The Sony a6000 is a phenomenal camera. It has a nice, lightweight body with a comfortable grip, quick and effective autofocus, and a responsive electronic viewfinder. The pictures it takes are of high quality, as well.
The a6000 is good for a wide range of different photography niches, but one area where it really shines is fashion photography. Whether you’re in a studio or on the runway, this camera has enough strength and versatility to give you some really great photos. That being said, getting the best photos out of this camera can be tricky, and every niche has its subtle little tips and tricks.
Here are some of the things you can do to give yourself an edge with Sony a6000 fashion photography. In general, the key is acclimating yourself to your camera, as well as the shooting conditions around you. Lastly, it’s also important to get in tune with your subject.
Get A Decent Tripod
For both studio and runway shooting, having a decent tripod is often essential. Studio photography is all about having the perfect setup to photograph your model. Runway photography can also benefit from some stability, especially if you want to get nice panning shots of models going down the runway.
There are a lot of options in terms of tripods, but you generally want to go with something that is stable, portable, and versatile. Some features, such as the ability to invert the center column, are largely useless in fashion photography, so it’s typically enough to go with something simple and effective.
One thing to consider is the maximum load on your tripod. Since you will probably have a range of different lenses that are weighted differently, it might also be a good idea to get a bracket that centers the weight of your camera over the tripod.
Manage Your Shutter Speed
If you’re shooting models on a runway, chances are you’re going to want a faster shutter speed. There are many moments where flowing fabrics or strutting models in general can get blurry if you shoot them at a slow shutter speed. Having a speed of between 1/250th of a second and 1/500th of a second is optimal. Luckily, the a6000 is more than capable of getting these types of shots.
Now, sometimes, you may want to go with a slower shutter speed just to add a little bit of blur to the action in the photo. This comes in handy if some of the clothing being shown has lots of flowing fabric, and you want to bring the true feeling of a fashion show into your photography. It all comes down to knowing what you want your photos to look like.
If you have some extra time and space at your next show, play around with some different shutter speeds, and pay attention to how it affects your photos. Experimentation is key to learning what the a6000 can do.
Get Some Decent Lighting
If you’re shooting in a studio, you will need a pretty involved lighting setup to get everything looking exactly the way you want it. Even if you’re shooting on-site somewhere, or at a high-end fashion show looking up at a runway, getting the proper lighting equipment is essential. For the a6000, you have quite a few options at your disposal.
First of all, the actual lights you use are really important. Find a good balance with the natural light available and, if necessary, set up other lighting accessories like umbrellas or reflectors. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to start with a decent compact fluorescent light (CFL). The reason these are good for beginners is that they don’t get as hot as incandescent bulbs, and they are less expensive than the LED alternatives.
If you have some extra funds, go for the LEDs. They have a longer life, don’t use as much power, and generally give you more control over the kinds of lighting you can achieve. They’re also much more durable than glass bulbs.
Get A Good Portrait Lens
Doing portrait shots is a fairly unique niche compared to things like runway shooting or landscape photography. Longer focal lengths will give you a more flattering portrait than shorter focal lengths. That being said, there are times when you are going to be limited in terms of space, which can make shooting at longer focal lengths a bit more difficult.
The general rule of thumb is to shoot at the maximum focal length that space allows. It’s also always good to be prepared to shoot at a wider angle if necessary. Sometimes, the clothing you want to capture on your model will force you to treat the shoot differently.
Having a variety of lenses available for these purposes is advisable. Zoom lenses are versatile and easy to use, but primes will give you better bokeh.
Always Keep Shooting
Although you may think you have gotten the perfect shot, it’s always a good idea to keep shooting. The continuous shooting mode on the a6000 is good for this because it gives you a lot of shots from a single moment of shooting. Getting as many shots as possible gives you a lot to play with in post-processing.
Of course, the continuous shooting mode can also quickly fill up space on your camera or drain your battery. The key here is to find a balance between space, battery life, and shooting conditions to make sure you can get as many quality pictures as possible.
Play Around With Your Camera
The a6000 is a powerful camera, with a lot of different features that can produce a lot of different effects. Depending on the type of fashion photography you are doing, you might want different kinds of lighting, aperture sizes, filters, or focal lengths. Staying in tune with what your camera can do is easier if you play around with all the different tricks it can do.
Just remember that an important moment at a high-end fashion show you’ve been commissioned to shoot is not the time to be playing around too much. Experimentation can create some truly amazing photography, but it’s never a good idea to play around when it’s time to be serious. It’s all about being aware and prepared for the moment.
Do Some Heavy Reading
There are a lot of technical aspects of photography that the a6000 touches on. Knowing your way around the camera itself is step one to creating good pictures. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about your camera, chances are there are a few features or settings that are hiding from you.
The best way to inform yourself in this regard is to read the manual that comes with the a6000. There are also many independently written guides available on Amazon, or free internet articles (like this one!) that can give you plenty of information.
Lastly, if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to read up on things like the science behind photography, because this will give you a more practical understanding of things like aperture sizes and focal lengths. You don’t need to become a theoretical optician, just inform yourself of the theory behind taking pictures as much as you can.
Prime Lenses Versus Zoom Lenses
We touched on this a bit earlier when we were talking about which lenses to use, but it’s good to consider the pros and cons of using a prime lens versus a zoom lens. Generally speaking, zoom lenses are faster and more versatile, while prime lenses will give you a clearer photo and higher quality bokeh effect.
Bokeh is the blur around the subject that you get with a shallow depth of field. It helps highlight the subject and separate it from the background in a visually appealing way. It also gives the photographer a lot of control over which part of the photo stands out.
Generally, for fashion photography, you want to have both zoom and prime lenses available. The reason for this is that studio photography is generally more about having the proper set up than getting your timing just right. At a runway show, however, you want something that can quickly and efficiently get the focus and such that you want.
Learn To Shoot Raw Most Of The Time
Shooting in the raw format gives you a lot more detail in your photographs that you can play with in post-processing. Using other formats, such as JPEG can end up compressing a lot of the visual info, limiting your options in post-processing.
To shoot in raw format on the a6000, press the menu button, and select the “Image Size” submenu. Use the control wheel to navigate to where it says “Quality” in the “Still” section. Again using the control wheel, change the quality setting to “Raw”, and press the soft key C to apply your changes.
Playing with the other settings will give you some control over things like how much space your photos take up on your camera. Shooting in raw is generally recommended because it avoids the loss of visual data.
Know Your Studio Or Stage
To be prepared when it comes to things like lighting and focal lengths, you will need to have some intimate knowledge of your shooting conditions. Things like the size of the space, possible obstructions, and the number of people who will be in attendance will all have a deep effect on how your shoot plays out.
If you’re shooting at a fashion show, it’s important to also make sure that your rig is efficiently sized and weighted. You won’t make any friends setting up a bulky tripod and lighting setup in and among a bunch of competing photographers trying to get a shot. Knowing exactly the kind of scenario you will find yourself in while shooting helps avoid conflicts such as these.
Pay Attention To Your Batteries And Hard Drive
Having your a6000 die on you, or become filled with photos during a shoot can be a pain in the neck. Nobody likes having a nice productive day cut short due to equipment failure. The a6000 generally has enough juice and space to get through plenty of shooting but depending on the types of photos and such you are taking, you might be more at risk than you think.
If you want to avoid having your camera die or fill up during a shoot, carrying around a few extra batteries and memory cards is key. There are lots of options out there, but generally it’s better to go with actual Sony brand batteries for your a6000. The cheaper batteries tend to not last as long.
For memory, a 64GB card is considered a good starting point. This gives you space for plenty of photographs, and even videos if you need. Upgrading to bigger cards is more expensive but avoids the problem of having to carry lots of cards around.
Remember The Rule Of Thirds
This might seem like a basic suggestion, but some people just aren’t aware of the basics. The so-called “rule of thirds” is a theoretical idea in photography where you think about your photo as if it were divided into three equal sections (both vertically and horizontally). These divisions help you group subjects in an image so that the result seems properly composed.
The best example of this for fashion photography would be positioning a model within a portrait. Many beginning photographers will want to place the subject’s eyes close to the top of the frame, but they are not aware that this can make the subject look out-of-place, or even cut off some of their features. Placing your subject’s eyes about one-third down the frame is considered optimal.
The a6000 has a grid overlay that can be enabled for the electronic viewfinder. This overlay helps you envision the different “zones” of your shot, and position your subject(s) accordingly. Once you get used to using the rule of thirds, it will become second nature.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to fire away in the comments section!