2012 Ottawa Fashion Week

After the MCO Ice Race, I drove to the Ottawa Convention Centre to attend the final evening of the 2012 Ottawa Fashion Week.  My goal for the evening was to gain fashion photography experience.

I brought my camera, all my lenses and my flash, which made for a heavy camera bag. I recently purchased a Nissin Di866 MkII flash, but as I had not had time to test it out, I brought my older Canon 430ExII flash.

I arrived at 5:30pm and proceeded to the show floor. Soon after, Rosa and my mother-in-law arrived. We left our coats at the coat check.

Rosa perused at some of the booths. People were selling hats, jewelry and cosmetics. It was not a large space, but it was packed with people. It was an opportunity for everyone to dress up. It was fun to walk through the crowd, checking out everyone.

Most people brought cameras.

After an hour, we were seated in the main hall. We thought we had tickets near the end of the runway, but our seats were actually at the start of the runway – the map on the ticketing web site was not clear. We were seated in the third row, but we were encouraged to move forward to fill the empty seats in the second row.

The lights dimmed and the show started. I had expected an announcer describing the outfits, but only dance music provided audio accompaniment for the show.

The location of our seats was not ideal for taking photos. I could not see the entire outfits (including shoes), and I had to look between peoples’ heads. So I got up and went to the end of the runway where the photographer’s scrum had been set up. I did not have a photo pass; I will ensure I get one for the next fashion show. No one hassled me about not having a photo pass. I was not bothering anyone else and I blended in with the other photographers.

There were about 20 photographers and videographers. Some sat on the floor in the front row, backed by photographers in chairs, and then two wooden risers. The videographers had their tripods and equipment on the top riser.

The fashion show was a great learning experience. There were two challenges to getting good photos.

The first challenge was to get the correct exposure. The runway was brightly lit, and the surface of the runway was highly reflective. My camera struggled to find the right settings because the middle of the frame was very bright, and all the rest of the room was dark. I had to use manual exposure. I overheard the other photographers that they also had to use their lens hood to reduce the glare from the overhead lights.

The second challenge was composition. I was standing behind the top riser, shooting through gaps in the other photographers or around them. If I stood to the side, it was very hard to get shots that included the models shoes. People in the audience leaned in to see past each other and they blocked part of my view.

There were three showings. The first two showings had three designers and the last showing was a charity fashion show for UNICEF. There was a 45-minute intermission between the showings.

For the final session I pushed my way into the scrum. There were fewer photographers than the first two showings. I had better photos. Next time, armed with a photographers pass, I will get better access and better shots.

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