I recently attended Essex Fashion Week with ShootDHS models, Bath, who were one of the events sponsors, providing many of the catwalk models.
Before I set off, many people asked if it’ll be like The Only Way is Essex, or TOWIE for short, a TV show I’d never seen but had vaguely heard of and a bit of YouTubing filled me in. Yes, it was a bit like that! The organisers were keen to make it a real Essex event, showcasing a variety of locally-based designers and labels.
As well as some behind-the-scenes action I shot parts of the main catwalk show as well as a few Essex ‘slebs.
Catwalk shows can vary in size and complexity, some featuring breakdancing, songs and other extras but for the photographer it’s the lighting that will determine if first-rate photographs can be obtained. At Essex there was generally enough light to get sharp images with a fast lens, although as the catwalk was spotted with pools of light, the models would dip in and out of the gloom, making metering trickier than usual. Still, I’ve sometimes shot fashion shows that are bathed in flickering disco lighting, which can be even more of a challenge – high-end events like London Fashion Week tend to keep catwalks brightly and evenly lit as getting great images into the world’s media is a key priority.
In any catwalk show you only get a moment to grab a winning photo – some models barely pause at all, while others are sophisticated enough to milk their moment at the end of the runway and increase their chance of being featured in a paper, magazine or on a website.
Sometimes the name of the game is to pretty much blanket-cover every brand or designer but as I was looking to get more of a general feel of ShootDHS Models’ involvement with the event I could mix it up a bit, try different angles, approaches, and looks rather than simply shooting straight down the catwalk the whole time.
Behind the scenes work can be fun too – but at some shows there isn’t much space for hair stylists, makeup artists and dressers to work in. In the real world catwalk models often work really hard – a huge amount of grueling preparations and practice runs are required to put on a show that’ll wow fashion lovers at an event.