Fashion photography is focused on branding: models, location, props and other aspects of the shoot take on great significance.
The goal is to create something unique that will arrest the eye and stick in the viewer’s mind, creating an identity that becomes attached to your product and, subsequently, your brand.
To put it another way, fashion is the cover of a magazine or website. Product images are what’s inside.
Fashion photography plays a significant role in global fashion culture and its industry and is commanding an increasing share of public consciousness.
Our memory of fashion is really through fashion photography and its publishing, rather than fashion itself.
Importance Of Fashion Photography
Over the last few decades, fashion images have engaged with new technology and proved politically and aesthetically provocative, economically sound, and ideologically powerful.
But besides the massive amount of printed and online media on fashion photography circulating throughout our world, critical accounts of fashion photography are a lot harder to find.
Photographic commentary has yet to contract with fashion photography in a much more sustained way.
Its perception of purpose and history hasn’t helped it gain status yet within cultural studies.
Most often closely linked to its ties with commerce, its flirtation with the trivial and frivolous, and its temporary character, fashion imagery still generally gets stuck in a narrow range of importance in cultural and visual contexts.
Let’s look at fashion photography in a more nuanced way.
We should maybe ask the seemingly obvious yet impossible to answer how we define the genre of fashion photography and which responsibilities it can take on.
It would be wrong to examine fashion photography only through the eyes of advertisement or prettiness.
It would overlook its ability to be a possible form of (self-) -expression, commentary on the world at large and reflect time.
Our everyday lives are oversaturated with fashion images, magazines and blogs.
The amount of fashion editorial production and publishing seems to now almost equal that of daily newspapers.
Huge traffic and massive output leading to an overall opinion of fashion as mass media without any importance to add to the so-called real world?
It hasn’t gotten any easier to check the quality and reputation of fashion photography as a severe form of possible expression and mirror of our culture.
On top of that, a fashion photograph and its importance are dependent on a whole network of influences.
As Margaret Maynard argued in her essay The Fashion Photograph: an ecology, a fashion image is less a result of individual minds than a product of a variety of variables surrounding its production, publishing and consumerism.
Maynard’s approach suggests that fashion photography and its relevance are best understood not in terms of the photographer as an author or the fixed formal rules that constitute an established genre.
It is much more a set of shifting practices without consistent traditions or short histories that can form and showcase its relevance.
In June 1945, the US version of Vogue magazine published a war photography series called Believe It, taken by the surrealist turned fashion photographer turned war correspondent Lee Miller* (the British version of Vogue had to publish different images of her war photographs due to reasons of propaganda).
Miller’s coverage clearly of a documentary nature composed with the unique insight of an official war correspondent propelled Vogue into uncharted territory, far beyond its normal remit.
As Anthony Penrose, Miller’s son commented on this publishing decision decades later: Vogue’s printing of Lee’s material represented an achievement in fashion publishing that has never been repeated.
Willingly or not, American Vogue certainly respected Miller’s wish to picture victims and torturers. However, by running her war photographs next to its fashion content, it made them seem decontextualized.
Yet, in a discussion on the relevance of fashion photography, we should focus on Vogue’s role as a fashion publisher in this example.
On the one hand, the printing of Miller’s images and the juxtaposition of two seemingly strangely contrasting genres has raised ethical questions and the issue of trivializing history.
On the other hand, a juxtaposed photo-reportage like this might be necessary, if not crucial, for a universal understanding of what is going on in the world at a given time.
Don’t we need a view of the world at large that always includes both the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly, the horror and the loving to understand it?
If it matters, it matters. In the end, isn’t it every magazine’s job to take on the responsibility of its time – in fashion and beyond?
Miller and Vogue’s visual war coverage also clearly shows the idea that we should create and be constantly willing to re-envision and define the boundaries within which we work and live – and to adopt a certain fearlessness in our own lives and therefore our images and magazines.
Essential Parts of Fashion Photography
First, you need an idea to build your shoot around.
You can have the best equipment, most beautiful models, and the most talented photographer, but you won’t have moving images without a central, unifying concept.
It would help if you communicate your brand. Come up with something you’re excited about, and great images will follow.
Are you an outdoor apparel brand? A shoot on location in a remote corner of the globe may be what you need.
Are you a modern, urban apparel brand? You may want to try something avant-garde.
Your concept should be something you can articulate in a single sentence or less, like Marc Jacobs’ “the art of style” or prAna’s “free to roam.”
You don’t need to build textual messaging into your final image, but you probably won’t be able to convey it visually if you can’t say it.
Your location should flow from your concept. Many fashion shoots take place in a simple studio with a plain black or white backdrop.
That metaphorical and literal blank canvas allows you to build your concept through styling and posing.
If you’re going to shoot on location, pick somewhere distinctive.
An unfamiliar place is fun and visually stimulating, while familiar locations have positive connotations that make them effective messengers. Either can work, depending on your end goal.
You don’t have to fly halfway around the world –– though if that’s in your budget, more power to you.
Are you a modern, bohemian brand? Maybe there’s an old farmhouse outside of town that would fit your aesthetic.
Are you a surf brand? Maybe there’s a coastal cliff that has excellent sunset viewing. Are you a lifestyle brand? Maybe there’s a local restaurant in a repurposed building with unique decor.
Whatever location you choose, be sure to scout it before the shoot. Visit it on your own and visualize where you will put the model, how you’ll light it and pick your shots.
This lets you plan without pressure and will help you stay focused during the shoot, saving you time and money while generating more pictures.
Your lighting setup will depend on your concept and location.
If you’re going for a glamour shoot in a studio, you will probably want a beauty dish with a grid attached to a strobe as your leading light and one to three strobes for rim lighting.
Position the leading light on an axis with the camera so that it’s facing the model. Put the strobe lights behind the model facing into the camera.
You may want the strobes to be visible for ambience; if so, arrange them to be aesthetically pleasing.
Casting a model is an important step.
Don’t simply select the person you find the most attractive; select a model who matches your brand and concept. If you’re an active apparel company, you want an athletic model.
If you’re selling swimwear, you probably want someone tan. Much like when shooting apparel product photos with a model, make sure the model you cast will look good in your clothes and the poses you have in mind.
Pay attention to your model’s personality when casting and shooting. Don’t push them to be someone they’re not, especially if they’re inexperienced. If you want a shoot with lots of smiling and laughter, look for a bright and cheerful person. If you want a dark and moody atmosphere, look for a more withdrawn model.
Models are expensive. If you’re looking to save money by using an inexperienced model, help them maintain a positive attitude.
Encourage them throughout the shoot. Give them positive instructions and tell them what to do, rather than negative “don’t” instructions.
Keeping your model’s confidence high will lead to more natural shots.
This one may seem pretty obvious, but think it through. Construct a complete outfit that you want representing your brand, and that fits the concept.
If you’re sending someone outdoors up a hillside, you probably don’t want them in high heels, no matter how good it looks with the rest of your clothes.
Prepare your product: repair any defects, clean it, steam it, whatever is necessary to have it at its best. Style it so that it fits the model perfectly.
If shooting in a studio, you will probably want settings appropriate to portraiture.
A telephoto lens will flatten facial features to ensure they don’t appear disproportionate to the rest of the body, which should reflect positively on the subject.
Set your camera to the lowest possible aperture to capture the most light.
If you’re shooting movement in a studio, like hair flipping, you will want a low ISO, moderate aperture, and relatively fast shutter speed. For example, ISO 100, f/16, and 1/250th.
You can create new perspectives by changing the position of the camera or the model. Shooting from a low angle will make a model seem tall and long-legged.
Shooting from above can make a model seem smaller.
Once you’ve captured your planned shots, have fun trying different things. Experiment with new and original angles.
Shooting from somewhere with a dramatically different perspective, like up a ladder, may create an intriguing angle the viewer has never seen before.
Create a high volume of shots, and you may find an unexpected gem.
Fashion Photography Objectives
Among all the branches of photography, fashion photography is categorized as transient because this has changed a considerable number of changes ever since it came into existence.
The fashion trend is temporary, and it keeps on evolving and changing, so this fashion photography.
Therefore, every aspirant should have this basic idea about fashion photography.
However, despite all the constant changes of style, fashion photography is one of the most sought-after careers among all the branches of photography. It’s a career in the glamour world and has a more fantastic opportunity to be around gorgeous models, fashion directors, makeup artists all the time. Thus, it is considered an entertaining area for photography.
Fashion photography has its own rule and style. You should have a stellar eye for beauty to create a classic image. It’s not like other photographers, like capturing an image of nature and wildlife.
To help out young aspirants who have just stepped into the world of fashion photography, we have gathered some helpful fashion photography tips.
Firstly, as a fashion photographer, you should have objected to bringing out the best in the model ready to take your photoshoot.
So what are the essential objectives? Well, here it goes- the main aim of fashion photography is to display a fashion trend, brand or product through the editorial image.
It would help if you created a perfect angle to show off the clothes and other fashion accessories and the perfect mood and personality of the model.
You are doing a photoshoot to bring out the desired character of the model, which is asked by the director or editorial head.
Hence, try to create something that can grab audiences’ attention and gain an appreciation for both the photograph and the posed model because the pictures you are capturing are to be published for audiences themselves.
Secondly, plan appropriately for the photoshoot.
Fashion photography does not only involve a gorgeous model, and it comes with an outfit, props, lighting and a perfect location. So, planning and organizing things properly can get you the exact desired photograph for editorial purposes.
It’s an art of creativity, so try to visualize things incredibly and uniquely, like poses, location, background setting, and lighting.
Whether you are shooting in a studio or an exotic outdoor location, always choose a site based on the concept of the photograph.
For inspiration, you can always look at famous fashion magazines like Vogue and of course the internet.
Thirdly, be very friendly and interact with models in a very down to earth manner. It’s important to keep models at ease to bring out the best expression and pose from them.
Or else the photoshoot would be incomplete, even with a fabulous outfit but without the correct word.
Thus, make sure the models understand what you are intended to bring out from them for the perfect photoshoot.
To make your shoot exceptional, draw inspiration from photography legends whose works are liked by most people.
Role of a Fashion Photographer
Contrary to popular belief, being a professional fashion photographer is more than just snapping photos while yelling, “Yas, darling! Strike a pose!”
While the role may seem glamorous, the glamour doesn’t come without a lot of hard work, a specific skill set, and innovative creativity.
To be a good fashion photographer, one has to wear many hats and be responsible for the entire creative process from idea conception to editing.
Many fashion brands and retailers are only interested in fashion photographers who can take control of the whole photography production process, not just have the ability to take a decent picture.
A Fashion Photographer Must Create a Vision
One of the main goals of any successful photographer is to create and capture an unforgettable image.
To do this, many different facets come into play at various stages of production.
One is the most artistic part of the process: creating a vision. To do this, there are a couple of things that come into play.
Stay True to a Brand While Reaching a Broad Audience
As a fashion photographer, when creating a concept or vision, understanding the fashion brand or retailers that they’re shooting for is critical.
Brands have their image that the photographer must be consistent with when creating his/her image.
Fashion brands and retailers often look for photographers who shoot in a similar style to their brand identity but can bring their ideas to the next level.
Connect Fashion to Culture
Fashion is one of society’s most significant driving forces, and vice versa is true as well. The two work together and play off of one another.
Fashion both influences culture and is influenced by culture. It is the photographer’s duty, then, to make this connection.
Draw from cultural surroundings and connect them to the clothing. Photographers have to consider what is going on in the world, what is popular, what people care about, and try to connect that to apparel.
New York retail agencies are always looking for talented individuals who know how to be relevant to their fashion choices.
Capture Old Trends in New and Interesting Light
While trends are a tremendously important part of the fashion industry, photographers must know when to use a trend, modify a trend, or when a trend is plain old overdone.
For example, stripes are a classic trend that will probably never entirely disappear from the fashion scene but will merely evolve.
If given striped clothing, what will the photographer do to make it seem new, edgy, and innovative?
What creative angles can the photographer use to portray a traditional striped garment in an entirely new light?
Revel in having realized your concept. It takes a lot of time and talent to bring an idea to life. If any picture is worth a thousand words, then a well-executed fashion photo is worth a thousand pictures.