Fashion photography is one of the most vast and innovative forms of photography. Since it combines the idea of fine art with commerce, each fashion photographer is unique with their style and vision. While some fashion work can be described as couture, lifestyle or street – the options are endless for your work within this photographic niche. Even though every fashion photographer has their own desired method of shooting, these are a few key tips for every photographer to remember when working within the realm of fashion.
1. Use Various Methods of Framing
Fashion photography is a culmination of portraits and full-length imagery. The key detail to remember is that a good fashion photographer is always experimenting with framing and composition. The idea is to grab the attention of the viewer and highlight the article of clothing, jewelry or accessory you are photographing on your model. You will want to utilize framing such as the up-close portrait approach along with a three-quarter crop and a full body length image. The reason we aim to frame our subject in different ways is due to the idea that fashion is not only about the clothing, but about the story, the mood and the art of the creation. As a fashion photographer, you need to focus on capturing a set of images that when placed together has a integrative, cohesive rhythm and flow.
2. Direct Your Subject with Posing and Movement
When photographing a model for your fashion project, you will need to know how to direct your subject. It is best to have an idea of poses that fit into the style of the shoot. You can aid the model in facial expressions, use of hands, adjusting posture and overall stance. Additionally, integrating the use of movement is essential in photographing clothing. Whether you have your model play with the fabric, physically move their body by stepping, jumping or leaning – you will add a dimensional element to the pieces. Depending on the project, your model may have a variety of poses that give off a certain mood to the audience such as strong, stoic, defeated, elated and so forth. It is important to utilize these tools, but to always ensure that the posing and movement aligns with the overall theme and purpose of your shoot.
3. Pay Attention to Details
An important aspect to remember when photographing fashion is to pay attention to the details which includes fixing pieces or elements that may go awry while shooting. This can be adjusting the hair of the model, cleaning up makeup, wiping away sweat from their face and adjusting pieces of clothing that are wrinkled or unorganized – the smallest details are vital in fashion photographs. This is especially crucial if you are shooting a piece that will be featured in a magazine or for a campaign. Yes, you can make adjustments to hair, skin and clothing in Photoshop, but there are some elements that need to be fixed on the spot while shooting. If you pay attention to the details and have a team that is fixing elements while you shoot – your images will exude a clean and professional look.
4. Don’t be Afraid to Experiment
The best part of fashion photography is the creativity within the niche. You are encouraged as a fashion photographer to create your own style and personal vision in order to distinguish yourself within the photographic community. It is advised to test and try new techniques often when you first start in fashion photography. If you prefer studio setups, play with various types of lighting. If you shoot outdoors or on location, be creative with how you compose your subject within the background. Add visual elements, use props and choose the clothing that aligns with what you hope to create. The most successful fashion photographers are often those whose style is immediately recognizable, so be sure to start developing and building your own with every project you photograph.
Fashion photography has grown over the years to encompass a wide variation of photographic styles and personal visions. If you are a photographer that shoots studio, lifestyle or street style fashion – these tips will help you in creating work that is specialized and unique to you. It is necessary to remember that the infusion of fashion and photography is a constantly evolving spectrum. In today’s photography world, not all fashion work is focused on high, couture, but rather encompasses a wide range of commercial, vintage and one of a kind brands.
5. 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.
6. 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 in lightroom process, and there’s really no other way to shoot if you want to set yourself up for success.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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).
11. 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.
Have you ever considered becoming a fashion photographer or do you already shoot fashion and have some of your own tips to share? Let us know your outlook on the world of fashion photography below.
More Fashion Photography Tips and Advice
There are 10 amazing fashion photography courses you can take online.
Topics include; Fashion and Glamour, Editorial Fashion, Posing and Lighting, and Commercial Fashion Photography.
Fashion Photography Lighting For Beginners
Ultimate Fashion Photography Masterclass: Your 2018 Guide
Editorial Fashion Photography (with No Budget or Team)
Fashion and Glamour Photography
Fashion Photography 101
Fashion Photography Posing and Lighting
Commercial Fashion Photography
DIY Fashion and Editorial Photography
Business of Fashion Photography
Film and Digital Formats for Creative Fashion Photography