Shooting the show with Canon
Earlier this week and quite out of the blue, I received an email from Canon with an offer to shoot a fashion show during London Fashion Weekend. This wasn’t some PR event organised just for photographers, it’s a real fashion show, sponsored by Canon and shot by randomly selected Canon CPN listed photographers (which is how I got an in) and a group of photography students. They were a really great bunch of people with plenty of friendly banter. So what’s it like shooting a show with Canon?
The day started with a comprehensive briefing from the Canon team about what to expect, what to shoot and how to get the best results. It was a good idea, especially as more then half the 30 or so photographers were students studying for degrees in fashion photography and this would be their first taste of a professional assignment.
We were also given some great camera tips such as using ai servo to track focus on the models as they walked towards us. Canon recommended using just the centre focus point for older Canon cameras like my 5D mark II but for the more modern 7D, 5D mark III and 1Dx a larger centre cluster was suggested.
The Canon briefing made a big point about getting consistency from one image to the next… as you can see in the photos above. So to help out Canon had already worked out the ideal shutter speed, aperture, ISO and white balance. Now normally I prefer to shoot in Aperture Priority mode and auto white balance, however the whole catwalk was evenly lit with manmade lighting that didn’t change once the show had started. As a result I shot the show in Manual Mode and with a fixed white balance to ensure total consistency.
Hence every photo in this post was shot at 1/640th sec, f/4, ISO640 and with a white balance of 3000k
If you’re wondering why consistency is important, put yourself in the shoes of a fashion magazine or website editor. They’re not looking for creative flare from us photographers, they’re looking for photos that perfectly represent the outfits time and time again.
Click to enlarge
Nailing the shot
Timing in photography is important in many types of photography but at a fashion show there’s no reruns and no second chances. So getting the perfect shot needs either lots of practice or a bit of luck. So to shorten the odds in my favour I worked in continuous shooting mode and shot in short bursts. Take a closer look at the five shots above. All but number 4 are duds but I only needed one good shot.
OK so above is a crappy shot from my compact camera but this is the photography “pit” where we were allowed to shoot from. Getting a spot in the centre i sthe goal of all the photographers as it gives the best angle to shoot from. See the gap just left of the video tripod… guess who bagged that spot
When it came to gear I kept it simple. All the photos were shot on my Canon 5D mark II with a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS lens. It proved to be the perfect combination for the day. I also packed my Canon 24-105L f/4 but that never came out of my bag.
I know from experience that the Canon 70-200m f/2.8 gets very heavy very quickly so I used my Giottos monopod all the time. I also spent a lot of time kneeling down so I was very glad I packed a small cushion, although with hindsight a folding tripod stool would have been even better as would a small step ladder… if you were prepared to take the risk.
I have to say my 5D mark II did a great job but I could tell my autofocus wasn’t always tracking the action and the 3.5fps continuous shooting speed is very pedestrian. However the student next to me who was using a brand new 5D mark III was able to shoot at 5.5fps and even tweak the continuous focusing system to suit the situation… the results looked pretty darn good too!
I need to say a huge thank you to Canon UK for making the day happen and for their perfect hospitality. If you ever get the chance to take part in a Canon event I suggest you either grab it with both hands or forward it on to me