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How to Take Fashion Photos: A Complete Guide

Last updated: April 12, 2024 - 16 min read
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How to Take Fashion Photos: A Complete Guide

Fashion photography can seem like a very specialized world, impossible to get into. Fashion shoots look like they involve large teams of people, and lots of specialist, expensive gear. But there are ways of getting started, and lots of tips and techniques to learn along the way.


Getting Started

There are some basic things you can learn to ease your way into fashion photography. Learning to shoot with your cameea tethered to your computer, for instance. It might well cost nothing, but makes a world of difference to your shooting experience. And being confident with poses for your model is another bonus. We’ve gathered a load of tips together for you to consider and learn from.


Tethering Your Camera

Tethered photography is when you connect your camera to a computer. This allows you to see photos on a bigger screen as you take them. You can easily fix mistakes and reshoot without leaving your computer.

To do tethered photography, you need a USB cable and software. Lightroom Classic has a built-in tethering feature that’s simple to use. Just connect your camera to your computer, open Lightroom, and go to File > Tethered Capture > Start Tethered Capture.

Lightroom’s tethering toolbar lets you change camera settings like shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and white balance. You can also apply Lightroom presets as you shoot. Click the shutter button in Lightroom to take a photo, then edit it right away in the Develop module. Tethered photography is a great way to get the perfect shot.

tethered photography

Best Poses

Fashion photography is all about capturing the perfect shot of a model to show off the latest trends. While many elements go into taking a great photo, the model’s poses are essential. Here are some of the best model fashion poses to use in your next shoot.

If you’re working with a beginner model, they may feel uncomfortable. It’s your job to make them feel at ease. Give them simple poses instead of complex high-fashion poses.

Facing the camera is a straightforward pose that makes the model’s beauty and facial expressions the center of attention. Leaning against a wall is a casual pose that doesn’t take much effort. Having the model reach out toward the camera can add a sense of depth. If you’d like to learn more about fashion poses, we have a detailed guide that covers the topic in depth.

fashion poses


Composition is key in fashion photography. The rule of thirds is a popular technique that involves dividing the frame into a 3×3 grid and placing the subject on one of the intersecting points. This creates a balanced composition.

Sometimes, breaking the rules can work too. Placing the subject in the center of the frame can be effective, especially if you use elements like flowers or the model’s hair and arms to add balance.

Props and interacting with the environment can also enhance your composition. Most importantly, always prioritize showcasing the outfit by avoiding obstructions and creating movement to let the fabric flow. By adapting these fashion photography composition techniques, you’ll take your images to the next level.

fashion photography

Some Important Fashion Photography Niches for You to Try

Fashion photography covers a very wide range of styles. We’ve looked in some more detail at several of the fashion photography niches, to help you navigate your way through them.


Artistic Fashion Photography

There are some ways to make your fashion photography more artistic. These include shooting from uncommon perspectives like high or low angles to show your subject in a new way. Or you can step away from classic poses and let your model interact with the environment. Use vintage film lenses with an adapter to add unusual effects like soft focus or unique bokeh patterns.

Prisms create kaleidoscopic effects and soft focus when you shoot through them. Color gels enhance the mood by adding splashes of color to your images. Try a long exposure to capture beautiful motion blur in the model’s clothes or body.

Combine multiple exposures in-camera or in post for an artistic effect. Use selective coloring to make the model’s outfit pop. And don’t forget about the classic and nostalgic look of artistic fashion photography in black and white.

artistic fashion photography

Black and White

Black and white portrait photography is a timeless art form that can create striking and emotive images. By removing color, the focus is placed on the subject’s expressions, movements, and textures. To achieve the best results, careful planning of camera settings, lighting, location, and posing is essential.

When editing black and white portraits, experimenting with filters, curves, and clarity tools can help to enhance the image. The Green filter in Photoshop or adjusting the Orange and Red sliders in Lightroom’s Tone Curve can improve skin tones and add contrast. Adding subtle grain or dust textures can also create a beautiful film-like effect.

Mastering black and white portrait photography requires practice, communication with your subject, and an eye for striking elements like textures and negative space. By embracing the unique challenges and opportunities of this genre, you can create powerful and timeless images. To dive deeper into the world of black and white portrait photography, explore our comprehensive guide.

black and white portrait photography

Runway Fashion

Runway photography is an exciting way to capture the latest fashion trends. To get started, attend small, local fashion shows at universities or colleges. These events are more casual, giving you the freedom to move around and talk to models and designers.

Before attending, research the event’s camera rules. Some shows only allow certain types of cameras, while others prohibit them entirely. If you can bring a camera, choose a lens with a good zoom range and a wide maximum aperture for low-light shooting.

When photographing models, focus on their eyes and use a shallow depth of field to blur the background. Don’t forget to capture details of the outfits and accessories to highlight the atmosphere of the show. Move around to shoot from multiple angles for a variety of images. With practice and persistence, you can build a strong portfolio and eventually earn a coveted media pass to photograph alongside professionals in the pit. To learn more about runway photography, we have an in-depth guide that covers everything you need to know.

runway photography


To shoot professional editorial fashion photography, start with a clear idea to keep your photos consistent. Gather a creative team to make your photoshoot as professional as possible. Find 1-2 locations that bring your idea to life without distracting from the models.

Use mood boards to inspire yourself and your team. Give detailed instructions throughout the photoshoot to ensure every part complements your vision. Experiment with different angles and poses to keep your photography exciting.

As you experiment, don’t be afraid to break general photography rules to develop your individual style. Once you submit your photos to fashion magazines, avoid sharing them until they get published. To learn more about editorial fashion photography, check out this in-depth guide.

editorial fashion photography

High Fashion

High fashion photography captures the essence of luxury and glamour. It often features supermodels and celebrities wearing designer clothing in elegant or conceptual settings. Top brands hire famous photographers to create premium quality images for their advertisements, which are usually seen in magazines like Vogue.

To learn more about the different types of high fashion photography, check out our in-depth article. It covers various styles such as editorial, beauty, catalog, and street fashion photography. Each type has its own unique approach to showcasing clothing, accessories, and models.

high fashion photography

The Lookbook

A fashion lookbook is a great way to showcase clothing in a lifestyle setting. To create one on a budget, start by browsing examples online for inspiration. Pay attention to the model poses, backdrop, and overall vibe of each lookbook.

Next, ask friends to model for you or use websites like Model Mayhem to find beginners willing to trade their service for photos. Gather props and accessories to complement the clothing you’re featuring, but keep things simple to avoid distracting from the main product.

When choosing a backdrop, look for locations that match the style of the clothes. Shoot during golden hour for the most pleasing natural light, or use bright artificial light sources at night. Keep poses simple and casual, with the model interacting with their environment. Try different looks by styling the same garment in various ways. With these tips, you’ll be able to create a lookbook photography on a budget.

lookbook photography

Low Key Black and White

Low key black and white photography creates moody, atmospheric images. It’s often used for portraits and fine art nudes. The key is controlling the light to produce deep shadows and minimal tones.

Position your subject and a single main light source carefully. The angle of the light reveals more or less detail. Squint to see how the highlights and shadows will look without a wide tonal range.

Expose for the brightest parts of the composition. In post-processing, darken shadows and adjust contrast to achieve the low key effect. Low key black and white photography is an illusion our eyes never see naturally, so get creative and have fun with this dramatic style.

low key black and white photography

High Key Portraits

To create high key portraits in the style of Platon, you’ll need a couple of flash guns, light stands, and a small umbrella. Position the main light above and in front of the subject for a butterfly lighting effect, creating shadows under the nose and chin.

Use flags on either side of the subject to control the light and deepen shadows on the cheeks. Place the subject away from the background and light it separately for a pure white look.

When editing, crop tightly on the subject and convert to black and white. Whiten the background, even out the brightness, and boost contrast. Dodge and sharpen the eyes for a striking final portrait. We have more tips on platon photography in our in-depth guide.

platon photography

Vintage Cool

Vintage photography has a distinct, nostalgic character. To replicate this style with modern equipment, study the limitations of old film cameras. They produced soft images with low contrast and lots of grain.

Choose a theme for your vintage photoshoot to keep the style consistent. Stick to classic compositions with clear vertical and horizontal lines. Pose your subjects in a rigid, static way or capture candid, spontaneous moments.

Imperfections like light leaks and dust on the lens add authenticity to vintage photos. Use a soft, matte look with lower contrast. Black and white or vintage photography with a sepia tone are great choices. Complete the look with vintage clothing, props, and locations.

vintage photography

Smartphone Fashion Photography

There are times when you don’t need anything more than your smartphone. After all, they now have some amazing cameras in them! To make the shoot go well, you need to follow some guidelines. Develop a theme and create a mood board to plan your shoot. Find an excellent location that fits your concept, whether it’s a public space or private property. Make your phone more ergonomic with a pop-up holder or tripod for added stability.

Prioritize good lighting, shooting early morning or late afternoon for the best results. Mind your composition, using the rule of thirds to frame your subject. Use AE/AF lock to ensure sharp focus on your model’s face or other key elements.

Communicate with your model, giving clear directions on poses and expressions. Experiment with different angles like low, high, and Dutch tilt for more engaging shots. Try portrait mode to blur the background and make your subject stand out. Have fun with detachable lenses like wide-angle and fisheye for creative effects. Use props sparingly to emphasize the clothes without overpowering them. Edit your photos with apps like VSCO or Adobe Photoshop Express to perfect the final look.

With these tips, you can take your fashion photography with a smartphone to the next level and create impressive images that showcase your unique style.

fashion photography with a smartphone

How to Find Models for Your Fashion Shoot

The internet has helped to make finding models easier, and has made the process safer for models as well. There are specialist sites, or there are Facebook groups available for finding models. In your early days, you might want to opt for a TFP (Trade for Print) arrangement. This is where photographer, model, and (if used) make-up artist work for free, to help build up their portfolios.

Free Models

Finding models to work with is essential for aspiring portrait and fashion photographers. One option is to photograph amateur or inexperienced models. They may not be the best, but they’re free and can help you practice your skills.

You can also photograph friends or friends of friends. Carry business cards to look professional when approaching potential models. Self-portraits using a tripod and timer or remote are another option if you’re struggling to find people.

Aspiring actors and dancers always need headshots and can be great to work with. Use model release forms to protect yourself legally. Searching for models on websites like Model Mayhem or joining TFP/TFCD groups on Facebook are also good options. When contacting potential models, be professional and offer ideas for the shoot. To learn more about finding models, check out our in-depth guide.

find models

Model Mayhem

Model Mayhem is a popular website for finding models and other talent for photo shoots. It has a large pool of people to choose from, including models, photographers, makeup artists, and more. Most of its features are free to use.

To find the right model, use the Browse section to narrow down your search. You can filter by location, compensation, experience, and even physical characteristics. Be sure to read reviews and look for Verified Credits to avoid scams.

When communicating with potential models, provide details about the shoot and your portfolio. Discuss compensation upfront, whether it’s paid or trade for photos. If a model doesn’t show up, try confirming with them multiple times beforehand. For serious photographers, a paid subscription offers more features like unlimited messages and a larger portfolio. To learn more about model mayhem, check out our in-depth guide.

model mayhem

TFP Models

TFP modeling is a great way to build your photography portfolio without investing money. You collaborate with models to create amazing images that enhance everyone’s portfolios. It’s the perfect solution when you don’t have paying clients yet.

Working on a TFP basis helps you find models, collaborate on a vision, and do the photo shoot. This process makes you better prepared for working with paying clients. TFP projects also help you grow your photography network by connecting you with models, make-up artists, hair stylists, and wardrobe stylists.

Treat TFP shoots like professional ones. Present yourself professionally with a website and work samples. Be respectful when communicating with potential models. Have a clear vision for the project, but stay open to collaborating on ideas. Screen models to find the best fit for your project. Deliver final high-resolution photos to everyone involved by the agreed deadline. To learn more about working with TFP models, check out this in-depth guide.

tfp model


However good your photography skills are, you will need to edit your images. Even more so if you shoot in RAW (and you should!). You will want to develop your own style and ‘look’, but there are some great tips out there. You can also find plenty of presets to download for Lightroom to make the process quicker.



Retouching is an important part of commercial fashion photography. Most photographers use Capture One Pro or Lightroom and Photoshop to edit their images.

Start by choosing a color profile in Lightroom before making any other adjustments. Then correct the white balance and make basic edits to the highlights, shadows, whites and blacks. Use the vibrance slider instead of saturation to avoid an unnatural look.

In Photoshop, clean up the image by removing dust, blemishes and imperfections. The healing brush and clone stamp tools are great for this. Dodge and burn to improve highlights and shadows, but keep the opacity low to avoid a fake look.

Developing your own workflow takes time, but these tips will help you improve your commercial fashion photography retouching skills.

commercial fashion photography

Fashion Photography Inspiration

There is no problem finding fashion photography inspiration, in terms of quantity. But maybe it’s harder to be sure what are the best examples. Not to worry, we have put together some photographers and images to get you started.


Famous Fashion Photographers

Fashion photography captures the beauty of clothes, people, and locations. Here are 21 famous fashion photographers who have taken the industry by storm.

These photographers have unique styles, from Julia Hetta’s Rembrandt-like portraits to Elizaveta Porodina’s vibrant, science fiction-inspired shots. They work with top brands like Vogue, Dior, and Calvin Klein, photographing celebrities and models.

Their photos range from elegant and empowering to dreamy and surreal. Through their lenses, we see fashion in new, creative ways.

To learn more about these influential fashion photographers, check out their portfolios and be inspired by their unique visions.

fashion photographers

Street Fashion Photographers

Street fashion photographers capture the latest trends on the streets. They’re always on the lookout for the next big thing in fashion. Here are ten of the coolest street fashion photographers to follow in 2024.

These photographers have unique styles and approaches. Some focus on high-end fashion, while others capture more urban and eclectic looks. Many of them travel the world to document different fashion scenes.

Following these photographers is a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest street style trends. To learn more about the world of street fashion photographers, check out this in-depth article.

street fashion photographers

Inspirational Images

Fashion photography is a fun and challenging genre that requires creativity and inspiration. Richard Avedon’s iconic photos remind us to have fun with fashion photography, while simple black and white photos can catch attention with their sculptural quality. Experimenting with unusual poses, outdoor elements, and mirrors can add a surrealistic feel to your images.

Incorporating graphics, film edges, and complementary backgrounds can create quirky and compelling photos. Shadows and natural light can add dimension and depth to your images, while bold colors and limited color palettes can grab attention. Showing behind-the-scenes setups and experimenting with pictorialist styles can add interest and variety to your fashion photography portfolio.

Whether you’re shooting in a studio or on location, candid or staged, fashion photography offers endless opportunities for creativity and expression. For more fashion photography ideas and inspiration, explore the work of renowned photographers like Helmut Newton, Nick Knight, and Ellen Von Unwerth.

fashion photography