A passion for fashion and a unique eye for creating art are two indicators that the world of fashion photography may be the one for you. This industry is fast paced, ever changing, and extremely competitive, but it can also be lucrative and fulfilling to create art that is used in magazines, advertisements, and billboards. Fashion photography work usually includes editorials, high fashion or runway work.
For any beginners looking to break into the fashion photography industry, we’ve put together a top list of tips and tricks that every beginner fashion photographer should know.
The first step is an easy one–immerse yourself in the fashion world. Understanding the current trends in fashion is really important, and you’ll also want to try to anticipate where the trends are headed. Fashion changes with the seasons so how you photograph fashion is also going to continue to change as well. While you don’t need to be a fashion guru, you should have a solid grasp on the industry because the designers and models you are working with are going to need your artistic direction. As an up-and-coming fashion photographer, you should read fashion magazines, follow your favorite fashion photographers on social media, and try to think critically about the fashion advertisements you see around you. You can also watch parts of different fashion shows, like a New York or Paris fashion week. Another good tip for any beginner fashion photographer is to follow different fashion brands on social media so that you are able to see the types of fashion photography and advertisements they use to sell their products. The key takeaway should be: always research!
One of the most important rules to remember about fashion photography is that it is not portrait photography. In fashion photography, whether you are working in editorials or high fashion, it is important that you are focusing on the elements of fashion: clothes, shoes, accessories, cosmetics or hair. Think about this question: how can you best display the product? Knowing your element of focus will help you decide how to frame your shots and figure out where the focal point of the photograph needs to be. The question is what are you selling and not about who the model is or what they look like–that is the main differentiator between fashion photography and portrait photography. An important fashion tip for any beginner photographer is to learn your style–this will help you with the artistic direction of your shoots and will show clients the type of work you have to offer.
Artwork and photography is all about storytelling. If you can think of the most high profile or memorable fashion photography, they were photos that told a story and made an impact. The storytelling could be about sharing the story of the brand or the specific product line that you are photographing. Create your storyboard ahead of time–think about the lighting, backdrop, props and location that you need to tell your story. When it’s time to add these collections to your online portfolio, you can consider writing blog articles to share your creative journey on how you created the story–this is a great way for fashion photographers to be able to share their knowledge and potentially land more clients. Being able to show that you have the ability to tell a number of different stories is an important way of showing your versatility as a fashion photographer, but having a unique style that you hone can also be beneficial.
An important part of weaving the narrative and telling the story is finding the right background to use for your fashion photography shoot. As a beginner, odds are high that you will not have your own studio, but this doesn’t mean that you are not able to be very successful with your fashion photoshoot. It’s important that you make sure your backdrop is complementary for the fashion item that is being highlighted and that the composition and color theory are properly matched. When the fashion is plain, you may choose a vibrant or interesting background or do the opposite if your fashion item is vibrant. Another good tip is to use the background to frame or enhance your photos. Walk around your community, think of ways the world around you can be worked into your art.
As you start to get serious with your fashion photography work, you’ll need to make sure that you invest in the right equipment. You don’t need to start with an entire tool kit–have a good camera and a lens. For fashion photography, getting yourself a DSLR is the most preferred camera within the industry. Some fashion photographers still do shoot with film cameras for specific styles, but a DSLR is a must have in addition to film. You are also going to want to have a lens that is able to shoot at a medium range–something between the range of 18mm to 200mm. The specific brand of camera or lens is not a one size fits all answer–you can consider the price range you are looking to spend, how the fit and the feel is, etc. As you move from a beginner fashion photographer into some more advanced work you’ll find yourself adding more equipment, like different types of lenses, external flashes, additional lighting, etc.
While props don’t land inside your equipment must haves when you are just getting started as a fashion photographer, props are a great way to add value to your photoshoot and an excellent tool for your storytelling. One of the great things about using props is that they don’t necessarily have to be a major financial investment, you can use items around your house or ones that you find at a thrift store. Props can provide context behind the story that you are trying to tell, can add to the composition of the photo, can help frame the photo or draw the viewers to an area of interest. Props can be anything from fruit to bowls to skateboards to flowers. Free your creative imagination and really think outside the box to create new art.
The final step in any photography work is editing the pictures and this is no different when it comes to fashion photography. Of course you want to choose lighting and framing that is best for the photographs during the photography session, but the editing stage is where you can re-touch any blemishes, work on color correcting, fix the lighting if there are any issues, or play with different filters–like changing your photo to black and white, for example. If you are focused on being in fashion photography for the long haul it is worth investing in a good editing software, something like Adobe Photoshop. It is also worth investing time into learning how to use whatever editing software you chose to go with–you can search the web for more blog posts or Youtube videos from some of your favorite fashion photographers to see what specific techniques they use to edit their work.
Creating a social media platform dedicated to your work as a fashion photographer is an excellent way to build your own brand and share the work that you are doing. It’s really effective in growing the reach of your work. To start, you are going to want to create a social media account just for your fashion photography work, beyond your personal accounts–instagram is a great place to begin. You are not only going to be able to use it as a resource to potentially build your client base, but you can also network with other fashion photographers in your area that could be a good learning resource for you. Building a social media following is hard work, but staying consistent with your posts and asking friends to help amplify your work can really help grow your audience. It’s a good idea to have your social media platform connected to your online portfolio and also drive people to your website through your Instagram stories or other social media platforms.
Have we mentioned that fashion photography is competitive? This industry can be cut throat and hard to break into, but if you put in the hard work and time to get your name out there then you will put yourself in the best position to succeed. Networking is a really important way for you to build contacts and to get your name out there. It can also be a way for you to learn–you can share knowledge with other photographers or with clients on their needs, wants, and industry trends. If networking is something that is hard for you, then start small. You can go to fashion shows and events, focusing on meeting 1-2 new people that you can connect with. You can also search people out on social media and ask them to get a coffee with you or have a phone or video call. Networking can also be done in your community–this could be with different locally owned boutique clothing stores that are in need of photography for their marketing. One of the biggest tips when it comes to networking is the more you do it, the easier and more comfortable it will become.
Here’s what you need to know: practice, practice, practice. One of the most important tips for any fashion photographer who is just beginning their career is to just get started. Build your online photography portfolio by developing content, so start small by working with models and brands within your local community. You can also choose to start with friends–as a good tip, try and choose a person based on the type of fashion photography style that you are trying to create. For example, if you are looking for an edgy or gothic style it’s important to choose a person who could bring that vision to life and that person may be different than someone you would use for a flowery or girl-next-door type photoshoot. This step will help you both gain practice in fashion photography and also create some much needed content for your online portfolio. By working with new models or brands, you can also help them build their business in the process.
Another way you can consider gaining experience is to assist with a fashion photographer on a photoshoot. Since entering the fashion industry can be so competitive, assisting can also be a great way for you to build your network. Depending on how deep or committed you are in your fashion industry work, you can apply to do an internship or formal training. Just because you don’t have the time or resources to do a full internship, it doesn’t mean that you can’t assist or break into the fashion industry. Try reaching out to a local photographer who specializes in fashion photography to see if you can help them with their next shoot. Being an assistant is a great way to learn the ropes or also to gain new ideas and think of ways to improve your fashion photography work while you are just getting started. You can also consider volunteering at different fashion events or shows whether ones that are local or ones that are taking place in the nearest big city.
And now that you are equipped with some effective tips and tricks to become a fashion photographer, it’s time to get started on building your online portfolio. An effective portfolio is going to be an important part in landing new clients and projects within the world of fashion–this helps you network and build your brand. This fast paced and exciting industry is competitive and a stellar portfolio can help set you apart from other fashion photographers–this should consist of 10-20 of your best fashion photographs. Format’s portfolio builder and tips to create a compelling portfolio can help frame your online portfolio perfectly.
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