Top tips for shooting the catwalk

This year at PhotoPlus we were lucky enough to be invited by Canon to London Fashion week to photograph the works of fashion designer Emilio De La Morena on the catwalk. Armed with the Canon EOS 1D X and the versatile Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM we secured a spot in the photographer’s pit to shoot some shots. So what should you be looking for when photographing the catwalk and what camera and AF settings do you need? Here are some top tips for you…

Lens choice
You’ll need a versatile lens that has a large focal range. A 70-200mm is ideal as you can shoot the full range of the catwalk from when they enter through the door to when they’re right in front of the camera at the end of the runway. You wont have long to get your shots so if you want to use a wider lens such as a 24-70mm for at the end of the runway then mount this on a separate camera and have this set up and ready to go.

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Camera settings
Put into the Manual mode so you have full control over the final result. We were shooting the majority of the shots at f/4.5 at 1/400 sec at ISO 800. You want to keep the shutter speed around that speed, as the models are constantly moving so you want them to be sharp. Don’t open the aperture up too much wider then this setting as you’ll find it tricky to keep the model’s face in focus.

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Colour balance
If shooting in Raw you can alter the colour balance at the editing stage however it’s best if you can to set it before so you can instantly the result you’re getting. The show lights when tested were measuring at 4400 degrees Kelvin so we set this in manually to the WB setting.

AF settings
Put you lens to the AF setting and set to AI Servo. This is best setting when tracking moving subject matter. You want to be manually selecting the AF point and for the majority of your shots you’ll have it on the top mid point on the focus grid. Keep the focus locked on the face.

Model poses
When walking down the catwalk as a photographer you need to be aware what the model is doing. Look at the arms, legs, eyes and body position. Ideally you want both feet on the floor. Try to make sure both arms are visible (i.e. not hiding behind the back) and ideally you want the body to be upright and symmetrical. Be aware of blinking sleepy eyes so put into the continuous shooting mode to fire off a few frames at once.

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And finally… be creative!
After you’ve secured some ‘safe’ shots get creative with your composition!  Look for when the models cross over, include surrounding features such as the crowd behind or the lights above.

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Here are the rest of our images from our shoot…

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