Ever since the very beginning when i started to fall in love with DSLR, I have frequented the shopping malls for free public fashion shows, shooting the models parading the runway. Squeezing myself alongside the other equally or more obsessed photographer wannabes was not exactly my idea of fun and pass time, but doing it for quite some time now, I have grown quite fond of it. Heck I can even recognize most of the recurring model regulars, who made their timely appearances on shopping malls all around KL.
Many would question me on the "fun" part in photographing the models. Firstly, those are not exactly considered as glamorous fashion shows, since they were open for public viewing. Secondly, secondly, you do not have "Amber Chia" on every single show, and truth be told that some models can be quite a horror presenting their half baked catwalk and sulky faces on the stage. Thirdly, fighting amongst possibly three dozen other DSLR users, some drenched profusely in their own salty sweat, pushing, shoving their ways around just to get that extra inch height over you, or that extra foot in front of you for that better shot of the models who do not even look their way. Fourthly, what do I get in the end of the day, is not something I can make money from.
So all the questions being fired, why do I still religiously find myself shooting fashion shows one after another?
The answer is simple. It is the thrill.
I am not sure how exactly to put this down in proper words. It was the part of being there, witnessing the models doing whatever they were trying to do and show to the public, that made my heart pump so much faster. There was the feeling of rush. There were not only photographers, but also shoppers who had nothing better to do flooding the entire place, hence the sense of being in the crowd was quite overwhelming as well. Loud music pumping, usually very new, fresh and professionally programmed music added positively to the entire dramatic scene.
Then there came the photography challenge, where most higher class shows would showcase models walking down the walkway in a rather blinding speed, and their poses being hit for you in only less than two seconds before they swing their body around into a motion of blur. Freezing motions have become quite a difficulty, and then there was the battle with the almost non existent ambient light, or that spotlight which you would rather find their power plugs and just, well, pull them out. Every single show presented very different scenarios, and the outcome of the photos may appear stereotypical to most of you beautiful people, but believe me, the process of getting the photos right varied greatly. It was the process of making the photos happen, and being there at the fashion show that truly baked the cake.
This time around, the show was at the Gardens. I was also here last here, with Allen Ang, but the show was held concurrently with another show at Mid Valley Megamall in 2009. This year, Mid Valley held their show two weeks earlier, hence there was no need to sacrifice certain shows that may clash in between sessions.
The setup of the show this time was rather odd. There was no runway, or a proper catwalk path. There were three separate stages, where the models would spend quite a deal of time walking from one to another, and back again. Probably there were not that many apparels to show this time, hence the multiple stages concept to elongate the time duration of the show. Then the lighting was some tungsten spotlight which was not exactly bright enough, but it was good enough to add extra illumination on the skin of the models. There was some mixture with natural sunlight too, with afternoon sun coming in through the transparent roof. All in all, this was going to be one exciting show!!
I decided to put my flash away this time. All photos were taken with just the available light, which was the combination of spotlight, ambient light and a hint of daylight. Although I did not use flash, I did not push up my ISO. For some reasons, I restircted the ISO setting to 200 only. Only at later sessions in the afternoon when the sunlight was no longer adding extra boost, I bumped it up to 400. This was also the first fashion show which I have decided to shoot everything in RAW. All my previous attempts were all in JPEG, since I believe strongly in Olympus in camera JPEG conversion and optimization. All photos taken with the tele lens 40-150mm F3.5-4.5 and some with 11-22mm F2.8-3.5mm lenses. You just have to love Olympus skin tone, even in such mixed and difficult lighting situations.
So do we have other fashion show hunters out there? Do share your experience.