An inside look at CFW from a photographer’s perspective.

As we now look back at Colombo Fashion Week season 17, one cannot help but admire the organizing team’s continued ambitious efforts in elevating the fashion scene within Colombo & Sri Lanka. As always, the CFW team raised the bar once again, and continue to push forward expanding on what Colombo Fashion Week as an event has to offer & the benefits it would bring to the Fashion Industry.

That said, from my position as a Fashion Photographer offering photography services to the Fashion Designers & Fashion brands within the market, the fact I helped cover the previous Colombo Swim Week as an official photographer, & the fact I had been closely following up on CFW S17, I believe there is further room for improvement.

Mind you, my personal comments here will be mostly directed towards photography & videography given my profession & experience.

Let us start with the center stage of the fashion event; the ramp.

I have come to understand that the technical lighting team assigned to set up the ramp lighting for all CFW events is in favor of the ‘edgy’ (colorful special effects with spotlights) over the more traditional simplistic clean uniform light setup.

As much as this approach helps entertain the seated audience, it is proven to fail / downgrade the overall quality of videography & photography material captured during the show. I, for one, believe that high quality material for magazines / blogs / media outlets is far more valuable than a temporary wow factor aimed at pleasing the seated audience. In fact, I’d rather see such an edgy lighting setup done at a musical concert rather than at a fashion show.

Allow me to further elaborate. You see, a fashion show is all about displaying the Fashion Designers’ garments / accessories. Consistent even bright white lighting across the ramp illuminates the product perfectly no matter the position of the model, showcasing even the smallest of details, and offers almost zero margin of error. On the other hand, flashy colored lighting affects the hues of the garments, it creates uneven light across the ramp, while overhead light tends to cast deep dark shadows on the models & products, and margins of errors are high (as one misstep from the model’s side could cast him/her in dark corners away from the reach of the programmed lights).

Furthermore, illuminated floor panels help create a pleasant environment versus the traditional white floor which has a tendency to display muddy / dirty grayish zones due to light reflecting unevenly over the surface.

Lighting aside, I personally feel that the official photography & videography teams assigned to cover Colombo Fashion Week’s behind the scenes & ramp are more of an after thought rather than a well thought step along planning.

Rotations, shifts & well thought incentives are missing & much needed to keep the official photographers in optimum health, focus & high motivation. As it currently stands, photographers are presented assignments, some spend more than 15 hours a day over the course of 4 - 5 days on location capturing, covering & creating content. Often staying awake overnight to deliver content for the next morning’s publications.

Rotations and shifts help keep the photographers stress free, fresh and allow them to partake in the event rather than miss out on socializing, rest & nourishment. They also allow all participating photographers equal opportunities at attending / covering the different functions on offer.

Some would suggest that such a glamorous event should provide adequate exposure & opportunities to the participating photographers, yet others would argue that working for exposure is not an incentive that applies or appeals to many. In fact, everyone participating at a such an event (be it a model, hair stylist, makeup artist, administrative crew, or photographer) deserves to be compensated fairly for their effort unless they’re volunteering in exchange for experience.

Finally, the inclusion of a photographers' representative on the CFW organizing panel could add enormous value when it comes to ironing out details including but not limited to storage of equipment on location, lighting setup, seating arrangements, choreography, planning of crew shifts, activities & delivery schedule. Many small details which could add many benefits to production value.

All in all, I as a Fashion Photographer, would love to see many further improvements made over the current technical and administrative approach run by the Colombo Fashion Week organizing body, and as always wishing everyone participating in future CFW & CSW events all the success.