Learning the ropes of a fashion photoshoot may feel daunting, but fashion photographers all started somewhere. Whether it’s figuring out the difference between light modifiers, researching fashion terminology, or making friends with models, there are a few key points to keep in mind.
Put Together a Portfolio
Especially for beginners without an established reputation, a fashion photography portfolio is crucial. While maintaining only a website cuts down on costs, many fashion professionals still want to see a book. It’s a smart idea to have both available. For the book, good quality 8 x 10 prints with a few tear-sheets (pages torn from a magazine in which you were published) should suffice.
Do Your Research
Research entails both the academic and aesthetic. On the one hand, it’s important to learn the history of fashion, which includes everything from fashion terminologies to different periods and eras. On the other hand, it’s also necessary to read contemporary fashion or photography magazines to understand different designers, icons, and trends. Learn which magazines prefer what, too. It’s much easier to create a portfolio for a specific editor when you understand what he or she tends to publish.
Learn Your Light Modifiers
Fashion photography utilizes light modifiers, and it’s in your interest to practice with as many as possible. To start, the beauty dish is a quintessential beauty accessory. By attaching it to a light source, this shallow parabolic disk delivers light softer than a regular flash but harder light than a softbox. The semi-hard light is great for sculpting features. A softbox does what it sounds like: diffuses for a pleasing, soft light. It reduces harsh shadows, and mimics window light.
Meanwhile, a giant parabolic umbrella works wonders for full-length fashion and commercial photography because it provides so much light. It keeps colors consistent throughout the whole image, unlike smaller modifiers that force tonal shifts in lower portions of the frame. For versatility, the octabank is a solid choice. It’s sturdier than an extra-large umbrella, and provides more exact light control – almost like a combination of umbrella, softbox, and beauty dish. Since the shape is rounded, it creates a natural catch light in the model’s eyes.
Respect Your Models
Male or female, please please don’t touch the models without permission – even if it’s totally innocent! Treat them with the same respect you would a coworker. It’s important to give positive feedback, too (and limit the negative). You don’t want to crush the model’s confidence.
Build a Creative Team
Fashion photography is more collaborative than some other genres. You need a makeup artist, hairstylist, and – obviously – a wardrobe stylist. You can also use a prop stylist, creative director, and retoucher. When you’re just starting out, paying professionals might not be in the cards. However, this is a great opportunity to utilize other beginners. Like you, lots of creatives need an opportunity to hone their skills. Put out a call to your friends and their communities for talent.
“Anything is art if you do it at the level of an art,” says American photographer Richard Avedon, and this is particularly true of fashion photography! A picture of a model in a dress is just another picture of a model in a dress without your vision. So while it’s useful to keep these tips in mind, remember that honing your eye is the most important skill of all.