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So You Want To Be A ... Fashion Photographer

by Samantha Lee (follow)
Blog (395)      Articles (166)     
Fashion photography is as popular now as it ever was. Fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar have remained to be salient sources of trends and inspiration while fashion blogs and websites have helped democratize the industry, allowing its visions and ideals to reach more people around the globe, and faster.

It comes as no surprise why more and more photographers want to get into this field. The perceived glitz and glamour of the industry makes it appealing to everyone.

Here are a few tips to help you get started as a fashion photographer:

Be willing to learn

No matter what genre of photography you want to succeed in, it is important to know and master different photography techniques and camera basics. The last thing you want during a crucial shoot is to be fumbling around your camera because you can’t remember how to get the settings right. In the case of fashion photography, it is also vital to know how to setup and operate different strobe lights and flashes.


To get started, become an apprentice or intern for photographers that you look up to so you can learn more about the industry. An academic environment will not be able to simulate the real world, high-pressure situations of a commercial shoot. Doing internships will help expose you to these situations while allowing you to build connections as well, which are incredibly important in this highly competitive industry.

Learning isn’t limited to photography alone; expose yourself to the different parts of the fashion shoot process like styling, hair, makeup and editing so that it’s easier for you to give creative direction and instruction to the people you will be working with.


Develop your style
Your photographic style usually aligns with the kinds of photographs you like looking at. Are you drawn to cleaner images versus dark and moody ones? Do you spend more time looking at more avant garde editorials versus more classic ones? Are you better at photographing men or women?


Immerse yourself in different magazines and books and discover which styles you connect with. Once you identify a particular style you are attracted to, take notes about how the photos are lit, what perspective they use or how the model is captured. It’s time to create your brand as a photographer.


Although it’s important to be flexible, especially during commercial shoots, what will attract clients to your work is your unique visual style and brand. Think about it this way: when you’re in the supermarket trying to pick out laundry detergent, you will be more attracted to the brand that sells itself for its specific characteristics like “removes stains”, “lasts longer” and “reliable” versus the homebrand detergent that doesn’t have a specific selling point.


Work with people and brands that align with your style
Edward Steichen, one of the first fashion photographers once said: “Fashion photography is as much about the people behind the lens than in front of it.”

Being a fashion photographer is both a solitary and collaborative job. Solitary because because the ideas, your vision, should come from you and nobody else. Collaborative because an army of stylists, designers, makeup artists, will help you transform your visions into reality.
Surround yourself with talent that scares you. This is important when you’re starting out because it forces you to step-up to their level. In the fashion industry, it’s important to network with people that you trust and respect creatively so that you can focus on creating great images and expanding your ideas.

Always have a plan B
There’s a lot of things that can go wrong in a fashion shoot. The model might not be what you envisaged, the clothes might not fit, the hair might not fit with the brief, the weather may not be co-operating: it only needs one thing to go wrong for your vision to be compromised.


As a fashion photographer, it’s always good to have ideas in case something doesn’t work. Do not be a one trick pony and definitely learn to to think on your toes. Sometimes the best images come from happy accidents!


Put yourself out there
There is no shame in self-promotion. Expand your portfolio, build a website, update your Instagram and social media. But putting yourself out there isn’t limited to you sitting in front of a computer the whole day, interact with your clients during shoots, go to fashion graduate shows and it can paid to do shoots for free in the long run. This industry is all about making connections, and chances are, editors aren’t going to hire if they haven’t personally met you. People always want to be able to put a face to a name so it’s important to find a balance between your online presence and your real life one.


Overnight success is a myth
In every industry, everyone has to pay their dues. The fashion industry is constantly evolving and there will always be opportunities for you to stand out. Working hard, being respectful and always being on time will get you a long way.

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