Which lens and shooting space are required for a fashion shoot?
When preparing to embark on a fashion shoot, it is important to know what kind of environment and shooting space you will be working with. For the sake of clarity, I will commence with a classic fashion shoot in a moderately sized studio.
Location and studio fashion shoots require very different approaches to the choosing of your focal length. In both cases, however, it is important to be sufficiently prepared for all of the possible permutations that you may consider during the shoot.
Keep in mind that, when shooting in studio, you are often limited by the size of the workspace, the width of the background and the distance from the subject. If you are in a small space using the standard back drop, you may find that you are compromising between the distance of the model from the background and the focal length required to get the entire subject in to the frame.
This makes for some expected constraints, but there are problems that, being less obvious, may only present themselves once you actually begin shooting. For example, say you are thinking of back drop lighting as well as back lighting the model. The compromise between the focal length and getting the coverage required within the width and height of the backdrop may be problematic.
If you are in a position to work in a large space, these limitations will be pretty well eliminated, except for the width of the backdrop. If you have the luxury to work with a full “Cyclo” studio, where you can paint the backdrop, then the possibilities become pretty well limitless. In the most positive of conditions, where space is not a limitation, the choice of focal length will have more to do with effect than necessity. Your only limitation will be the height of the studio. Ideally you will have a studio 18-20 feet high. This will allow you to sit on the floor and shoot up into the subject if desired, without having to Photoshop in the backdrop above the models head.
When shooting in a smaller studio using the standard backdrop and working within a distance of around 12 to 20 feet from the subject, I find that a 40-50mm APS, or between approximately 50-80mm in Full Frame format, to work very well for full silhouettes of a 178-180cm 5′-9″-5′-11″. You will find that the model will be around 6 to 10 feet in front of the back drop, allowing you to light the background. This is usually what I find works when attempting to get the model and the backdrop in to the frame without having to Photoshop in the background texture. Thus, a minimum of 25 feet in length is the minimum for a classic studio set up, for me at least. More is always better of course. You will need at least 15 feet in width to be able to set up side lights and back lights.
In the classic fashion shoot studio situation, one can get away with just three focal lengths from 24 through 35 to 50mm in APS format, or 36-75mm. Thus a good zoom might do the trick, like a Sigma 24-70 or any other brand with a constant aperture between 24-70mm. In some cases, some of the better kit lenses (18-55mm) can work quite well if stopped down to optimum aperture.
I also suggest that the backdrop go up in height to a minimum of 9 feet. Ideally 12 feet would be better.
Note: There are a number of online calculators that can help you with these calculations. The Dimensional Field of View Calculator “computes the field of view, measured in feet or meters, for a lens of a specified focal length on a 35mm camera.”
This article is republished from Benjamin Kanarek’s blog: Which Lens and Shooting Space are Required for a Fashion & Beauty Shoot?