Before you shoot the cover for Vogue, you’ll need to learn the basics. Get started with these simple fashion photography tips for aspiring fashion photographers.
7 Essential Fashion Photography Tips
1. Get to Know the Lingo
Fashion photography is about selling the lifestyle to sell the fashion. Glamour photography is about selling the model (think sexy model on a car to sell a cheeseburger).
Within fashion photography there are three main subcategories: catalog, editorial, and high-fashion.
- Catalog is about accurately capturing the items to present them for sale — images you’d see in a catalog or on a product webpage.
- Editorial photography has more lifestyle elements added and styling (of the model, the environment, and the fashion itself) is crucial.
- High-fashion photography is the most avant-garde and often the most expensive. Many high-fashion shoots have fantastical elements and may feel more like a movie set than a photo shoot.
2. Shoot in RAW Format. Always
Yes, RAW images take more space and more time to process but they also have much more data and play in post-production. Shooting in RAW allows you (by far) the most flexibility in the photo editing process, and there’s really no other way to shoot if you want to set yourself up for success.
3. Be Prepared to Be the Director
On a movie set, the person behind the camera is usually following the directions (or supporting the vision of) the director. On a fashion photo shoot, the photographer is often also the director. If you’re expected to fill that roll, you’ll need to consider everything from location to lighting, posing, and post-production as you set up your shoot.
All of these elements help you to tell a story through your images, so it’s important to know what the client is trying to achieve so you can formulate a cohesive plan to support it.
4. Check Your White Balance, Early & Often
Fashion photography is about fashion, so taking the time to white balance is crucial to ensuring you get images that accurately represent the items you’re shooting.
If your lighting changes, check your white balance. Changing the setting? Check your white balance. You can correct a lot in post-production, but the more you set yourself up for success upfront, the better.
5. Set Your Model Up for Success
Give the model a clear vision of what you’re trying to achieve so they can help you. You can shoot in single shots or bursts, but try to avoid killing the energy on your set by squinting at your monitor between every frame you shoot. For many models, especially inexperienced ones, poses that look good on camera will feel unnatural.
If your composition isn’t quite right, have them try making small adjustments, one at a time. If their mouth is closed, try opening it just slightly to reduce tension in the jaw. Try pushing the chin forward and down slightly, lifting (or rolling back) one shoulder, looking in a slightly different direction, and so on.
6. Don’t Be Afraid of Motion
Sometimes the best photos come out of a candid or resetting moment because the model isn’t feeling so tense. If you’re ready to try some “action” shots, set your camera up for burst mode and have some fun.
Great action shots can include something as simple as walking toward (or past) the camera, jumping, turning the head to get movement from the hair, and more. Before a model starts jumping, make sure they’re wearing shoes they’re comfortable and safe in (remember, they might have put those shoes on for the first time just a few minutes ago).
7. Don’t Lose Track of the Fashion
It’s easy to get caught up in making the model’s eyes pop, but if the image is supposed to sell the handbag they’re carrying, you might be doing yourself a disservice. Identify early where the focus of the image should be and make sure everything (the background, framing, model, lighting, and so on) all drive the viewer’s focus to the item you’re meant to be showcasing.