Toronto Fashion Week: The Shows Spring 2014 Photo Diary

Earlier this month, I was invited to participate in a Toronto Fashion Week Photography Bootcamp with Steve Carty and Canon Canada. The 3-hour hands-on session was meant to give us some useful tips for shooting runway photos, prep us to deal with less than ideal lighting and less than ideal seating, and teach us a few more Canon Blogtography tricks on getting the best possible photos under (fashion week) pressure.

Well, last week all of those lessons came in handy when I attended the shOws Spring 2014! As usual, showcasing a handful of seriously talented Canadian designers (Bellavance NYC, Calla, Jeremy Laing, and Steven Tai), the shOws was every Canadian fashion junkie’s dream event of the season, and I came prepared with my Canon EOS Rebel SL1 in tow.

While I couldn’t take Steve Carty’s advice of sitting in the pit during the show (seriously, if you want the best pics without much effort – the photographers’ pit is where it’s at), I still managed to take some fun detail shots from my front row seat. If you are looking for tips on how to shoot fashion shows here are few I learned from the great Steve Carty!

My Favourite Runway Photography Tips

  1. Get Into the Photographers’ Pit

If you really want the best runway photos, you must sit in the pit. Lighting at fashion shows is arranged in such a way that if you sit at the end of the runway, your photos will most likely turn out with very little effort. BUT…as someone who’s been in the pit before, you really do need to get there early to stake out your turf…and do not wear a skirt if you plan on sitting on the floor. Just trust me on that one.

  1. Do Not Shoot Mid-step

To capture the most natural-looking runway photos, shoot when the model touches his/her foot down on the runway, not mid-step. This one’s not very easy to follow, but if you use continuous shooting setting, you’ll be able to choose your best shot at the end of the day. Which brings me to Steve’s next piece of advice…

  1. Do Not Delete Your Photos

I am the worst at following this one! Make sure you have enough room on your memory card to accommodate a lot of photos, so you don’t have to delete anything until you’re looking at your shots on a computer screen. Images can look drastically different on a larger screen, and some can be saved with a little cropping and Canon’s Creative Filters, which brings me to…

  1. Use Canon’s Creative Filters

A really cool feature that I had no idea about until our lesson with Steve Carty is Canon’s Creative Filters. This feature is like a built-in Instagram on your DSLR. Have a crappy-ish image? A little creative filtering can take that image from blah to wow in no time. Make your photos look gritty with Grainy B/W filter, add Soft Focus to your detail shots, or stack a few filters to make one of your own. And the cool thing is – Canon’s Creative Filters can be applied both before and after shooting.

  1. Shoot in Both JPEG and RAW

I learned something pretty troubling during our session…apparently, every time you save a JPEG image, the quality diminishes with every save, while RAW files can be edited again and again while staying crisp and clear. To avoid destroying your favourite photos, make sure to shoot in both JPEG and RAW. One thing to keep in mind with this though, is when shooting continuously with RAW files the number of shots in a burst is significantly reduced – switch to JPEG if you need more images in a burst. Also…you’ll need a lot more memory card space.

  1.  Be Focused

If you are having trouble with focus, focus on a spot on the runway where the model steps mid-stride by pressing the shutter button halfway down and listening for the beep.  After you hear the beep, flip the AF switch on the side of the lens to MF. Then, simply wait for the model to walk to the pre-focused point on the runway, and take your picture.

  1. Don’t Miss the Details

If taking a full-body shot is not an option, focus on taking photos of the interesting details, action shots, and accessories. While images from the photographers’ pit will yield perfectly good full-length pics, photos from the sidelines will show more movement and character, making these photos, in my opinion, a lot more interesting.

  1. Shooting Monochromatic Looks

When shooting all black, or all white outfits, focus on an area of contrast, like a strap, a shoulder, or the neckline to get the best shot. Consider using AI SERVO AF focus tracking mode.  In this mode the focus continuously adjusts based on the motion of your subject as long as you hold down the shutter button halfway.

Bellavance NYC

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