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Photography

Fashion runway photography tips

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Taking pictures at a fashion runway is challenging: light changes, models swift by very fast in front of you, and if you don’t have a press pass or similar to be lucky enough to be in the photographer’s press area, it is hard to get good shots.

Runway events are a great opportunity to get some experience in fashion photography. If you’re just starting with photography they are a great chance to take pictures of beautiful and professional models without costing you anything or having to reach out for them.

Get in

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The first thing you need is to get an invitation or know about these events. If you don’t know anyone in the field or close contact within the industry there is still hope. Follow fashion bloggers in your area, clothes stores or mall’s twitter accounts. They will eventually post something about an upcoming event. Many are free, some by invitation, but you can then contact them through their social media accounts and ask for an invite.

If you’re lucky to get a press pass, you’re golden. The press area is strategically placed for photographers to get the best and constant illumination and angle, right at the end of the catwalk where models stop and pose for you. If not, then you’ll be seating at the sides of the catwalk, and you have a few seconds and a weird angle to get your shot right before the model passes you by.

Use a monopod

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Tripods are bulky and take too much space to set up, monopods are better in this case. What you need here is a place to rest the camera, assuming you’re using a DSLR camera, that thing is heavy to hold after a while.

Set to Auto ISO and Aperture priority

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Then let’s cover the camera settings. After a few trial and error, what works best for me is to set ISO to Auto. This way you will have the fastest shutter speed available. Use Aperture priority mode and set to the lowest F-stop possible. An F-2.8 or F-4 is a nice setting to get some depth of field and stand out the model in the image.

Auto focus

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On Nikon cameras, use the 3D Focus setting. With this focus setting you select a point of focus, and once locked, the autofocus will follow whatever is on that focus point as long as you keep your shutter button half-way pressed. This will save you from having blurry images. I don’t know if there’s an equivalent setting on Canon cameras.

Take verticals

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Sometimes a wide photo on the runway will reveal too much of the area, instead of focusing on the model, who’s our main subject. There are some mounts for the monopod that will allow you to take verticals instead of the standard horizontals. If you don’t have one, then get used to your camera weight because it’s going to be tough. Also, try to keep your elbows as close as possible to your body. There’s people sitting right next to you that also want to see the runway and you can annoy them with your elbows.

Use a fast lens

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Models are coming and going very fast and there’s little time to frame and focus your shot. A fast lens can be very helpful.

Hope this tips are of help. I had to learn this the hard way having lots of blurry pictures.

Do you have any other tips to share about fashion photography at runways? Please share on the comments below.

About the author

Gabriel Saldaña Gabriel Saldaña is a web developer, photographer and free software advocate. Connect with him on and Twitter

Creative Commons License
Fashion runway photography tips by Gabriel Saldaña, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Mexico License.

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