11 Ways to Completely Revamp Your Fashion Photography Skills

11 Ways to Completely Revamp Your Fashion Photography Skills

Written By : Marissa Fey

Maintaining a competitive edge over other Fashion Photographers is vital to grabbing your audience’s attention and keeping them for the long haul. Remember it’s called the long haul for a reason; it takes time to achieve the look that celebrity and professional fashion photographers have created through their photographs. Be sure to read below for my 11 tips on how to completely revamp your fashion photography skills to grab the attention of editors, clients, and your friends!

1. Plan. Plan. Plan. This may be one of the most important steps to taking great photographs. Before, after, and even during the shoot you need to have a plan set in place to make the whole process run smoothly. Trust me, we’ve all been there with long days on set, unexpected roadblocks, and faulty equipment. Rushing to think of ideas on set is the last thing you’ll want to deal with. So plan. Plan. And plan!

2. Remember the fashion in fashion photography I realized early on in my career that the passion I have for photographing has to be equal to the passion I have for fashion. It sounds silly, but too many fashion photographers forget that in the end, it’s about creating photographic concepts to showcase the clothing. The editor isn’t going to pick all those beautiful close-up portraits of the model if she/he really wanted to showcase the new designer pants.
3. Who are you? Every photographer has their own look. Are you into a super-feminine fashion or a more edgy and grunge-y look? Do you like clean, soft light or harsh flash-style lighting? Write it down! This will be a fantastic reference for you and a great way to pitch your photographic style to your clients.

4. Lighting. This one is actually most important. But let’s assume you’ve grasped a general sense of good lighting. Most pro fashion photographers have their own set lighting that they never drastically change. For example, Bruce Weber typically shoots his fashion portraits using one light with an attached softbox and reflector. And we now we all remember his photographs for their consistency (and beauty!). Before you go off getting clients, take the time to figure out what lighting set works best for you. In the case of the studio fashion photographer have your signature style ready, but make yourself familiar with all types of lighting in case that profoto you always use isn’t in the studio that day.

5. Fashion Editor’s eye Do you ever wonder why your favorite photograph didn’t get chosen? It’s probably because you didn’t pay close enough attention to the clothing. Editors see everything. Make sure the clothing is fully steamed. I can’t tell you how many times a photograph didn’t get chosen because the outfit just didn’t look right to the editor. Pay attention to detail and keep it clean!

6. Learn from the Pro’s As a fun exercise, create and style your own no-pressure photoshoot. Research your favorite editorial from your favorite magazine. Think about the clothing style, the lighting style, the mood, the model, composition, ect. In the learning process it is okay to recreate your favorite shoot to get a feel for how you might want your photographs to be lit or styled. In the end it’s important to take what you’ve learned and go out there and make it your own!
7. Design Being a fashion photographer you have to know a bit about fashion too. Don’t just show up with some clothes to set, or pray the stylist you found on Instagram is going to be just as great in studio. Do some research, meet in person, and find killer designer threads to elevate your photographs to the next level. There are a ton of talent that needs low budget look-books done. Time to impress!

8. Casting/Agencies Today, models can be everything and anything! We love it that way. Casting is important because hiring a model is different than having your gorgeous best friend show up for a shoot. Both could work, but in most cases you need to make sure all the work you put into the shoot doesn’t get lost in the modeling just because you were too nervous or lazy to find a model. Find the model that would fit well with your concept. Most agencies are looking for new photographers to photograph their models (for free!) all the time. Don’t be afraid to reach out and build a relationship with them! It will only benefit you in the long run to get feedback from agents who see fashion photographs everyday.

9. Directing. What does a Victoria’s Secret Ad, Bruce Weber photograph, and Gucci Campaign all have in common? They all convey emotional confidence. A great fashion photograph commands attention. Make sure you set the tone with your models for the shoot by giving them a clear and concise mood you need from them. Allow your models to portray the confidence they feel with what they are wearing, and your audience will feel it too!

10. Retouching While retouching is important, don’t rely on a retoucher. The reason your photographs may not be moving to the next level could be due to the lack of attention to detail, lack of photographic style, or lighting composition. Retouchers are great! But only after you’ve perfected your photographs in camera.

11. Keep it consistently your own So now you have all the skills to take your fashion photography to the next level! Now that you’ve found a style you love, keep going with it! Even if you’re shooting different concepts try to keep a similar lighting and style consistent while concepts change. Eventually, you’ll be remembered for it!

Just remember what fashion photography is all about and why you started in the first place. It takes a lot of hard work, experimentation, and rejection to take your fashion photography to the next level. But remember, in the end, if your having fun, it’ll show up in your photographs, and your clients will love you for that fun-loving positive attitude! Goodluck!

Banner Image Credit photographer Thomas Louvagny