7 best tips for shooting a fashion show

Are you ready for fashion week?

While fashion shows used to be a chance for buyers at boutiques and department stores to view clothing crafted by designers on the catwalk, they have now become a star-studded social event. At the most exclusive shows, celebrities and socialites alike vie for a chance to sit in the front row to see and be seen.

In the last few years, designers have opened their doors to influencers and bloggers who attend shows wearing their latest designs as a new form of marketing. The role of a photographer at fashion shows has adapted to fit in with the digital age.

Keep reading for our tips on how to get the perfect shot at your next fashion show.

Create a schedule

Fashion week can be overwhelming for photographers, especially if it’s your first time.

We recommend making a schedule before you tote your gear across the city to various shows. Prioritize fashion shows during fashion week based on which ones are closest together and getting the most buzz. Is a designer retiring this season? Is this the first collection for a new art director? Are celebrity models expected at this show? Ask yourself questions based on your goals for fashion week.

If you are working for a particular publication, you might be at their whim for show requests, but if you’re freelancing—or just uploading for your portfolio—you can prioritize your schedule based on capturing buzzworthy shots.

Soia & Kyo by Joe Ticar on 500px.com

Show up early

Valencia Fashion Week 2013 by Fernando Gimeno on 500px.com

Want to get a prime spot in the pit? Show up as early as you can and find a spot. Publicists will often reserve the best angles in the middle of the photo pit for preferred members of the press, but sometimes, if you show up early, you might get lucky. Stand your ground with aggressive photogs if you’re a newbie to get your perfect shot. If you are unable to get there early, see if you can snag a seat on the ground, or ask for an unassigned seat in the crowd with a good angle. Capturing through the audience offers a different shot than most of the photographers in the pit will capture.

YELLOW by GERALDINE on 500px.com

Complicity by Victor Alexandre on 500px.com

NYFW - Monique Lhuillier show by Matt Hafley on 500px.com

Composition and looks

?vagelia ?ravani by George Raptis on 500px.com

Fashion shows are short, so you only have a short window to take several impactful photos.

Remember what your goals are and who the audience of your photo will be. The better you can capture the full silhouette of the models, the more likely your photos will be picked-up or used by the designers in the future. Tighter shots of the model’s face can be captured during the final walk when all of the models do a walk around together.

Remember that the first and final looks are often the ones that the designer deems as most notable, so be prepared to capture those.

Naomi Campbell by HumbertoVidal on 500px.com

Luís Carvalho's Fall/Winter 2018 collection by Alexandre de Sousa on 500px.com

Lighting

naomi campbell milan catwalk by ???? ???????? on 500px.com

Soia & Kyo by Joe Ticar on 500px.com

No flash allowed!

When shooting in the pit, photographers are often barred from using a flash. Ensure that your settings are ready for extremely bright and direct lighting being shone on your model and their clothes. Cameras with external flash are usually the ones to be approved for pit photography, so ensure you are prepared for this request.

To get the “perfect shot”, test your light beforehand when you arrive early for the show. You can ask a fellow photographer to pose for you on the runway before audience members are invited to be seated.

Backstage shots

Dauphine, 2012 by Spiro Mandylor on 500px.com

Not able to get in early? Only able to sit in a bad spot? Try to head backstage to try to capture the models lining up for the show or getting their makeup done.

Often you will be able to capture the models in ways you don’t see on the catwalk. These photos can be used to report on beauty trends or to display the clothing from the show up close. An added bonus—you’re allowed to use your flash backstage.

NYFW by Mark Lippmann on 500px.com

Fashion week 2018 by Mihail Bove on 500px.com

Models backstage by Atif Ateeq on 500px.com

Fashion Week Backstage by Lord Ogeday Çelik on 500px.com

São Paulo Fashion Week by Jefferson de Souza on 500px.com

Ade Bakare Couture at the AfricanFashionDesignWeek by Adeolu Osibodu on 500px.com

Fashion week Ekaterinburg by Mihail Bove on 500px.com

Blumarine by TheFashionreporter on 500px.com

Lucian Matis SS18 by Spiro Mandylor on 500px.com

Lucian Matis SS18 by Spiro Mandylor on 500px.com

Street Style

Anna by Jan Zahradka on 500px.com

As more and more A-listers filled the seats at fashion week, street style began to take on a life of its own. Attendees and off duty models have now become the stars of the shows, before and after the catwalk. Buzzed about influencers getting asked who they are wearing and what they are hoping to see has become commonplace during the rush of entering and exiting a fashion show.

If you’re unable to get passes to a popular show, park outside and capture VIP attendees on their way in and out instead.

DSC by joel rubico on 500px.com

Fashion meets photowalk and falls in love. by Photocillin Photography on 500px.com

Paris Fashion Week by Guido Caltabiano on 500px.com

Try working with smaller designers

Model Paola Antonini by Amauri Nehn on 500px.com

As you’ve noticed throughout this piece, access has come up a lot. Photographing bigger brands’ fashion shows often means that you’ll have several hoops to jump through. You might have to worry about getting through security, owning a certain kind of camera, or getting on the list in the first place!

Working with smaller designers often allows you the chance to build a solid portfolio of photographs shot from the best spot in the pit. Also, smaller designers are often part of showcases or group runway shows to cut costs. This gives you the chance to shoot multiple shows in one or shoot in unique environments. Prioritize these smaller designers based on the location of their shows and whether they have any buzz already.

Did we miss any tips? Share them in the comments below!

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