London Fashion Weekend shoot
A while back, I spotted a tweet from Calumet Photographic, saying they were partnering with Canon UK to offer places for Canon photographers to shoot London Fashion Weekend.
Well, I’m a Canon shooter, so that sparked my interest.
Like other online competitions, I entered, thinking nothing much would come of it. How wrong I was! I was offered the chance to go to London Fashion Weekend to shoot two catwalk shows, back to back. All I had to do was get myself to London, which isn’t that difficult seeing as I’m on a main train route. My friend @Lagop5 even spotted me a complimentary 1st class ticket!
After arriving at the One Aldwych hotel, myself and several other ‘Togs made our way up to a conference room where we were greeted by representatives from Canon UK and Calumet, who explained the rules of the day, as well as giving us some guidance and advice, along with suggested camera settings for the shoot.
We then signed our waivers, which stated we weren’t allowed to sell our pictures without the express permission of the British Fashion Council.
A short walk later and wearing our new London Fashion Weekend photographer lanyards, we were ushered into the Marquee over at Somerset House and lead to the photographer’s ‘pit’, which was a section of fairly low steps in front of the catwalk. The Canon guys had shown us an image of the pit beforehand, crammed with photographers, and had been told that we would have to pick a spot and stay there. As it turned out, there were around forty photographers that had all won places, but the pit was more than big enough to accommodate all of us easily and there was even a little room to manoeuvre.
I had taken my still-fairly-new 70-200mm f/4 L lens, which I had been delighted to see was described as an ‘ideal’ focal range for the show in the email I was sent from Calumet/Canon prior to the event. I’d taken my 50mm too, but more for if I fancied doing any street photography while in London.
Pretty soon the announcer was announcing the show we would see, and most of us fired off a few test shots to check our settings and perhaps tinker a little with them. There were to be four trends showcased: Graphic Art, Urban Lifestyle, Doll’s House and Eastern Promise.
The next thing we know, the models are appearing on the runway and we have a whole host of things to think about:
- First challenge: The models move continuously toward the end of the catwalk, so AI Servo mode was critical to track them while keeping them in focus. Luckily I keep my camera on that mode most of the time, but we had been given that tip as a recommendation at the briefing.
- Second challenge: It all happens so fast that by the time the first model has hit the end of the runway and possibly done a little flourish of some sort, the next model is already starting down the catwalk, so split second decisions needed to be made about whether you were going to get a shot of the first model walking away, or move straight on to the next model as she approached.
- Third challenge: Framing the shots on the fly. After a while I settled in to a rhythm of zooming in fully to 200mm as the model first came out, then easing back to keep getting full body shots as they approached, before finally zooming in fully again to get portrait shots as the paused at the end of the runway.
Suddenly, the first trend had gone and we all took a break as the announcer appeared again while the models changed for the second trend. And this was the way it went for about forty minutes – taking lots of shots, punctuated by short respites while the announcer was on and occasionally snapping one or two of her too, to check for focus and settings issues.
The first show finished and most of the photographers chatted happily amongst ourselves. For many, like me this was a new experience entirely, so we swapped tips and insights as to how we were getting our shots. There was time for a bite to eat and then people started filtering in for the second show and before we knew it, we were off again. I changed position slightly between shows, just to try a different angle and found the second show a lot easier, as I now knew what to expect. The trends and outfits for the second show were the same, along with the models, so I now had an idea of each model’s rhythms and which ones were likely to do interesting flourishes.
All in all it was a fantastic day and a great learning experience, to say nothing of an amazing way to get some great portfolio shots. I think I shot over 650 pictures all told, so half the battle with editing them has been going through and narrowing it down to my favourites.