Fashion photography is dedicated to documenting clothing, accessories, and beauty products to showcase the beauty of the item, and the skill of the designer. All while enticing buyers to shop for these products.
Whether it be editorial campaigns, product photography, or just general street fashion, as a fashion photographer, the sky is the limit in terms of what and how you shoot. Try these ideas to take your fashion photography to the next level.
In order to develop and build your portfolio into a tool that can help you land jobs and create connections, you will likely want to try focusing the majority of your fashion work in the same niche. For example, if you excel in capturing street fashion, you likely won’t want to switch to a more structured style of fashion photography like product photography (i.e. shooting images of apparel for a fashion website).
Point being: The following fashion photography ideas will vary widely, and you should pick and choose which ideas to use based on what style of fashion photography you specialize in.
Having said that, if you’re looking for new creative ideas to shake up your fashion photography career, stepping outside the box may be exactly what the doctor ordered. You can take a look at these best fashion portfolios, or check out these fashion portfolio websites for even more inspiration.
For now, though, let’s get inspired with some of these exciting fashion photography ideas.
To start, we’ll review some of the types of fashion photography ideas you could specialize in. Narrowing in on one of these ideas should help you get the ball rolling in the direction that is best suited for your skills and talent.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to stick with this idea forever, but experimenting and seeing what style excites you the most is a great place to start.
This is one of the easiest ways to get started with fashion photography because street fashion is all around you, no matter where you are in the world.
While it might be easier to spot photograph-worthy street fashion in a big city like NYC, if you search long enough or think outside the box, your eye for streetwear fashion will develop over time.
Working professionally in editorial fashion photography might take more time to develop, but at its core, editorial photography is really just about telling a story. Editorial photography could mean working with a small independent fashion magazine, or a big-name fashion magazine like Vogue.
If you have the ability to capture beautiful images and tell a story while doing so, editorial fashion photography could be for you.
High fashion tends to be outside the box or avant-garde. The styles you’ll be shooting are probably not what you’re used to seeing while walking down the street. Either that or you’re working with luxury brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton. This style of photography will likely require you to have a strong vision in mind.
While shooting fashion can be very artistic in nature, don’t forget that fashion is also a product. Whether it be clothing, shoes, jewelry, or handbags, these are all commodities that are sold in a variety of settings. In particular, with the rise of online shopping, more than ever, skilled photographers who can shoot products in a stylized and fashion-focused setting can be a very helpful skill to have.
Playing off that last idea, if the idea of just shooting plain clothing doesn’t really appeal, don’t forget that fashion product photography can also be highly stylized and involve models. For instance, maybe you need to shoot images for a fashion brand’s website, or maybe they have product flyers that require images. Either way, working on fashion product photography certainly doesn’t have to be stale or boring.
Never feel like you need to be put into a box when it comes to your fashion photography. Whether it be a planned photoshoot, street style, or something for an editorial magazine, getting experimental with your style can make a big impact. For instance, maybe the clothing itself is very avant-garde, maybe the way the pieces are worn themselves are unconventional, or perhaps the location of the shoots feels atypical. You can even play with the editing of the image. Whatever the case, we always encourage fashion photographers to step outside the box.
Need a little more structure with your fashion photography? Maybe working in fashion advertising would be a good fit for you.
With this style of fashion photography, you have the ability to get creative with your work, but you’re also working with a client who has a specific vision in mind. Fashion advertisements could include everything from a brand’s entire collection, swimwear sets, jewelry, a range of footwear, or even a mix of different things if you’re working with a store that carries a wide variety of fashion pieces.
If you want to work with people, but you don’t necessarily want to work with traditional models in a magazine setting or advertising campaign, don’t forget that there are plenty of influencers out there who require professional imagery for their social media presence.
This type of fashion photography can be collaborative, creative, and intimate.
You can also take your love of fashion and photography to the runway. Most high fashion brands will show their designs at different fashion shows all around the world. This type of photography doesn’t have much creative freedom or variety involved with it, but if you like knowing what to expect, runway fashion photography is worth looking into.
Now it’s time for the fun part: brainstorming some photoshoot ideas. You’ll find that these ideas are suited for a variety of different styles. For instance, you’ll find that some photoshoot ideas are directly related to street fashion photography, but others might be more well suited for someone who wants to specialize in advertising campaigns.
Pick and choose the fashion photoshoot ideas that work best for your preferred style, and you’ll have the perfect jumping-off point for your next photoshoot.
When coming up with your next fashion photoshoot idea, your instinct might be to pick out the boldest designs, the most intricate set, and plenty of props to help your vision come to life. But what about keeping it more simple and classic with black and white?
Always chic and perfectly suited for fashion photography, play with black and white photography for a more simplified and streamlined aesthetic. Keeping styling to a minimum can also help reinforce the more classic approach.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s always fun to play with color when it comes to fashion photography. You can do this through the set or props, but we also highly encourage styling the wardrobe with unexpected color combos. This can help bring the photo to life and create some visual interest.
Sticking with the theme of color, you can also have a monochromatic photoshoot. This means essentially everything in your shoot should be the same color, or at the very least, very similar in color.
With this idea, you have to be careful because your photo could end up feeling very flat and dull if all the colors blend together, but with texture, positioning, and angles, a monochromatic fashion photo can be striking.
Using reflections in your photography always has the potential for an interesting result but fashion photography tends to be particularly well suited for the use of reflections since fashion is inherently self-reflective in nature. You can do this with a model actually looking in the mirror, but you can also use water or other reflective surfaces to create the illusion of a mirror.
In fashion photography, the details are extremely important. Of course, though, when you’re caught up in a full shoot, it’s easy enough to forget about those small details. Don’t let this be you. Whether it be the buttons on a shirt, the pleats on a skirt, or the print of a dress, be sure to capture the details of the piece, especially if you’re shooting lookbooks or other product photography.
Juxtaposition is a great technique to use in photography, and fashion photography is no exception. If you want to create visual interest with your photo, try juxtaposing the style with the environment. In other words, have your model wearing an outfit that doesn’t seem to fit the setting. For instance, this colorful, skin-baring dress is probably not the first piece of clothing you would reach for when hitting the ski slopes.
If you specialize in runway photography, your main objective is to capture the models, the outfits they’re wearing, and the extra style details that help to give the brand its aesthetic.
Having said that, oftentimes, we can forget about how important it is to capture the full set when shooting a runway show. This could be an expansive shot, or it could focus on small set details.
There are many different ways you can go about this, but to give you an easy-to-implement idea, we highly recommend having your model wear a piece in a way that you wouldn’t normally see. For instance, you normally wouldn’t wear a leather jacket over your head as shown in this photo, but in the context of a fashion photo, this styling helps separate the piece from every other photo of a model wearing a leather jacket.
As with all styles of photography, having a well-thought-out and professional portfolio can make all the difference in establishing your career and gaining clients. Think of your portfolio as the hub of all your work. It defines you, shows off your style, and helps clients determine whether they want to work with you or not.
If you need ideas for your portfolio, we highly recommend implementing some of these:
As mentioned previously, the most successful fashion photographers will likely have a certain style that they excel in. Not only will specializing in a certain style of fashion photography help you attract the right clients, but it can also help with creating a portfolio that feels cohesive.
When potential clients come across a portfolio that feels intentionally cohesive, they are much more likely to stick around. Marie Canciani is a great example of how a cohesive portfolio can make a strong impact.
On occasion, you might find that keeping your portfolio cohesive is impossible. Perhaps you have the experience to be working with multiple styles, or maybe you just prefer to work with various clients who require different aesthetics. Whatever the case, you should always try your best to keep your portfolio organized by separating out different projects and styles of photography.
For instance, in Jess LaFrankie’s portfolio, we see that fashion and advertising photography have been separated into their own categories. You can also do this by individual project if you want each photography project to have its own individual page.
Another option for those of you who are having difficulty keeping your portfolio organized is to implement a personal page. You’ll find that many photographers who have more than one interest or style will utilize a “personal” page as a spot to put their work that doesn’t necessarily match their typical style but that is still worth highlighting.
Andrew Gough does this on his portfolio website with a page simply labeled “personal. “
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when putting together your portfolio is doing too much. You want your images to speak for themselves. You don’t want a lot of text, color, or other graphics on the page with your portfolio. Instead, opt for a neutral background, easy-to-read text, and little to no other graphics.
Kristine Kitty’s portfolio is a good example of how keeping things minimal can help let the images shine.
As mentioned, you want to keep your portfolio relatively neutral and distraction-free. Having said that, this doesn’t mean you should miss an opportunity to establish your brand within your portfolio.
For example, Tanner Abel is a photographer who specializes in celebrating alternative gender expression. While his photos speak for themselves, Tanner utilizes a bold logo and contrasting black and white details to liven up his website, while still keeping things neutral and distraction-free.
There are many different ways you can set up the navigation on your website portfolio. You can choose to have all your images on one page, you can dedicate one image to one page, you can set up a side-scrolling feature, or you can utilize a slideshow that automatically runs through your work.
There’s no right or wrong way to set up the navigation on your portfolio. The only mistake you can make here is to not think about it all.
While some photographers might choose to have a home page that features all their most important information, others will opt for a landing page that requires the visitor to click an “enter” button before they reach the home page.
This idea is really just about personal preference, but it’s something that a lot of photographers implement in order to create a first impression prior to entering the full website.
Don’t forget that your portfolio doesn’t have to showcase every fashion photo you’ve ever taken. Even if you have a shoot that you are particularly proud of, you don’t have to include every angle and every variation of the same photo. Pick the best ones that really show off your style, and you should have plenty of content.
Any of the incredible best fashion portfolios featured by Format are great examples of photographers who know how to feature their best work.
When in doubt about how to make your fashion photography come to life, one of the best tips we can offer is to start with a theme.
The theme is the overarching vision or aesthetic behind your image. It’s the feeling that a person will experience when they look at your work.
Knowing your theme can help you make more informed decisions about models, wardrobe, props, and even setting. Once you have a theme for your photoshoot, the rest should fall into place.
Luxury can be a theme all by itself. The aesthetic usually feels glamorous, chic, and oftentimes, over-the-top. Even in a photo that is done in a neutral color palette as shown here, we can still get that luxury theme treatment by throwing in Chanel references.
As we mentioned above, as a fashion photographer, you can get experimental and artistic with your work. Within this idea, you can also choose to be a bit quirky with your theme. This usually entails using props, bright colors, and playful details as shown in this image. Think almost child-like and with an air of playfulness.
When it comes to a sexy theme, you have options. You can go for a more conventional approach, you can add a bit of an edge, or you can go for a subtle approach. However you choose to play with this theme, it’s important to be intentional about it. In this example, the sexy theme is obvious, unapologetic, and definitely intentional.
Using chrome accents, sleek silhouettes, and a minimal color palette can all help with your futuristic theme. In this example, we see the theme come through with the black latex, sunglasses, sleek hair, and metal accents.
Keep in mind, you can always combine themes, as indicated here where we see both the futuristic theme in combination with a sexy one.
Nature themes can not only make for beautiful photos, but they can also be relatively easy to implement. Usually simply just getting out into nature can help you create a nature theme in your photo. In addition, if you’re working with more natural fabrics, simple silhouettes, or nature-inspired prints, this can also help reinforce the nature theme.
If you appreciate a good feminine detail or you enjoy a bit of softness in your photos, we highly recommend implementing a romantic or whimsical theme. You can do this through styling, utilizing props like flowers, or simply heading into a forest or garden. Your main objective, if this is the style you want to capture, should be to make your image feel magical or like something out of a fairytale.
Just as vintage fashion can be popular commercially, so can vintage-inspired photography.
You can create this nostalgic feel through the clothing the models wear, but you can also implement a nostalgic feel by utilizing a set that feels set in the past, as well as photographic effects that make the image itself look vintage.
And lastly, while some of the above examples might make use of the shock factor, you don’t always need to be shocking in order to deliver a great photo.
More sweet and tender themes tend to work great if you’re combining child photography with fashion photography. You can also use animals in your photo to help get this theme across.
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