How to Take Great Fashion Photos

June 29, 2010 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | 14 Comments |
How to Take Great Fashion Photos Image

Fashion photography is a highly visible, exhilarating and creative line of work. It’s also extremely competitive. To succeed, you must breathe, sleep and live photography, and constantly focus on improvement. In this article, I will cover the unique mix of imagination, professionalism, technical skills and leadership abilities that a fashion photographer must employ.

Photography Fundamentals

You need a strong imagination to create compelling images that arrest the viewer’s attention. However, you can’t bring your ideas to life without a working knowledge of basic photography skills. Study lighting and composition, and explore how various camera settings affect your images. Keep practicing until you master these concepts.

Less is more. Throwing together too many visual elements can overwhelm an audience and obscure your message.  A simple image can contain multiple layers of meaning while expressing a clear and coherent theme. Produce uncomplicated photos using solid fundamentals before adding more complexity to your work.

A fashion photographer should stay up to date on the latest clothing trends. When new pieces make their debut, ask yourself how you would photograph them. Consider the technical aspects of potential shots, but also explore your creativity by thinking of unique ways to bring the subject to life.  

How to Take Great Fashion Photos

Plan Your Shoot and Prepare for the Unexpected

Develop a specific theme for your shoot and keep it firmly in mind throughout the day. Although clients will often provide specific guidelines, you’ll have a lot of flexibility in the execution. Plan which shots will help you accomplish your goal, and arrange an itinerary of poses, angles and props before you begin. Although preparation is crucial, spontaneity often produces the best work, so allow yourself the freedom to be creative on the fly.

Planning extends beyond the shoot, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Anticipate possible setbacks and then avoid them or create a backup plan. When devising a timetable for the shoot, give yourself enough wiggle room to compensate for the inevitable delays. Make sure you have everyone’s contact information, and keep replacements ready in case of last minute cancellations. Print hard copies of any crucial documents. Bring spare equipment and keep technical support on standby in case anything malfunctions.

Collaborate for Best Results

Fashion photography pools the talents of many people. A designer creates the clothes, and a model brings them to life. Make up artists, hair stylists, technicians and many others contribute to the final product of a fashion shoot – your image.

A fashion photographer does more than just snap photos – you channel the team’s efforts into a unified concept. Clearly communicate your objectives and then help everyone achieve those goals. Make sure they accomplish their work on schedule and stay true to your theme. Be friendly but firm. Ultimately, you control the shoot and are responsible for the outcome, so don’t hesitate to take charge and give direction.

At the same time, encourage team members to offer insight and add their unique flavor to the project. If you clearly express your creative vision, they will know how to contribute their talents. Above all, keep things fun; people perform better if they are comfortable and enjoying themselves. Leave some playtime and see what happens. We give birth to the images together.

How to Take Great Fashion Photos

Maximize Image Quality

I shoot in both RAW and JPEG-small formats. RAW allows me to blow the images up to billboard size if needed, and JPEG-small is better suited for Web images. RAW delivers enhanced picture quality and greater freedom and flexibility during post-production. It offers broader color palette selections, a variety of exposure adjustments that help evoke a desired mood or emotion, and the ability to greatly increase image size for larger format viewing and printing.

RAW images occupy a lot of space, so select a card with enough capacity to store an entire day’s worth of shooting. Using one card lets you avoid having to interrupt the flow of shooting or keep track of multiple sets of photos. A reliable card with 8-16GB of capacity is fine.

I like the energy that results from motion. I direct movement when posing my shots because it makes the models look more natural and creates interesting effects on the clothes. I shoot in short bursts of about six images at a time to ensure that my camera doesn’t miss a sudden ripple of the fabric or a slight change in the model’s facial expression.

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Your Comments

14 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Jay are

Sorry but this blog sucked
most obvious information ever

2:04 pm - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

#2 Sebastian

@Jay

It’s easier to crticise than create.

8:33 pm - Tuesday, June 29, 2010

#3 ipad case

this actually helps , i’m no photographer but always interested in taking pictures everywhere i go. this helps a LOT, Thanks for sharing !

2:34 am - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#4 John H. Maw

I think that the first poster has a point. For example the advice on recording RAW and Jpeg in camera. If you are shooting RAW then you must be using a RAW converter. Most, if not all, will produce multiple files from one RAW file, so you can get full size TIFF files in 8 and/or 16 bit and small Jpegs (and large Jpegs if you want). You might want the TIFFs in Adobe RGB and the Jpegs in sRGB.

The advantages are that the colour and other adjustments will all be exactly the same, you will have better highlight detail and sharpness and it is also easier to change the numbering to suit your own filing system. Using small Jpegs straight out of the camera results in lower quality and is only recommended if you don’t have time to process them before sending them off. This is a real “last resort” approach as the camera is resizing the file and will not do it nearly as well as it can be done in software later. He makes the point that RAW files take up more space on the card, so why add the unnecessary Jpeg files?

Having said that, it is always nice to read how someone else approaches a particular type of job and I am sure he is a fine photographer.

8:52 am - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#5 sandra

BEWARE!!!


IF YOU USE SANDISK SD CARD AND MEMORY PRODUCTS, YOU WILL LIKELY loose ALL DATA IN YOUR MEMORY CARD AFTER A WHILE.
CUZ SANDISK MEMORIES HAVE A TENDENCY TO DROP DEAD ALL OF A SUDDEN AFTER A WHILE.

I EXPERIENCED IT TWICE , LOST ALL MY DATA.

:(

10:35 am - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#6 Bill

I think I’d rather shoot myself in the head before I took up women’s high fashion photography!

5:55 pm - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#7 TARIK BIN AZIZ

If you shoot yourself head, i dont think you can take picture after that. consider that.

6:57 pm - Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#8 Sean Patrick Leydon

@Sebastian

Agreed.

12:34 am - Thursday, July 1, 2010

#9 Giovanni

I think any article or event that reminds us that solid fundementals are the basis of executing talent serves a good purpose

6:45 pm - Thursday, July 15, 2010

#10 lui

I had 2 PNY SD card and I broke them pretty easily, I had a Sandisk, Adata and Transcend and were all good

1:58 pm - Sunday, January 23, 2011

#11 CPI

wow! excellent fashion photography! you’ve done really nice job :)

7:42 am - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

#12 Natasha

Hey Guys! just thought that this information might help all the photographers out here. Get 10% discount on any Canon camera you buy from http://bit.ly/nZFkiV. It’s worth a look!

7:27 pm - Monday, October 3, 2011

#13 Andrew Knowles Photography

I think your post was somewhat general but not useless. I think fashion photography is about creating a mood, and glam feeling with your images. I like making angles happen with their arms and legs while posing, and also add movement into the images. (A hair flip or taking off her sunglasses)

5:36 pm - Tuesday, December 6, 2011

#14 photographer in dubai

Amazing captures!There’s always a story behind every capture the photographer makes!I love how he got that"candidness"in every photo.Awesome pictures, great location & photography!

7:06 am - Wednesday, November 14, 2012