Bicycle fashion photography

i’ll be at the Pedal Savvy bicycle fashion show on November 6 during the San Francisco Bicycle Expo.


Pedal Savvy Bicycle Fashion Show 2010 San Francisco Nov 6 at the SF Cow Palace

SF Bike Expo is much more than just a fashion show, of course. Primarily, it’s a swap meet combined with a trade show that features mostly local (SF Bay Area and northern California) vendors. There’s also good bike action with BMX, Dirt Jumping, Cyclocross Racing and a pump track. Tickets are $10 pre-paid, $12 at the door.


The main point of this post is to ask for fashion runway photography advice.

I shot last year’s bike fashion show with existing light, mostly with f2.0 1/60 second ISO 1600, and took several blurry shots; models on bicycles move pretty quickly, it turns out. There’s a lot of clutter at the Cow Palace so framing while panning is a real challenge.

Since the men and women will ride bicycles, I think I want to get mostly full body shots. The 50mm lens I used last year was just a little too close for the crowded environment at SF Bike Expo. Any comments on these lens choices I’m looking at?

  • Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS. The price is right and I like the zoom range. I’m a little bit scared about f4 for indoor action photography even with IS. If f4 will work, this is the lens I’d pick.
  • Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 XR Di II VC for Canon. Again, a good price, and it has image stabilization (which Tamron calls “Vibration Control”) so f2.8 should work fine. I’m a little concerned this might be a hair too wide, though. Would 17mm closeup make Pedal Savvy models (and their apparel) look too deformed?
  • Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS. This lens costs a hair more to rent, but seems to hit the sweet spot as far as the kind of zoom I’m looking for.
  • I think I’d really like something like a 17-70 zoom, f2.8 with IS, but I don’t see a lens like that.

I’d really like to avoid flash on the runway if possible, but is off-camera flash something you would do? I own a stroboframe and wired shoe cord, or I can go completely off-camera with a helper holding the flash and remote triggering but I don’t own that equipment so I’d have to rent the remote. The problems with flash include (1) recharge time and (2) flash photos look crappy.

I’m just a hack at this stuff, so I appreciate the input!


The Minneapolis Fashion Week last September included Style Derby – a bicycle fashion show featuring Twin Cities designers, such as this cute ensemble from Minneapolis artist Danielle Everine.


Style Derby

Tim & Thom Navarro, known for their repurposed fashions, had this groovy Han Solo on a bike look.


Style Derby

Style Derby photos are by Eric Peterson, and posted here with his permission. You can view his entire Style Derby photoset here. He shot with flash because, obviously, Style Derby took place inside a dark building. He used a 24-70mm lens, and most of his shots in this photoset are zoomed from 24mm to about 40mm and I think they look fine. More on Style Derby at Le Toile Magazine. With a tip of the hat to Riding Pretty.

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