Fashion photography is undoubtedly one of the most glamorous niches any photographer could ever wish to pursue. Those that make it to the top not only get to shoot gorgeous models and celebrities, but many of them also earn a lot doing it.
However, if you’re an aspiring fashion photographer, you probably know it’s not only hard to make it to the top, but starting in the industry in itself can be difficult.
Nevertheless, if you work hard and have the right attitude, nothing is impossible. In this article, we’ll share with you crucial fashion photography tips that will help you achieve your goals.
1. Take Fashion Photos of Your Friends
It can be challenging to collaborate with other artists if you don’t have photos that show what you can do. So before you start contacting models, stylists, and make-up artists, make sure you take a lot of fashion-themed pictures. Doing so will make it easier for people to decide if they want to work with you.
To start, you can look at magazines, fashion websites, and even Instagram for inspiration. Study how famous photographers compose their shots, and recreate them. The goal is not to copy the photos exactly, but to familiarize yourself with the creative and technical aspects of fashion photography.
Now that you have an idea for a shoot, you can ask a few friends if they’d like their portraits taken. You’re bound to make mistakes when you’re still learning, so you might as well do it around people you’re comfortable with.
You don’t have to produce hundreds of pictures right away. Having a dozen images is enough as long as you cover a broad spectrum of styles. With just a few photos, demonstrate that you can shoot anything from black and white fashion photography to editorial fashion photography. Depending on the job, you may need to obtain a photo release form.
2. Collaborate With Other Artists
Now that you have a few photos to show, you can start looking for people to collaborate with. If you don’t know any models, stylists, and make-up artists personally, you can find them on websites such as ModelMayhem and One Model Place. Prepare the small collection of images you took of your friends because these sites require you to upload a portfolio.
Your images will be a way for other artists to gauge how good you are at fashion photography. If they like what they see, they’ll be compelled to work with you. The same goes when you look at the portfolios of the individuals you want to include in your team. If they have an impressive body of work, there’s great potential you’ll produce beautiful images together.
While there are artists on these websites asking for monetary compensation, you’ll also find a good number of them offering what’s called “time for print.” This means they’re willing to provide their service for free as long as you give them photos in return. Since you’re just starting in the industry, this is a perfect way to expand your portfolio without spending any money.
Now that you have some experience photographing people, you’ll be confident enough to take photos of individuals you don’t know very well. Even though you’ll be working for free, remember to act professionally and treat it like a real job. In this stage of your career, it’s vital to practice strong work ethic on top of honing your photography skills.
3. Teach Yourself How to Edit
Apart from taking photos, you also need to learn how to retouch your work and make it look better. The two most popular editing programs you can use are Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.
While these apps have a lot of similarities, they both serve specific purposes as well. There are plenty of technical differences between the two, but these are the important aspects that you need to know:
Photoshop has all the components you’ll need for editing photos. It has dozens of tools that allow you to do anything from simple retouching to doing complex photo manipulations.
However, since it has a lot of “moving parts,” it can also be too complicated and time-consuming.
If you want to get things done faster, then Lightroom is the perfect app to use. It’s ideal for quickly applying color correction, color grading, and minimal retouching. It may have fewer controls, but it offers a smoother workflow than Photoshop.
You can choose one over the other depending on your needs. However, it’s a great idea to have them both especially since editing requirements vary from one photo to another.
Even if Lightroom satisfies most of your needs, you still might need Photoshop for more extensive editing.
4. Develop a Style
Style is highly subjective, and can’t be taught. However, there are a few methods you can try to help you find your signature look.
First, you need to ask yourself what inspires you the most. Do you enjoy doing street fashion photography more than high fashion photography? Or do you like to mix both? There’s no right or wrong answer, but whatever you choose, work on developing it.
You can also study different trends and find ways to break off of them. Let’s use the photography legend Richard Avedon as an example.
Instead of following the tradition of posing models like mannequins, he made himself stand out by making his subjects move around and pose more freely. His style was so influential that it has become the prevalent approach among photographers today.
Style can be elusive, and unfortunately, some people never find it. The secret is not to pursue it aggressively. Just strive to be original and always think of different ways to shoot. With dedication, you’ll eventually discover your vision.
5. Create a Solid Fashion Photography Portfolio
Now that you’re preparing for a real career in fashion photography, the photos you took of your friends won’t suffice, anymore. Thankfully, because of your creative collaborations, you now have the appropriate content to create a portfolio.
This time around, however, you need to be more meticulous and choose only the very best images.
If you want to be taken seriously, you have to invest in creating a photography website. Apart from that, you also need to build a physical portfolio so you don’t need to bring a computer to an interview.
Many editors still prefer to review real prints, and everything looks better on paper than on screen, anyway.
Ask people to help you decide which photos to include, and which ones to discard. Listen to what they have to say. If they have some criticism, acknowledge it humbly.
If you find their opinions a bit hurtful, remember that you’ll receive an even harsher critique from the editors you submit your work to. You need to be tough in this industry, so learn from your mistakes and continue improving yourself.
6. Share Your Work on Social Media
Apart from creating a portfolio, sharing your images on social media is a great way to gain exposure. In recent years, Instagram, in particular, has become the best platform for companies to scout for fresh talent. If you religiously post eye-catching images, don’t be surprised if agencies start contacting you.
It can take a while to gain a following, especially since social media is now saturated with fashion photographers. However, if your work is good and you have a distinct style, you’ll eventually gain people’s attention and see your followers go up.
Don’t forget to include hashtags along with your images if you want everyone to see your work. Using the basic hashtag #fashionphotography alone will make your photos show up in other people’s Instagram feed.
To boost your discoverability, look for the most popular relevant hashtags and use them every time you post content. Feel free to mix up the keywords every once in a while to increase your audience even more.
7. Build Your Network
Even if you’re a gifted photographer, it’s still going to be challenging to get anywhere without connections. Unless your social circle is already in the fashion industry, you’ll need to build your network yourself.
The individuals that you collaborate with are often the first ones that can introduce you to other people. Along the way, you might encounter a few artists who have done bigger gigs and know other professionals. If your work is exemplary, they might just be willing to recommend you to their friends in the business.
Also feel free to meet and work with more experienced photographers. Doing things by yourself, especially if you don’t know exactly how to do them can be nerve-wracking.
By becoming a photographer’s assistant, you’ll have a mentor who can teach you a lot about the business. If you do a great job, they might even invite you to work on bigger projects along the way.
Stay in touch with everyone you meet because they can be the key to your success. Keep your lines open because you never know when opportunity starts knocking.
There isn’t exactly any step-by-step process to follow if you want to know how to become a fashion photographer. Nevertheless, keeping these tips in mind will make your journey to becoming a paid professional easier.
No matter which path you end up following, just keep clicking that shutter. Remember that in the end, exceptional photos are still the best assets you need to succeed.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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