Does fashion photography make you dream about exotic locations, huge paychecks and a life full of beautiful models?
It’s time to learn how to tell fantasies from reality. Being a fashion photographer is hard work, which often leaves you so washed out that you can’t think about all the advantages.
Becoming a fashion photographer requires a lot of patience, experience, stamina, and time. If you think you have what it takes to master the profession, you take advantage of a few tips.
The world of fashion photography is fast-paced. It focuses on portraiture, posing, extensive lighting, beautiful locations and clothing.
This genre is evolving and changing as many photographers find their aesthetic style.
In most situations, the same rules apply to fashion photography composition, just like any other photographic genre.
However, emphasizing the subject is one thing. Showcasing what they’re wearing at the same time may require some severe composition skills.
Tips To Become Fashion Photographer
Develop Your Concept And Don’t Give Up
Before coming to a photoshoot, a professional fashion photographer must have a concept in mind.
Reading books on hair and makeup, browsing the photoshoots of your colleagues and watching your favourite movies. Whatever you need to do to get inspired, do it.
A fashion photoshoot is a group effort. Even though having professional and diligent partners (stylists, makeup artists, etc.) is essential, you can’t relinquish the idea to them.
Allow them to make suggestions and be ready to follow. But never give up on your concept.
Always Experiment With Lights
The light can make or break your photoshoot. You already know how different your photos can look with various lighting. Don’t hesitate to take the time to change the lights, mix them, remove them and so on.
Sometimes, a photoshoot result doesn’t depend on the location, hairstyle, clothes or the model’s professionalism. All these pale in comparison to the proper lighting. It can either save a failing photoshoot or sink an excellent session. Play around with the light.
Find A Perfect Team
As a beginner in the fashion photoshoot world, you may need to work with different teams. However, with time, you’ll understand that your team is priceless. By choosing the people who help you work, instead of wishing they wouldn’t impose their opinions, you can enhance the output.
A coordinated team doesn’t just help you improve your work at each given photoshoot; it helps you build your brand and get more clients.
Start At The Studio
Studio shoots are the simplest since they are built to help you play around with the lighting. If you are a beginner, don’t agree to underwater or horse-riding in the snow shoots. No matter how talented you are, anything out of the studio is bound to be botched.
Allow yourself to gain some experience in the most comfortable conditions. Before starting a shoot, make sure you explore the studio and find the best places for the models. Experiment with lights before the photoshoot starts, not during it.
Break The Rules
All famous fashion photographers break the rules. All amateurs try to do the same, and most fail. Why? Because breaking the rules is a tough job, which needs many preparations. Coming up with something new and fresh is a step toward recognition. However, such measures often fail.
As an aspiring fashion photographer, you should be ready for failure. Perhaps you’d need to live through a dozen failed sessions to create a masterpiece finally. Always be prepared to experiment and look for something special. Many photographers learn by shooting their friends before moving on to models.
No, not yourself. Ask the model to portray different emotions. Playing around with these emotions can help you get truly amazing pictures. Remember, it all depends on the model you are working with. Some look perfect when smiling only. Others can be more pliable.
You’ll have very little time to understand what model you are working with. So start by asking her or him to show you the emotions. This can help you understand how to use the model to maintain your concept.
A smiling model, who is looking straight at the camera, is outdated. Try to catch a moment when the model is doing something ordinary like tossing her hair or tying her shoes. More often than not, such shots turn into masterpieces. You can use them as inspiration for your next shoots.
Filter Or No Filter?
Back in the day, a filter, like UV, was an essential element of any photoshoot, these days, cameras are so advanced that you do not need to use a filter anymore. In fact, most photographers agree that putting an additional filter in front of your expensive lens is another element that separates your subject from your sensor or film. Or when shooting garments, there is a risk of ruining the actual texture when you use filters.
However, there are certain photography industries and genres that would require you to put the filter on. For instance, many photographers mention that polarizers are crucial to keeping the reflections away when doing product photography. Moreover, plenty of ‘action’ photographers as well as sports fashion photographers have to use some filter simply for protection sake. So be careful when using filters and make sure that you really do need them.
Elements That Make Your Image Worth
This is one of the most important things to learn. In fact, don’t just prepare, over-prepare, never walk on to a set without having a concrete idea of what you’re looking to achieve. Have books, and books of tear sheets of images of lighting, makeup, hair, styling, posing, editing, etc. It’s very easy to become burnt out as a photographer, but if you have these books of inspiring images to glance through, You can guarantee something will catch your eye, and a concept or story will begin to develop.
It’s Your Concept
Working in fashion, there is obviously a team of hairstylists, makeup artists, and stylists you’ll work with; however, Photographers are always open to suggestions and ideas and love to see what others can bring to the table, but never hand over the reins. You cannot let someone else take over your vision. If you do, it will read in your images. You need a very smooth execution of your story in order for your audience to grasp it, so be sure to take control of it.
Move And Move Some More.
Experiment from every possible angle when shooting. Shoot and move, shoot and move. You can’t wait for the shot to come to you. You have to go find it.
Be A Director
There are some models that don’t need a lot of direction, and we like to be inspired by what they bring to the set. However, don’t lose sight of direction. Again, you can’t wait for the shot to come to you. You have to create it.
Never Stop Shooting
Shoot whenever, and where ever. The second you stop shooting is the second your “photographic brain” starts slowly disappearing and getting lazy. You start losing your creative energy and second-guessing yourself; then you begin to think maybe you’re not good enough, etc. If you keep on shooting, you don’t have the chance to fall into that hole. Once you’re there, it’s hard to dig yourself out! Shoot, shoot, shoot!
You have to believe in yourself and your work. The best way to learn is to completely throw yourself into it. You can’t be afraid to screw up. The reality of the situation is that inevitably, you will screw up, but it’s ok; it’s actually wonderful because it’s how you learn.
Composition Tips for Better Fashion Photography
Learn The Rule Of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a crucial guideline in making sure your composition is on point. So how do you apply it? First, mentally divide your frame into nine squares of equal sizes–much like a tic-tac-toe grid. To achieve a balanced composition, put your subject in any of the points where the lines intersect.
You can also use your camera for help. Almost every camera nowadays has a grid-line function to assist you in composing your shots. Once you activate it on your device, simply move your camera until your subject is in one of the intersections on the screen.
The rule of thirds is useful, especially if you’re not sure where to place your model. As long as you stick to it, your composition will improve significantly. After a while, you won’t even need to turn on the gridlines in your camera, and it’ll be instinctual.
Place Your Subject In The Center
Every once in a while, you can break photography composition rules to get the shot you want. Sometimes, you can even ignore the rule of thirds completely and put your subject right in the centre. If you do it correctly, you’ll realize that this style works perfectly for fashion portraits.
Since your main point of interest is already in the middle, the viewer will see it immediately. However, just remember that placing your subject in the centre can sometimes make the image look static and uninteresting. Therefore, you need to keep in mind a few tips to make this unusual composition work.
The primary factor to consider is the background. Look for a location that has something you can use to balance your composition. For instance, the photo below uses the flowers surrounding the model to frame her. The triangle formed by her hair and arms also adds balance to the image.
Next, you’ll need to think of appropriate poses to prevent your photo from looking too rigid. Ask your model to move around, flip their hair, or swing their arms outwards. Look for ways to make them look graceful. Additionally, you can have the model lean slightly to the side to make them look less stiff. Asking them to look either left or right would make people think something is going on off-camera.
Consequently, all the negative space around your subject is now providing curiosity to the viewer.
Create A Counterbalance
As you can tell by now, the secret to composition is achieving balance. However, sometimes you’re forced to place your subjects in unusual places. If this happens, you can use a counterbalance to correct your composition. Counterbalance involves using another component in the frame to create harmony in your image.
If the woman sitting on the cart below was by herself, the composition would look lopsided because she’s in the centre. Adding another model to push her from behind leads to balance.
Reflection adds visual interest to what would otherwise be dead space. The double image also creates symmetry. Creative monotone portrait of a female photography model posing outdoors on a beach – fashion photography composition
Tell A Story
One of the mistakes that budding fashion photographers often make is not including a visual narrative in their shoot. When you browse through a fashion magazine, you’ll notice that there’s a theme that connects the photos.
Although they don’t necessarily have words describing what’s happening, they often provide clues about what’s going on. These types of images grab attention. They force the viewer to focus on the narrative they’re trying to tell.
Including a cohesive concept in your pictures will compel people to look at every image you show them. Your theme doesn’t necessarily have to have a real story with a beginning and an end. Since you can’t rely on captions, you need to rely on your composition and focus on the small moments.
For instance, when you’re shooting a model exploring the city, you can have them walk around the streets or visit a cafe. Use the elements in the surroundings to provide hints.
For instance, placing someone close to the camera with the road in the background will make your viewer curious about where the subject is going. When you frame your scene, remember that sometimes leaving out specific components in the photograph encourages imagination.
Look For The Appropriate Background
Always be mindful of the background while shooting because it plays an essential role in your composition. Don’t just think about where to place the model. Consider how the elements in the background would affect the balance of your image. Your composition style should adapt to the garment you’re photographing. You can’t use a background that’s similar to the colour or the pattern of the clothes.
If an outfit has complicated patterns, then look for a background that’s neutral. If it’s plain, feel free to look for an elaborate backdrop that compliments it.
Your backdrop should also lead the viewer’s eyes to the subject. People naturally follow lines and curves.
If a background (or foreground) has those features, you can use them to direct attention to your model. Thankfully, you’ll find plenty of them in urban environments such as streets, rails, and staircases. Similarly, you can use squares and rectangles to frame your model. When you put your subject in a “box,” people will naturally be drawn to it.
Choose The Right Lens.
Generally speaking, longer focal lengths result in a more flattering image for portraiture. However, space constructions might make using a longer focal length difficult, especially when you also need to show off outfits.
The best practice here is to shoot on the longest focal length your space allows for, but be prepared to move to a wider angle if necessary. Be sure to have a variety of lenses available. While zooms are versatile and quick, you’ll get better bokeh if you shoot with primes, so keep this in mind when assembling your kit.
Work With A Team
While you certainly can successfully shoot fashion portraits with just a model, the entire process is much smoother with a team, giving you better results. Having a stylist or makeup artist to prep the model and do touch-ups throughout the day helps keep looks consistent over a long period of time.
And having an assistant or two to manage light positions and help with gear keeps you focused on getting the shot. Hiring a team isn’t always viable, but if you can afford the investment, it will pay off. If you’re just getting into fashion photography, performing these services for a more experienced photographer is also a good way to soak up some knowledge.
Work The Scene
This is true for any photography, but it’s especially beneficial in fashion work. Don’t stop shooting when you think you’ve got the shot — keep going, and you may be surprised to learn there was a better shot waiting.
In the era of digital, there’s little reason to be conservative with shooting (except that it means more culling during the editing process). Don’t underestimate this fashion photography tip — shooting after you think you got your shot is essential for doing good work.
Give Credit To Your Talent.
You’ve taken some killer shots and are ready to share them on social media. It’s always good to promote your work, but don’t forget that your fashion shoot was a team effort. If nothing else, you at least had a model.
When you’re sharing your work, it’s important to be sure to credit everyone involved in the process. Not only does this help promote your talented partners, but it also shows that you value their contribution to the project. Photographers who are notorious for not crediting their models often find, unsurprisingly, that models stop working with them.
Break The Rules
This fashion photography tip may seem contradictory, but it’s important to know when to break the rules. There are plenty of rules when it comes to poses and lighting, and it’s important to know all of them and be able to get expected shots.
However, when you start to break those rules, you might find your creativity pays off. Get your safe shots, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Unless you’re just really crunched for time, there’s no reason not to try new setups or techniques.
There’s so much room for creativity in fashion photography. It’s not quite like anything else. And in the era of Instagram, there’s arguably a bigger interest in fashion right now than in any other point in history.
Likewise, the popularity of fashion on the internet has democratized the scene. Striking fashion photography doesn’t only happen in high-end studios, and it isn’t just seen within the pages of Vogue — if it’s something you’re interested in, it’s something you can do. Go out there and give it your best shot, and don’t forget us when you make it big.
You can easily apply many of the skills you already know as a photographer when you start shooting fashion. However, you also might miss a few things if you don’t change your approach according to the needs of the genre.
Learn to adapt to the situation, and keep in mind that the outfit is always the star of the show. As long as you remember these fashion photography tips every time you shoot, you’ll see your images look better and better every time.