Shooting catwalk can be a daunting prospect. You have moving subjects in varied lighting conditions, in an environment where technical excellence and timing are key - oh and you are usually in a crowded spot with other peoples lenses usually bumping into your back/sides/head/loved parts... you get the picture.
Here are some simple tips that will go a long way to help you get "the shot".
- Be Polite to your peers. You're all there to do the same job and a pissing contest over who has the bigger lens is not helpful to anyone.
- Pack the right lens. The most common lens for the catwalks we have in Malta is the 70-200mm f2.8 Lens. It offers the right amount of zoom whilst keeping a bright exposure. Longer lenses such as the 300mm or 400mm are also great, however try to aim for an f4 or lower lens.
- Monopods - love your back. When using heavy equipment for extended periods without a break, you are putting a large strain on your back. You are either old or will be getting old eventually :) so take care of your back and use a monopod. A head is really optional if you are using a lens with a collar like the 70-200
- Get the right Exposure. Either in the pre-show light test or in the first minutes of the show take a look at the light. Watch out for areas of uneven lighting or hotspots since that will change your exposure settings. Set your camera in a median and then adjust up or down depending on the conditions on the catwalk. In modern dSLRs don't be afraid to crank up the ISO - a well exposed ISO3200 image is going to be way better than an underexposed ISO400 image or worse - a blurred one.
- White-Balance is key. If your shots are looking a little jaundiced, you're probably on the wrong white balance settings. Keeping a grey card can help automate this but if you're stuck just grab an white or grey item and shoot it in the catwalk light. This value can then be applied to all your images if you're shooting raw.
- RAW can get you out of tricky situations where your exposure isn't 100%
- Keep a fast shutter . Particularly during fast paced shows, try keep a shutter speed of 1/160s- 1/250s
- Perspective will make the model look much shorter/taller depending on how high or low you position yourself. In cases of bad perspective try and aim for the money shot at your maximum zoom since this will minimise the effect of perspective on the shot
- Try keep a consistent shotlist for every model:
- Model walking with foot extended for straight clothing lines (one with each foot forward)
- Model posing at end of catwalk
- Model from the back
- Close up of model's face/accessories
- Don't overwork the shutter. If you you have the shot list in mind, just click the shutter when the model's eyes are open and she is in good light. Unless you have a fast dslr (6fps min) just try aim for the time when the model's foot is about to touch the floor
- Catalogue & Name your files according to the event's guidelines. Keep in mind that your photos may end up with those of a bunch of others. Keep a naming scheme that helps this and make use of EXIF information such as the IPTC Title and copyright/creator tags. This will help event organisers and your sanity when people use your photos online :)