Fashion Photography

Fashion Photography: The Complete Guide

In Portrait Photography by Stefano Caioni Leave a Comment

With a growing number of digital fashion magazines and online clothing brands, fashion photography is in high demand. Are you a photographer looking to prove yourself and jump into the world of fashion photography?

This article if for you.

Fashion photography is incredibly diverse and popular and it can be overwhelming for beginners. Photographing professional models outdoors or in-studio, working with famous fashion brands or magazines, and being recognized in this industry can be a highly rewarding endeavor. Being a good portrait photographer doesn’t automatically translate into being a good fashion photographer and fashion photography is not only about photographing models and clothes. There’s much more to it.

Fashion Photography

Whether you want to become a professional fashion photographer or you want to have fun taking some photos of your friends in this article you’ll find useful insights to have a better understanding of this photography genre.

Fashion Photography Definition

As this article from the New York Times says, fashion photography is never just about clothes. Fashion photography is a genre of photography that due to the growing marketing demand from fashion brands and magazines it has become an industry on its own.

Fashion Photography

From a beginner perspective, this photography genre is just about capturing clothes, shoes and accessories. But it’s better to start seeing it for what it is since the first approach.

Fashion photography is an ever changing photography style that require you, the photographer, to understand and evolve with fashion trends, learn from the great masters and have a great eye for details.

Fashion photography plays a vital role in the success of most of the world’s biggest fashion houses and magazines. The work of a fashion photographer varies from images to be printed on billboards, images of men and women in clothing catalogs, on magazines or online, to even television advertisements.

It can be a really lucrative career choice and an high level of skills and professionalism are required if you want to become a fashion photographer and work with high paying clients.

Related: The Best Tips for Portrait Photography

Fashion Photography Equipment

As with other genres of photography, your gear is very important. So choose carefully and look at your next camera or lens as an investment.

Cameras for Fashion Photography

When buying a camera for fashion photography make sure you choose a camera with a great sensor. The bigger the sensor, the better the quality of photographs in low light. Hence, larger sensors are preferable for fashion photography, since high-resolution images are crucial. Full-frame cameras are ideal since they offer better sharpness and color accuracy thanks to an extended dynamic range.

Preview
Best for Beginners
Canon EOS Rebel T7i US 24.2 Digital SLR Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Black (1894C002)
Best Mirrorless
Sony a9 II Mirrorless Camera: 24.2MP Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Continuous AF/AE, 4K Video and Built-in Connectivity - Sony Alpha ILCE9M2/B Body - Black
Best DSLR
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body
Camera
Canon EOS Rebel T7i
Sony α7R IV
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
In-body Image Stabilization
Sensor Size and Resolution
APS-C 24.2 Megapixels
Full-Frame 61 Megapixels
Full-Frame 30.4 Megapixel
Mirrorless or DSLR
DSLR
Mirrorless
DSLR
Continuous Shooting Speed
6 Frames per second
10 Frames per second
7 Frames per second
ISO Range
100 - 25,600 ISO
100 - 32,000
100 - 32,000
Video
1080p
4K
4K
Viewfinder
Optical
Electronic
Optical
Best for Beginners
Preview
Canon EOS Rebel T7i US 24.2 Digital SLR Camera with 3-Inch LCD, Black (1894C002)
Camera
Canon EOS Rebel T7i
In-body Image Stabilization
Sensor Size and Resolution
APS-C 24.2 Megapixels
Mirrorless or DSLR
DSLR
Continuous Shooting Speed
6 Frames per second
ISO Range
100 - 25,600 ISO
Video
1080p
Viewfinder
Optical
More Details
Best Mirrorless
Preview
Sony a9 II Mirrorless Camera: 24.2MP Full Frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Continuous AF/AE, 4K Video and Built-in Connectivity - Sony Alpha ILCE9M2/B Body - Black
Camera
Sony α7R IV
In-body Image Stabilization
Sensor Size and Resolution
Full-Frame 61 Megapixels
Mirrorless or DSLR
Mirrorless
Continuous Shooting Speed
10 Frames per second
ISO Range
100 - 32,000
Video
4K
Viewfinder
Electronic
More Details
Best DSLR
Preview
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body
Camera
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
In-body Image Stabilization
Sensor Size and Resolution
Full-Frame 30.4 Megapixel
Mirrorless or DSLR
DSLR
Continuous Shooting Speed
7 Frames per second
ISO Range
100 - 32,000
Video
4K
Viewfinder
Optical
More Details
Fashion Photography

Best Lenses

Lens Availability: As a fashion photographer, you will be shooting in a wide variety of scenarios. This means that you will need to use various lenses based on the purpose. Having a camera that has a wide range of lenses available means that you have wider choices of lenses.

Focal length: 35mm lens is perfect for fashion photography. This is primarily because of the great working distance that it offers. You can use it for shots inside a studio, as well as outdoors.

Zoom or Prime: The next point to consider is if you must use a prime or a zoom lens. The answer to this isn’t simple. Zoom lenses are versatile but typically aren’t the sharpest. Prime lenses offer superior quality but have very specific uses and force you to move closer to the subject. Having both lenses in your arsenal would be ideal in fashion photography.

Preview
Sony SEL2470GM E-Mount Camera Lens: FE 24-70 mm F2.8 G Master Full Frame Standard Zoom Lens
Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens, Black (0573C002)
Best for Beginners
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Lens
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master
Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
Focal Length
24-70mm
16–35mm
50mm
Max Aperture
F2.8
f/2.8
f/1.8
For Full Frame or APS-C
Full-Frame
Full-Frame
APS-C
Filter Thread Size
82 millimeters
82 millimeters
49 millimeters
Camera Mount
E-Mount
Canon EF
Canon EF
Preview
Sony SEL2470GM E-Mount Camera Lens: FE 24-70 mm F2.8 G Master Full Frame Standard Zoom Lens
Lens
Sony FE 24-70mm f/2.8 G Master
Focal Length
24-70mm
Max Aperture
F2.8
For Full Frame or APS-C
Full-Frame
Filter Thread Size
82 millimeters
Camera Mount
E-Mount
More Details
Preview
Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens, Black (0573C002)
Lens
Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L III
Focal Length
16–35mm
Max Aperture
f/2.8
For Full Frame or APS-C
Full-Frame
Filter Thread Size
82 millimeters
Camera Mount
Canon EF
More Details
Best for Beginners
Preview
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8
Focal Length
50mm
Max Aperture
f/1.8
For Full Frame or APS-C
APS-C
Filter Thread Size
49 millimeters
Camera Mount
Canon EF
More Details

Related: 50 Beautiful Portraits to get you Inspired

How to Capture Amazing Fashion Photography

Great equipment is never the only ingredient in photography. In fact, fashion photography is no different, there’s much more to it than simply being good with a camera.

Similar to portrait photography it exposes you to new people and emotions. Being able not only to capture the beauty of clothes and models but to tell a story through your photos is the secret to get amazing photographs.

For instance, as Canon Ambassador Jaroslav Monchak, says in this article on Canon Europe a good way to learn how to shoot fashion photography is to start with close-ups of your models and then gradually put more distance between you and the subject and introduce more and more details with no need to hurry up. Shoot as many photos as you can and make sure the model gets comfortable and starts posing naturally.

Best Lighting

Lighting is pretty much everything in fashion photography. It’s all about manipulating light and it takes preparation and practice to master this skill. In certain situations, you might need artificial lights, while other times, you need to be able to use natural light.

Fashion Photography

If you are just starting, take advantage of natural light as much as you can. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on lighting equipment. a white reflector will be enough. Choose your location carefully and shoot early in the morning or in the late hours of the afternoon to avoid harsh lights and weird contrasts and shadows on your models.

If you shoot indoor fashion photography, and you are on a budget, again, don’t spend money on flashes and strobes. Just shoot near a large window, to take advantage of the filtered light coming through. Shooting against a white backdrop will make your subject stand-out. If you don’t have an empty wall, use a wide aperture, and get the background out of focus to make the model stand-out.

Once you’ve practiced enough, and you are ready to invest some money you can use artificial lighting units. Making use of artificial lights will give you some extra flexibility to shoot whenever and wherever you need in your space without worrying about positioning your model near a window.

You can use one or two lights but make sure you position them at a 30 or 45-degree angle in relation to your subject. This will give you optimal results. When using artificial lights, try to make it look as natural as possible. Experiment with different light settings and avoid mixing natural daylight with artificial light sources.

If you keep practicing, over time, you’ll become a master of how you can use light to get better results in fashion photography.

Camera Settings for Fashion Photography

There are no fixed camera settings that work for all types of fashion photography. There are, however, a few pointers that are sure to help significantly.

girl portrait

Always Shoot in RAW

Always shoot in RAW mode. this gives you much more flexibility while post-processing. Shooting in RAW you can manipulate in post-production things like the white balance, color contrasts, and much more as if you were still taking the photo on the field. Shooting in JPEG instead is only suggested when you don’t need to post-process your images. So if you work for a client always use RAW.

Choose the Right White Balance

Set the white balance correctly depending on the location of your shoot. Having the right white balance will save you a lot of effort while editing your photos. If you’re a beginner, trust your camera auto white balance. It will give you good enough results if you choose the right preset. When you are ready to step-up your game, make use of a gray card to set a custom white balance.

Camera focus

As it’s obvious you should focus on the model. Depending on the type of detail you want to highlight, you will use a 35mm or 50mm to focus on the entire body if you’re giving importance to the clothing, or you’ll use an 85mm and focus on part of the model if detailing a particular accessory.

I almost never recommend using full manual focus. Single AF on modern cameras does an excellent job at focusing on a steady subject.

Single Shots or Burst Mode

Alternate between the two. Use single shots if the scene is perfectly planned and staged, but if you want your model to move and give you a spontaneous pose, you can use burst more to capture details of the clothing and of the model’s personality that you might miss with a single shot. Reframing and moving closer or further away from the subject are incredibly important aspects to improve your photography. If you shoot bursts and you shoot in RAW, you can quickly take up a lot of space in your memory cards.

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Creative Fashion Photography Images

If you need inspiration and ideas for your fashion photography take a look at these brilliant photos from various artists and if you want, you can get even more ideas by checking out these creative images on Pinterest.

Getting inspired by professional artists, doesn’t necessarily mean emulating or copying them. But training your eye to understand how they used the light, how they composed a shot and why they did it, should be your goal.

Images from: Mario Testino Fashion Photographer

The Peruvian fashion photographer Mario Testino has been featured internationally by multiple important magazines such as Vogue and Vanity Fair to mention a few.

From high fashion to iconic portraits from people around the world, Testino is one of the most widely recognized artists in the field. He has contributed to the success of many important fashion brands thanks to his photographs.

You can see more of his work on his website and Instagram:

Images From: Giampaolo Sgura Fashion Photographer

Famous Italian fashion photographer Giampaolo Sgura works with magazines of the caliber of Vogue, Allure and GQ.

His portfolio includes stunning portraits of celebrities and he’s one of the best examples of someone who created a career starting from a little kid in small country town in Italy, to become one of the most demanded fashion photographers in the world.

Different Types of Fashion Photography

There are various types of fashion photography, let’s go through the main ones and let’s try to describe their main characteristics.

Editorial Fashion Photography This style of photography is what is usually featured in magazines and posters. Stories and articles are combined with visual content and are published together.

Portrait of Model accessory glasses

Street Fashion Photography: This is a more casual and laid back style. It usually shows the type of clothes that most people wear, and highlights how casual wear can make a fashion statement.

Catalog Photography: This type of photography is primarily sued by print media companies. Usually, the shoots are done inside a studio or similar locations. The backgrounds are grey or white to highlight the clothing very clearly.

High Fashion Photography: Some of the biggest fashion labels make use of high fashion photography. It is characterized by celebrity models, over-the-top styling, and avant-garde clothing. The main goal here is to showcase creativity of the designer.

Conclusion

With this quick guide on fashion photography, you too can begin to build a portfolio in this lucrative domain!

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