Do you have an "eye" for fashion and feel you can convey that with your shutter-snapping skills? Then fashion photography may be for you.

What Is Fashion Photography?


Fashion photography is actually an art form in which a skilled photographer creatively composes images of people displaying articles of clothing, footwear and accessories. The finished images may be used in promotional materials, catalogs, magazines or other media to create interest in a specific designer or to promote sales of their pieces.

Fashion photographers not only shoot the photos, but also edit the images in post-production. Their images can be formally situated portraits or interesting candids emphasized by special lighting or exotic location settings. Fashion photographers can work in a studio, either one they own or one that is rented, or on location — whatever is best suited to get the desired result. They may also photograph clothing and models at fashion shows.

Fashion photography may mean the traditional sense of the term, as in working for a magazine. It can also mean, however, working independently for advertisers, galleries, models, celebrities and designers.

To get into fashion photography, one must have the "eye" for the remarkable, carefully planned composition of their photographs, be able to use lighting to enhance the model or product and create a certain purpose that shines through the images. The photographer needs to have the technical skills, as well as the artistic sense to help convey what the client wants.

Statistics of Fashion Photography

According to, most fashion photographers working today have fewer than 10 years of experience. Only 16 percent have been working for 10-19 years, and only one percent have been working for more than 20 years. The median wage for a fashion photographer in 2018 is around $41,000. Four out of five fashion photographers rated their jobs as highly satisfying.

Duties of Fashion Photographers

Although this is not a comprehensive list, here are some common daily duties of a fashion photographer:

  • Set up and take down photography equipment
  • Take photos of models or products
  • Edit photos
  • Instruct models during shoot
  • Collaborate with clients to achieve goals of the shoot
  • Work in studio and on location

Different Types of Fashion Photography

Fashion photography can be for catalogs, editorials or high fashion. Catalog work photos showcase the product (i.e. clothing, footwear, jewelry, accessories, etc.) The product is shown simply and clearly so that buyers can see if they want to purchase it. Editorial fashion photography shows a model in an environment and focuses on conveying a certain lifestyle. High-fashion photography is a big production which focuses on over-the-top imagery and clothing.

How to Get Into Fashion Photography


So, you think you want to become a fashion photographer? Here are some ways to pursue a career in fashion photography.

Pursue Education and Experience

Those in fashion photography do not have to have a certain education or degree. Instead, they can gain on-the-job experience. Some experts recommend apprenticing with a photographer to learn the ropes. However, many people can gain knowledge of the fashion photography field by pursuing a degree, whether that is at a trade (technical) school or a college.

A bachelor's degree in photography allows you to study history, lighting, fine arts and digital photography. It also allows you to train and make connections within the industry. Also, the benefit of studying toward a photography degree is that you gain invaluable expertise and become proficient in complicated digital photography editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop. You may also work toward obtaining a master's degree in fashion photography.

Choose Your Equipment


First and foremost, your camera is the main tool you will need in the fashion photography trade. In addition, a photographer uses lenses, sensors, monopods, tripods and battery packs. Photographers must know how different lenses create different effects. They also must know how to use different techniques, like the single shot function or burst shots to capture their model or merchandise.

Lighting equipment is crucial. Fashion photographers can create artificial light with battery-operated, handheld lights or powerful strobes. Of course, if they are outside, they must know how to use natural light to create the desired effect. They may use light reflectors, a piece of material which directs light toward the model. Light reflectors are inexpensive and easy to transport.

Establish a Portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of a fashion photographer's best images. It should contain a variety of images, including portraits and still shots. The purpose is to showcase his or her style and skill. And, it can make or break you.

Photographers build their portfolios as they gain experience. It is a visual resume, and the client can review the works displayed for a better idea of the photographer's quality and sense of style.

A portfolio may be physical in a book, it may be online, or it may be in both formats. Some experts recommend having a physical portfolio in addition to having one online. That way, if you meet with a potential client, you have something that showcases your work. If your images are similar to what types of photographs the client wants, then it may help you prove you are qualified to handle the work.

Put Yourself Out There

Capturing sunset

Contact photo editors of magazines, who are the people you need to show your work to in order to get hired. Know the photo editor's name and what type of photos the magazine specializes in, so that you can effectively market yourself. You are selling your skills through your portfolio, so be sure to continually update it to feature your best work. If you are an unknown photographer, it is possible that a magazine will pay only for your expenses, not your time.

To give you a leg up on the competition, contact the magazine and ask for the name of the person to whom submissions should be directed. Mark your submissions clearly with your contact information. Never submit originals. Include an envelope with postage with your submission if you would like your work returned.

Also, don't be afraid to market yourself on social media. If you are having trouble finding work, then think outside the box. Work as a wedding or corporate photographer to gain experience.

Go to Work

Fashion photographers must book photo shoots to continue to gain experience and showcase their talents. Booking photo shoots involve many moving parts. A photo shoot may involve arranging for travel to the location of the shoot, reserving a space for the shoot to take place, and working with the client to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Those who pursue fashion photography must be willing to work in a variety of environments both indoors and outdoors. In the end, the photographer works for the client and must make sure that the clients' expectations are met. Those in fashion photography may hire an assistant to help them manage the day-to-day operations of their business.

Fashion photographers may choose to set up a studio in their home. They may also choose to rent a space. Of course, fashion photographers must also be mobile when going on location for a shoot. They must be prepared to bring all their equipment with them.

Know the Business

Many fashion photographers are self-employed. Therefore, they must handle a multitude of aspects of their business. They may deal with clients, schedule shoots, market themselves and manage the financial side of their business. They handle calls, e-mails and meetings with clients and network with those in the industry.

Photographers must protect the copyrights on their photography, so they must also have knowledge of copyright law. When you are first establishing yourself in the business, some experts recommend recruiting the help of family, friends or fashion students who can assist you. They can help be a part of your team when you do not have the budget to hire help.

In addition, you must be able to communicate effectively with the model you are photographing so you can get the poses you want. Be confident, self-assured, and encouraging while working with models. A photography contract protects the rights of both the fashion photographer and the model. It sets forth the rules for the use of the images captured. Models sign a release in order for images bearing their likenesses to be sold.

Hire an Agent

If you do not want to market yourself to photo editors, you can hire a photo agent to do so on your behalf. Reasons to hire an agent include being new to the business and you don't have networking contacts or because you are simply too busy to manage the process of marketing on your own.

The job of a photo agent is to be in constant contact with publications and potential clients. Agents promote their clients and can find new markets for the existing photos of a fashion photographer. That is why it is essential to choose an agent who aligns with your own aspirations.

Consider a Gallery

Although selling art is unlikely to make you a lot of money, it is a way to gain attention to your work. New York City has a very strong art photo market, though most large cities boast at least one art gallery. Contact the gallery to find out when they accept submissions and if recommendations are required before they will consider your work. You should track which photos you submit to them and ask if they permit relationships with other galleries outside their own.

Even if you are invited to join a gallery, you may not have your own show. Some galleries keep an inventory of photographs to show to buyers upon request. Get as much as you can in writing so you know what to expect for a commission if your images sell.


With hard work, quality images and a unique style, you can be successful in the fashion photography business. Learn to persevere and solve problems when the going gets tough. Strive to improve as you gain experience. And take chances to prove yourself.

Last update on 2021-10-15 at 21:13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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