How to Photograph street style at Fashion Week

Fashion and Beauty photographer, Tobi Sobowale, shares her guidance for photographing street style at Fashion Week. Paris Fashion Week is running from 25th September – 3rd October 2023 – so if you’re in the city why not try adding another string to your street photography bow!

I am a Beauty and Fashion photographer born and raised in London. Earlier this year in February, I decided to photograph streetstyle at London Fashion Week (LFW) and it was my first time shooting this kind of photography. I recently went to New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and will be attending the Paris one this week. Below I share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learnt whilst developing my skills in this area.

Model at Carolina Herrera. The runway extended to outdoors of the Whitney Museum.Photo taken with Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8

Model at Carolina Herrera. The runway extended to outdoors of the Whitney Museum.
Photo taken with Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Top 10 tips for photographing street style at Fashion Week

Lenses

Photographers opt for different lenses when photographing streetstyle, I used a Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8 at LFW. The zoom lens allowed me to have some versality in my photos. However, as a beauty photographer I also wanted to get closeups of people’s faces and details in their outfit. Because of the crowds of photographers and fans outside of the shows, it can be quite difficult to get close to people so I had some limitation with the 24-70mm.

 Model at Carolina Herrera. The runway extended to outdoors of the Whitney Museum. Photo taken with Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8.

Model at Carolina Herrera. The runway extended to outdoors of the Whitney Museum.
Photo taken with Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

For NYFW, I used a Canon RF 70-200mm for most of the week, and I enjoyed the capability of the zoom, especially when trying to capture details amongst a large crowd. However, it also meant that I was only able to capture full-body shots of guests at shows when there were not huge crowds. Ultimately, there is no wrong or right answer when it comes to lenses. The most important thing is that you understand what you want to photograph.

See our choice of the best lens for street photography

Guest at Helmut Lang show. Photo taken with Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8.

Guest at Helmut Lang show. Photo taken with Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Focal points

This is also another personal preference but it’s important to understand what you want to capture in your photos and how you would want to present it. I tend to set my f stop quite high (f8- f11) as I love to capture texture in people’s skin when photographing beauty. And when capturing streetstyle, I love showing the urban environment or the crowds of people surrounding the guests. However, if you want the focus to be on the guest and the clothes they’re wearing, then you may decide to lower your f stop.

Mame-Anna Diop at the New York Public library for Altuzarra. F4.5. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Mame-Anna Diop at the New York Public library for Altuzarra. F4.5. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Guests at the New York Public library for Altuzarra. F5.6 Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Guests at the New York Public library for Altuzarra. F5.6 Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Narrative

What do you want your photos to focus on? Is it a full-body photo to show the whole outfit or do you want to capture details? Do you want your photos to have a documentary feel – where you’re capturing people passing by – or do you want them to stop and pose? These decisions will affect the lenses and focal points you choose to use.

Yinka and Oluwabukola at Spring Studios. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Yinka and Oluwabukola at Spring Studios. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Nneka Ibeabuchi at Spring Studios. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Nneka Ibeabuchi at Spring Studios. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Pace

Be quick and attentive! If you don’t focus, you can miss the moment.

Guest at Helmut Lang. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Guest at Helmut Lang. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Heart Evangelista at Carolina Herrera. Photo: Tobi Sobowale walking down the road with hair swooshing action captured street style model

Heart Evangelista at Carolina Herrera. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Be mindful of others

There’s nothing more annoying than when a photographer steps in front of a crowd of the other photographers when taking a photo. I met a photographer at NYFW, who would take his photo and then move out of the way. It can be tempting to stand there and get as many photos as possible, but I think we should all try to be more like this New York photographer.

Photographers at Spring Studios capturing street style during fashion week. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Photographers at Spring Studios. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Pritika Swarup at New York Public Library for Altuzarra

Pritika Swarup at New York Public Library for Altuzarra. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Editing

What is your style and how do you differentiate your work from other photographers? Just to be clear, when it comes to streetstyle, for me editing does not include retouching. I colour grade using Capture One, playing with the colours, highlights, and shadows. There are many photographers that are capturing streetstyle at fashion week and essentially, we’re all taking photos of the same person. Editing is one way to differentiate your work. However, the lens, composition, focal points, narrative also can contribute to individualising your work.

Zazie Beetz at Wiederhoef. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Zazie Beetz at Wiederhoef. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

 Models at Carolina Herrera fashion week street style Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Models at Carolina Herrera. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Engagement

I went to NYFW with Whitley Isa, Esosa Cheryl and J.Pamela Stills. We are all members of the Black Women Photographers community, which was founded by Polly Irungu. I mention this here as engaging with people when taking their photos is something that they are all good at.

Victoria Fawole and Maty Fall Diba at Michael Kors. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Victoria Fawole and Maty Fall Diba at Michael Kors. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

In the hustle and bustle of fashion week there is not always time but at the smaller events or slower shows, there is often an opportunity to give direction on posing, and sometimes to talk to people and learn more about them. If you want to get someone’s attention, be nice! A compliment often goes a long way, you can mention something about their work, if you know of the person or you can compliment their outfit.

Indya Moore at Carolina Herrera street style at fashion week bright pink dress

Indya Moore at Carolina Herrera. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Beware of fans!

At some shows such as Michael Kors, Christian Siriano, Altuzurra and Carolina Herrera, there are a lot of fans, often with iPhones in their hands. A lot of the shows at NYFW are at public locations so it can be difficult to navigate at times. This is when lenses such as the 70-200mm come in handy.

Quinta Brunson at Sergio Hudson

Quinta Brunson at Sergio Hudson. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Lighting

A big mistake I made at NYFW was not have some sort of external lighting. Some of the shows such as Tory Burch were in the evening, which meant it was pitch black outside. I mainly relied on the flashes going off from the other photographers’ cameras and borrowing a flash from a friend. However, I would recommend having a source of flash or continuous lighting.

Janet Jackson at Christian Siriano new york fashion week

Janet Jackson at Christian Siriano. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Have fun

Although hectic, I enjoy photographing streetstyle at fashion week, whether it’s talking to other photographers, running from location to location between shows or manoeuvring the crowds of fans. It’s important to have fun!

Sai De Silva at Altuzarra. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

Sai De Silva at Altuzarra. Photo: Tobi Sobowale

To see more of Tobi’s work check out her website and Instagram @shobo_photography

For further inspiration, here are some photographers to look at:

Yossy Akinsanya https://www.instagram.com/yossyakin/

Noorunisa https://www.instagram.com/noorunisa/

Simbarashe Cha https://www.instagram.com/simbarashecha/

Emily White https://www.instagram.com/emilywhte/

Phil Oh https://www.instagram.com/mrstreetpeeper/

Many thanks to MPB for the Canon RF 70-200mm f2.8 lens used in these photos.

Further reading:

How to be an ethical street photographer

Alan Schaller: how to create your own recognisable style in street photography

How to be street smart as a photographer

Best Camera For Street Photography

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