The Ins and Outs of Fashion Photography With NYFW Photographer Ned Simes

Fashion photography, especially runway, can be a challenging photography niche to master due to its fast-paced and often hectic environment. Miss the moment and it cannot be repeated. Capture the moment and it may become a viral sensation for the brand. We sat down with internationally renowned fashion photographer, Ned Simes, to find out his top tips on navigating the industry.

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After being first introduced to New York Fashion week in 2018, photographer Ned Simes has cemented a strong reputation in the fashion world.

With international and local designers making up his impressive resume, Ned has shot for brands such as Altuzarra, AJE, Staud, Afterpay and Saks Fifth Avenue, capturing some of the world’s biggest supermodels such as Gigi and Bella Hadid on the runway. He can now be found shooting around the world, never in one place for too long, and with every project a strong head turner.

With several elements at play at once, runway photography requires moving subjects, lighting, clothing, and location to work in harmony. Ned explains how he makes these elements work together to showcase the models, fashion, and overall atmosphere of the show.

WORKING WITH MOVING MODELS

When it comes to a live runway show, photographers only have one chance to get it right. In the blink of an eye one can miss, or worse, shoot out of focus, a million-dollar shot.

To maintain focus on models as they strut down the catwalk, Ned takes advantage of the autofocus tracking system on his camera.

“These are pretty amazing systems that literally follow someone's eye the entire way down a runway, predicting where they will move in order to maintain focus,” says Ned.

“Not only does it make shooting easier, but this really gives photographers more creative freedom to shoot the show with new and unique perspectives, knowing for the most part your image is going to be sharp.”

LIGHTING CAN BE MAKE OR BREAK

Lighting can be one of the biggest killers of a good shot. What the eye sees versus what the camera sees can sometimes be worlds different.

The beauty of runway shows is that no two shows are the same, and you may find yourself going from a brightly lit show with high intensity lights, to a moodier, sultry show with dim lighting.

For this reason, Ned advises allowing adequate time to adjust your camera settings in advance of the show. “Every event is going to be lit differently so it’s important to get there early and work out how you’re going to get some nice light.

“Most larger shows will have specific continuous lighting setup above the riser and often throughout the runway, so you can set exposure and colour temperature before the show and fire away throughout,” he says.

Then for backstage, you’ll find a more creative environment. “When you’re backstage there is often a big mix of lights and temperatures which can be fun to work with. However, for the most part I’ll just fire a flash for best results.”

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BE RESPECTFUL BACKSTAGE AND IN THE PIT

Whilst capturing the runway is priority, backstage shots of models getting ready can make for some great organic shots. Whilst Ned says the backstage setting can seem intimidating at first glance, it really is a communal and supportive environment.

“I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is that everyone back there is working, whether it’s the HMUA’s, the assistants/volunteers, caterers, designers, show producers, other photographers or models themselves,” says Ned.

“Everyone has an important role to play to get that show to run successfully and somewhat on time, so being respectful and just being a nice person back there carries a lot of weight!”

When it comes to shooting from a media pit, things can get pushy. It’s important to ensure what is needed is captured but being respectful and communicative to industry peers is just as important.

“Similarly to the backstage crew, be understanding in that everyone is there for a reason. Get there early if you need to get front and center, but also have a chat with the other photographers there. It’s pretty easy to make it all work with a bit of communication.”

KNOWING WHICH DETAILS TO CAPTURE

The beauty of shooting runway is that the show is photographed from different eyes. Each photographer has a different purpose being there – whether they are shooting for the brand, an outlet, or a client. The way the models are captured by each photographer is dependent on the role of the photographer.

“If you are there as part of the house media, or your job is to capture every look for the designer, then it’s really important you get there early and secure a good spot in the riser,” says Ned.

“Otherwise you may have a bit more creative freedom which will allow you to capture more of the venue and work that has gone into the production, which is something I really enjoy!”

Ned also encourages making use of unique offsite locations from runways - from street shots to industrial shots. “Some of these locations are really cool and often places you'd never get to take photos in, so I love taking advantage of that and getting creative, especially with backstage access,” he says.

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THE JOB DOESN’T END AT THE RUNWAY

“Backing up your work is huge! If you’ve ever lost files or had anything corrupt on a job, I can almost guarantee you’ll do everything you can to prevent it happening again,” he stresses.

“Most modern cameras have dual card slots which makes writing backup files as you shoot super easy and adds that added layer of protection.

“Then once I’m done on site, I’ll drop all my raw files onto an SSD immediately and work from there. The selects then go into the Cloud for the client and we’re onto the next show!” says Ned.

TAMMY CHRISTINA

PRESENTER

Tammy Christina, also known as W By White Wolfe, is a lawyer-turned-influencer and presenter based between Australia and Los Angeles with a prime focus on the fusion of luxury fashion with sport, lifestyle, travel and entertainment since 2012.

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