the body most of the time.. and keep the 24-105 handy (it will be 24-70 in my case.. since i choosed the 2.8 over the f4 when i make my purchase).
    the thing about full frame i found is... it lack the reach when you have a wide to medium tele lens.. for your case.. 105 might be better.. but for me.. 70 is not quite enough alot of time.

    however.. wide angle would be a very interesting perspective if you got the chance to stand at the end of the runway. so i will definately keep that lens handy. especially these shots often different from "covering the event with your camera, and the real fashion show shots.. "

    In terms of lighting... any decently setup fashion show should have enough lighting for you even if u shoot at f/4. so i won't worry too much about that...
    you might have to bump up the ISO to gain the shutter speed... since the model will be walking...
    and depends on how experienced the models are... i've seen some that are walking really fast... (once, the model was too fast for my AF to track... )

    "Ideally".. it would be even better if you can borrow a 2nd body.. even if it is cropped... and mount the 24-105 on your 5D, the 70-200 on a crop (if u happen to have one).

    and personally .. i would leave the 16-35 at home, if you are concern about security, or weight.

    If off camera flashes are allow (most cases don't... some really small scale one i've been allow that.. since they didn't even have proper lighting!). they comes in handy too... set 2 up at the back... and you got yourself some decent shadow on the face. plus... you never know.. you might get to shoot before and after then show too.. then your flashes will be useful.

    Other than that.. have fun.. fashion is always a fast pace event to shoot... it would be interesting...

    (oh.. aside from all the lens and stuff.. Bring enough memory card! )

  • Gary Hodges February 23, 2009 03:19 pm

    Good for you, getting a gig shooting a fashion show is a lot of fun and the drama and intensity of the music along with the audiences reactions can make for an intense experience. First, you'll absolutley need to know your client's needs and expections, so that you'll be able to deliver the product as they expect it, that is, if you desire to get or want more work of this kind. Just a few years ago I photographed a hanful of spring fashion shows and from my experience it is especially helpful, if not essential to visit the dress rehersal to get to know the pace, pauses, turns, which clothing has special needs -- like which clothing needs a side view as well as a back view and to be prepared for models whose routines may offer different moves or possible dance steps or surprising props (quick pops of an umbrella, tips of a hat or the accmpaniment of a cute dog) or transformations (tops that are reversable, come off to reveal another item underneath- tops or dresses), that way you'll be completely prepared -- if they do happen, they will typically happen very quickly. It is helpful to stand back and watch much of the rehersal looking through the 70-200mm, f 2.8 lens, which will probably be your main lens for the show as well. I'd suggest shooting the rehersal to get into the swing of the event, you'll most likely have a few hours between the end of the rehersal and the show to view the images to see how things worked out. Most of what you'll shoot will probably be vertical, so remember to be supporting the lens from underneath with your arm resting into your body, which alows your shutter hand to be a bit loose, as a 2 hour duration show can do a number on your arms not to mention the bridge of your nose from the almost constant contact of the rubber eye-piece on the tender nose skin. The best method would to be to have two cameras each with a 70-200, f2.8 so that if you have any camera or card issues you'll have a back up ready. You'll need to know the number of rapid bursts your camera will allow as the buffer of your camera may get choaked up, if you shoot too fast, especially if you are shooting in RAW mode and depending on the write speed of your cards. One note, don't use a micro drive as they typically write very slowly. You'll want to have the 24-105 ready at a moments notice if the situation of needing a wide shot arises, like at the end of each designer's clothing line is shown, guests may offer boquets of flowers to the designer as he or she usually parades with the whole ensemble line-up of their models, before the next designers work is shown and the 24mm should be enough (on a 5D) to cover that scene horizontally and for that you may be able to get a little closer as well. Before the show make sure that all your memory cards are reformatted just to ensure a good clean slate of ample memory. Expect to shoot well over a 1000 photos, figure out how much memory will be ample, as you'll look the fool if you've shot half the show and you've run out of cards. I like to use 8GB cards, any way memory is cheap these days. You should have sufficient fresh/charged batteries too and back ups for your camera and flash if you have one. If you do have a flash you may want use it on a swivel type bracket, since you'll be shooting many verticals and any direct shadow you get from the strobe will not then create a left or right side shadow on the runway set-up. The shows I shot were quite well lighted and it was possible to shoot ISO 320 or 400 at 1/125th - 1/250th at f/2.8 - f/5, metering manually to allow the available ambient illumination to be the main light and the strobe on TTL to fill in the detail. If the stage is set with tungstun lights, then it may be good to cover the strobe with a at least a 1/4 CTO (amber) filter, which you can get from a Gel manufactuer's sample pack. Roscoe is one manufacturer I know of. Try not to shoot below a 1/100th of a second as the movement either from you or the subject may be objectionalbe. If you decide not to use a flash, make sure to expose for the subject, not the potentially bright set. You'll not want to have any noise in the area of the clothing. And if you do not use a flash, you might try shooting at an ISO of 500 or so just to keep a good exposure. The moments that typically work best for the models is at the point where one foot is in front of the other as the models walk, it creates a more appealing visual for the body and legs. Arrive early to the actual show and stake out an aisle seat, better yet, tape the seat you want to use at the end of the rehersal with a "Reserved for Photographer, Alex" sign. At any rate, get to the show early to know your systems. And, if you get to shoot the back stage preparations, you'll find the 16-35mm and 24-105mm lenses quite useful to capture the chaotic scene there. The only other tip is to bring a few power bars and some water. Have fun too.

  • Jake February 23, 2009 10:15 am

    Nice post thanks!

  • Carlos February 23, 2009 09:28 am

    try to get very early so you can be there at the last rehersal. Why? it will give you a sence of timing on the catwalk and youl be able to get a fine seat and the perfect place for shooting and also remember they are walking so youl have to freeze them to show every detail of the clothes.

    Other thing to consider is that the important thing is the fashion or the make up and not exactly the model yo get focused on the clothes and not in the faces (its not a birthday or a concert).

    remember that the flash can frezze the action but if its to close can burn the picture and may be forbiden to use there so try a hig iso but retain details.

    All the lenses are good but it will depend ond the place you are sitting. (try to became friend of the people next to you so you will be able to disturb them a little bit without been rude or kiked out.

    sorry for the bad english hope this helps a little bit.

  • Tom February 23, 2009 07:22 am

    Fashion shows are actually kinda easier than expected. It's very well lit, so if you know really anything about exposure, it's easy to shoot.

    Know what comes next in the show. Everything is very repeated (How the models walk down the aisle), so it's easy to know what the best time is to shoot, and what to look for in the photograph.

  • Richard Smith February 23, 2009 06:13 am

    I can't talk from experience but depending on your distance I'd go with the 70-200 F/2.8, adjust your aperture to give the desired depth of field for a particular shot and set auto ISO to bump up and down the sensitivity to keep the shutter at a minimum speed that will freeze the action.

    And maybe a flash(es) if you can.

  • Paul February 23, 2009 05:10 am

    As for the idea to use an extreme wide angle zoom as a portrait lens I'm not sure I would agree, since it is a full-frame camera we're talking about.

    The 24-105 is a nice one for that, even though 'only' F:4, it could work because it has IS.
    It is still my favourite on my 5D.

    70mm is technically portrait (anything from 50-135 would be) but it's not a small and handy one.
    But for the catwalk-type pictures as above, it rocks.

    Hard choice if it can only be one... (24-105 with Photoshop for extra zoom-cropping?)

  • Jeff February 23, 2009 04:29 am

    I do not have any experience shooting fashion shows but here is my take on the subject any how.
    Generally, you will have the same POV throughout the fashion show, and you will share space with other photographers, so what you bring with you is important. Your two "fast" lenses (f2.8) is what I would bring, since you might shoot at high ISO anyways. I would shoot with 2 bodies (if you can) so you wouldn't have to switch lens back and forth and possibly miss great opportunity shots.
    Good Luck

  • Karen February 23, 2009 04:07 am

    First off, I'd rent a second body. You may not have time to swap lenses. Have spare batteries for both, ditto lots of cards. Personally, I never use anything larger than a 2G card when I'm shooting an event because if a card goes bad I haven't lost the entire shoot.
    Secondly, I'd talk to the person who is hiring you and find out what shots they expect. Nothing worse than shooting an event and finding out afterward that you and your boss had completely different goals.
    If at all possible, do some reconaissance ahead of time. Find out where things happen and what kind of access you'll have. If you can get there while they're doing light checks, even better.

  • Jason C. February 23, 2009 03:26 am

    Everyone else hit the lenses well enough. The other thing I will add and stress is use a "fast lens"! I love the muscle tone in a models legs when she walks. You know your camera and how to shoot it best. So the best advise I can give you is relax and have fun. The energy level is great, feed off that. The huge draw back to these can be other photographers, some can be real a@#^&. You have to have an attitude and show them you are not a push over. I'm 6'3" so I do have an advantage to some degree. I never have my camera higher than their hips. Knee level even better. You already know to scope out the lighting situation and where you will have your problems. I usually have 2 assistants with me. One with my bag following me and the other with the client communicating back and forth.
    Lastly, know your client. Ask them what they want and what attitude they want these images to show. Bring lots of memory. I shoot in the RAW, so I bring plenty. If you can get behind the scenes before the show with the models getting ready..DO iT. Some of my best shots were the before.

    Have fun and take care.

  • Richard Dawson February 23, 2009 03:18 am

    I've shot a few fashion shows and from the sound of the description above you've been asked to cover the show. That would include the runway and any of the back story you can get.

    It's not just fashion photography. That would be done in a studio. It's fashion photo journalism. For shooting the runway part use the a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS like it was a prime set to widest aperture. Lighting in these things almost invariably sucks. Set it for what ever distance will work for your shots and leave it there. The show will move much to quickly to change lenses though you may be able to change focal lengths a few times to get perspective shots.

    Bring plenty of memory cards. I took over 800 shots in a two hour show and that was just for the runway part.

    Have fun with it and good luck.

  • Felipe Barreira February 23, 2009 03:07 am

    I recommned the 80-200 with a monopod and another body with 16-35. Don't need to be a 5D or a 1D, she would do great pics with a 40D.

  • Zak Shelhamer February 23, 2009 02:58 am

    Definitely both 2.8 lens's and maybe consider buying or renting a fixed 50 1.4 to keep that natural perspective when shooting people. but I would also make sure I have a couple ex flashes that I could set up off camera to get some more dramatic affects.

  • Mark February 23, 2009 02:56 am

    A few things you may want to consider;
    - get a reserved seating spot well before the event. That way you can plan your lenses and lighting. Talk to one of the organizers about how the models will walk, where they will turn, etc. You can get some cool shots of the 'turn' if they whip around and have some flowing clothes. You'll want to ensure you get shots of fronts and backs of them.
    - remember that most runway models pause at the end of the runway before they turn and do a couple quick poses. If you can plan on shooting them at the moment of the pose, you'll get sharper pictures, and it'll help guarantee that you won't get them in some odd mid-stride pose (though those can turn out well, don't bank on it)
    - if you can, and have a couple remote flashes, set them up near the stage, facing up on an angle, with wireless remotes. Normally shows don't have enough ambient light in the right colour balance to be effective on a moving model. You'll get blurry shots. Keep the flashes close and low to the runway, and don't zoom the heads at all - keep a wide light pattern, and ideally with some light diffusion of some sort (Fong diffuser?). If you keep the light close and the power down a bit, you'll get faster recycle times and more battery life. Don't be afraid to use lots of flashes if you can get 'em - flash photography is part of the fashion industry. I'd experiment with 1 flash on each side of the runway on a stand to sort of 'rim' light the model, or one flash on the end and one on the side near the end to front and side light the model at the end of the runway. I really couldn't see doing this job without at least some kind of flash fill.

    While it'd be nice to do some shots behind the scenes, just be cautious - some areas behind the scenes have a lot of women changing (i.e. - naked) and you may have trouble shooting there without getting some of those in the shots .

    Good luck!

  • dan February 23, 2009 02:32 am

    I'd start with, 70-200mm f2.8L, the faster the lens the better. The 16-35mm f2.8L might be too wide for your subject matter.

    Form a simple strategy that works for you. Generally speaking, because your subjects will probably be moving an you will be stationary:

    1 get wide shots when subjects are further away,
    2 get detail shots when they are close.
    3 Models always pose. Use the poses to your advantage.
    4 If the purpose of your job is to compare fashion then try to take similar shots for each model

    Just remember keep your strategy simple, if you find it isn't working it is easier to change.

  • Jeffrey Byrnes February 23, 2009 02:31 am

    Lens: Bring all three! Chances are she might not be exactly on the very end of the run way. Plus she could use being there to her full advantage and shoot as much as possible. I know I wouldnt want to be limited with one lens, say the 70-200mm. She could use the 16-35mm as a portrait lens for after the show and be able to walk around making portraits of the models and the designers afterward

    The 70-200mm would best be used if she can not sit as close as she would have desired. The 24-105mm would be ideal if she could get closer to the run way. And of course the little guy, the 16-35mm as a portrait lens. It would be nice if she had a second body to keep the portrait lens on.

    As far as shots goes, if she is representing a magazine of some form or fashion publication, (whether on line or for print) she should get as many shots of the models on the cat walk as she possibly can. But afterward getting behind the scenes to get some candid portraits or even get some portraits of the designers, models, and the people involved in the show would be a great addition to the body of work she would be shooting.

    I recommend reviewing as much before hand as possible. Reading publications, watching tv shows about fashion, looking for runway shows, or maybe youtubing a few run way shows to see how other photographers are working. Reading as much about fashion photography as possible. Speak to other fashion photographers and see what advice they offer. There is a ton of resources available for her to look through to get a better sense of what she needs to capture. The most important thing she could do is to totally immerse her self into the fashion world. Even asking the person who contacted her, exactly what are they looking for? It helps to know what you they are looking for before walking into a shoot.

    I hope this is useful. The best of luck!

    Jeffrey Byrnes

  • Amandalynn February 23, 2009 02:26 am

    I'd bring them all if it was possible. I tend to err on the side of over prepared.

    If only taking one of two of them were possible it would depend on where I was planning to take the pictures from. More than likely the 24-105mm would be the most versatile in that type of setting unless it's a HUGE show, and if I needed a faster lens I'd probably opt for the 16-35mm, so if possible I'd be taking them both - and if further possible I'd rent or borrow a second body so that I didn't have to deal with switching the lenses during the show should the need arise.

    Additionally, I'd be bringing an external flash and plenty of batteries for it. It might not be necessary depending on the set-up, but it's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

  • Dave Kozlowski February 23, 2009 02:25 am

    I've never shot a fashion show, and I've always felt it would be a real challenge!

    Unless you've been hired specifically to shoot the fashion line, I would go for something slightly different, try to capture what all the other photographers are not shooting....possibly shooting behind the scenes, close shots of eyes, lips, hair and other interesting details of the fashion line itself, for instance pleats, buckles, shoes, bags. Get pics of those in the crowd, faces, folks talking notes etc.

    Overall, try to 'tell a story', try to best-capture the look and feel of actually being in attendance at the show.

    My best advice? Don't think too much about the shots you will take(unless you've been give a specific shot list by the designer, or models)'s best to work 'off the cuff' (no pun intended ha!) ... letting things unfold, always on the look-out for something unique to shoot. Don't go after what the other 100 photographers in attendance will be shooting...the runway itself, or only the runway shots.

    I also enjoy shooting photos of other photographers in action, and this type of event will be good for those shots also!

    Don't put yourself under too much pressure, have fun, and you will come home with alot of great images from the event.

    Although not of a runway show, Here is a sample from a recent photo shoot I did here in Dallas of some models in a nightclub setting...nothing set in advance, I just snapped everything spur-of-the-moment as I saw it gives a more journalistic touch to the overall scene, but of course shooting like this might not be what you're after.


  • Felix Ker February 23, 2009 01:13 am

    I would actually recommend just the "24-105mm f/4 L" since at 24mm (and full frame), she should've covered the model's height from any distance. To be safe, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L would be a backup lens if she would be very close.

    Since it's runway, I guess f4 is good enough since there should be sufficient ambience light.

    Just my two cents.

  • Lucie February 23, 2009 12:58 am

    I had the pleasure of photographing the Asian Woman Fashion Show in London recently and although I am not a professional, maybe I can give some tips. I had two lenses with me, a 15-55mm and a 75-300mm and I found the 75-300mm lens to be the most useful, since the catwalk is fairly long. I was standing just below the podium, about half way along the catwalk. So definitely take your telephoto lens, and maybe the 24-105mm as well, but you can leave the 16-35mm at home.

    The main difference between portraits and a fashion show is that your models are going to be walking and they might be walking quite fast. I used the pre-set Sports mode, which works fairly well whenever I take pictures at any stage events (dance, music, fashion show etc.) The light conditions often change during the show or they are not the same at different points of the catwalk and as this is a live event, you don't have the time to change your aperture, shutter speed and so on all the time.

    Regarding HOW to take the pictures - I heard some advice from a fashion magazine editor once which I take as the golden rule - the point of fashion photography is to SHOW OFF THE CLOTHES. So let your creativity run loose, but don't forget this rule!

    Good luck, enjoy!