Do you want to become a fashion photographer at a young age? If YES, here are 13 simple steps to becoming a fashion photographer for a magazine like Vogue.

There are a lot of ways to enter into the fashion industry without one necessarily being a model or a fashion designer. If you really love the world of dainty gowns, couture, class and fast paced life, then maybe you should become a fashion photographer.

What are the Duties of a Fashion Photographer?

Fashion photographers are responsible for photographing fashion shoots and editing the resultant images in order to produce images that are fit enough for publication or for other uses.

Despite the fact that fashion photographers are for the most part not the directors of photo shoots, their wide range of abilities including an eye for outline and lighting, and in addition, an understanding of the vibe and motivation behind the subsequent photos make them a vital element of fashion photography.

What are the Benefits of Being a Fashion Photographer?

For most people, the biggest attraction towards becoming a fashion photographer is having to shoot in different locations around the world and the exotic lifestyle that comes with it. For an established photographer, the income is also quite substantial because of the talent required to produce an excellent quality picture.

Fashion photographers also have the benefit of working with a wide array of people such as supermodels, shoot directors, makeup artists, magazine editors, fashion designers, advertising firms, wardrobe specialists, lighting technicians etc., even as the job enjoys a lot of variety because each shoot is almost always very different from the next, that is why you have to be highly creative to succeed as a fashion photographer.

What Does It Take to Become a Fashion Photographer?

Fashion photography is a highly exclusive and competitive industry. Getting in requires dedication, commitment, hard work, and often times, a lot of good luck. It may sound like an unreachable dream job now, but a lot of people have become quite influential in the industry having started from the bottom ladder. If you want to start a career and become successful as a fashion photographer, here are what you must do.

13 Simple Steps to Become a Fashion Photographer for a Magazine

  1. Understand fashion

A good many photographers jump into shooting fashion without really knowing what fashion is. Just as a photographer should know how to operate a camera, a fashion photographer should possess more than a basic knowledge of fashion.

A good understanding of the subject will go a long way towards helping your career, as you can know and easily predict the trends. Most materials on these topics are readily available on the internet now, so you need to read up to become versatile.

You can also research fashion magazines to see the industry standard for editorial fashion, so as to help you build ideas for fashion stories of your own, which would in turn help you establish a style of your own. Researching fashion magazines would also help you to examine the various images for lighting, choice of models, styling, make-up and hair looks, locations and post production.

  1. Take a course in photography

While you may not need a degree to run a successful career as a fashion photographer, but you would need to get an education in photography to learn how to carry out the craft on a professional level. You would need to get maybe a diploma to gain greater understanding of the craft. If you want a more in debt understanding into the business, you can go in for a degree or even a master’s program, but you have to note that these degrees would not make your career profitable.

As you study, ensure to develop your editing skills too. You may have to take some additional courses on this because fashion photographers must be able to edit their work to meet their clients’ needs. Photographers use Adobe Photoshop and other computer software to crop photos, correct flaws, and alter the images they have taken.

  1. Prepare your portfolio

Do you want to know a photographer with potentials? Look at his or her portfolio. Fashion photographers showcase their best work in a portfolio; and a portfolio is a collection of the photographer’s best work. While you would need to have a physical portfolio, but you must of necessity have digital portfolios that you can easily send online and display on your blog.

You also have to prepare a photo book where you reprint your best photos to show to agents and magazines. Early in their careers, photographers usually include photos taken during college and the portfolio evolves and improves as the photographer gains more experience.

Prospective clients choose photographers based on the style and skills exhibited in their portfolios. So, fashion photographers must keep their portfolio up-to-date and ensure that they put their best photos up front.

  1. Shoot with models

If you want to become a fashion photographer, you have to learn to photograph models. Shooting with models would help you get comfortable with it and it would teach you a thing or two. There are many websites out there that have models who are ready to shoot with you and who live in your area. You can start with an internet search to find model websites.

After you become comfortable taking pictures of amateur models and have some great photographs in your book, approach local modeling agencies by giving them a call or sending an email and ask to shoot their models for their portfolios. You may be able to shoot their models for free—or perhaps even get paid in the process of doing so. This is another way of getting your foot in the door.

  1. Intern with a fashion photography studio

One other way to develop yourself as a fashion photographer is to intern with an established fashion photographer. This is another way to build your portfolio when you are just starting out. Interning would help you learn a lot of skills that would help you stand out on your own when you finally set up. You can find many sites that list internships in fashion photography online.

  1. Seek out a photo agent

If you are a fashion photographer that is new to the scene, you might not be able to negotiate and get gigs on your own, and you may need help in that regard. There are agencies that exist solely to help photographers get clients, and also to sell their works.

They can help you get jobs, and equally get magazines to buy your stock photos too. Some agencies will represent people who are just starting out so you should look out for these ones. Getting an agent can save you time so that you can focus on your craft and let them do the negotiations.

Agents will often try to resell your work in different markets too, and they know the markets better than you do. Before you proceed, you have to research the agents in order to find one who doesn’t represent photographers who do exactly the same kind of work as you do. Otherwise you may get to face a lot of competition.

  1. Market yourself

The key to getting good jobs in the fashion industry is by marketing yourself. While it is good to use traditional methods of marketing, it would also serve you well to have a professional social media presence in which you focus on creating a brand for yourself.

Only put your best work out there to the world, though, whether it’s through social media or in a portfolio book. You must market yourself constantly in order to make it as a fashion photographer. You need to contact advertisers, magazine editors, shoot directors etc. to spread the word about yourself.

You can also exhibit your photos in an art gallery. This is one way to get the attention of professionals who will pay you for your work or hire you for jobs.

  1. Network

Networking is pretty much a prerequisite in fashion. You should learn to network and maintain relationships with people in the industry. Social networking sites are great for this as great fashion photographers, fashion designers, makeup artists, hair stylists, magazines, and photo editors can be found online. It may take some digging, but social networks have a ton of resources to aid you in your quest.

It’s best that you keep socializing and attending the parties that go along with it. Load up your portfolio in both your phone and iPad so you can show it easily at parties and anywhere for that matter. Also, print business cards and keep them handy. A combination of meeting in-person and following up on social media is one of the easiest and fastest ways to make a connection.

  1. Learn photo editing

Fashion photographers just don’t take the photographs; they also do their editing themselves because they alone know the needs of their clients. You will need to learn how to use computer software to crop photos, correct flaws in them and to alter images.

You will need to be able to communicate clearly with clients about their needs and desires. Most professional photographers use editing software to improve the look of their photos. You can learn these skills by taking a class in photo editing at a local college or you can teach yourself via online tutorial classes.

  1. Get your gear together

To project the status of a professional fashion photographer, you have to acquire a couple of good gears. But if you are just starting out, you would need just the basics. Get a couple of great lenses, some good lighting and quality enhancers. Learning to use whatever gears you have at any particular moment to produce great shots is the most important thing.

  1. Plan for a side income

Fashion photography is indeed a very profitable career, but it may not start paying the bills for a while if you are just starting out. So, it is advisable to seek for alternative sources of income while you continue trying to break to the industry.

The notion of the starving artist may sound glamorous, but there is nothing glamorous about being penniless and not being able to pay your bills especially if you have certain responsibilities and even debts to take care of. You may look to other simpler areas of photography such as doing wedding coverage to earn additional income.

  1. Be Prepared to Move

If you want to do high fashion and shoot for the biggest brands and magazines, you have to be in one of the major fashion cities because that is where everything happens. If you don’t live somewhere close, then you have to make the move.

While moving would not be easier on your pocket linings, but it is a very huge necessity unless you want to stick to doing model shoots for local boutiques.

  1. Keep track of your paperwork

Just because you are a fashion photographer doesn’t mean that you should not treat it like a normal business. You always have to keep track of your paperwork, and if possible get your business registered. You equally need to register copyright for your work, organize your contact lists, save press clippings, request for and save hi-res files of tear sheets, archive quotations, invoices, receipts, bank/credit card statements, model releases and contracts etc.

4 Basic Tools a Fashion Photographer Should Have

The job of a fashion photographer involves shooting glamorous models and luxury goods, both of which demand the highest quality photographic images possible. It is a fact the one of the biggest obstacles fashion photographers face is the expensive nature of the equipment needed to produce quality images, but as one who is just starting out, you may not set your sights yet on these very expensive equipment.

You can get started with less expensive ones pending when you can afford the rest. But you have to note that building up your arsenal is quite necessary if you want to get the big gigs. Some of the equipment you would need to start off with include;

a. Digital Camera

Your camera is one major equipment you would need as a fashion photographer. After all, what is a photographer without a camera? You should do yourself well to get a digital single lens reflex camera. This camera has largely replaced traditional film cameras in most forms of photography.

This camera is comfortable to shoot with, has good low-light performance, and images are faster to produce and quicker to edit. Your first purchase should be a DSLR camera body, which can range anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 and up. As you advance in your career, consider purchasing a medium format camera to capture images at 50 or more megapixels.

b. Lenses

Fashion photographers need a wide range of lenses, from 30mm for wide angle shots to 300mm zoom lens if the model is further back on the catwalk. Swimsuit and fashion photographers also use 400mm to 600mm telephoto lenses. Soft focus lenses produce an image that has a halo effect. These lenses are good for adding a luminous look to portraits.

c. Lighting Equipment

For a studio shoot, you would need an assortment of studio lights  such as photo floodlights, tungsten-halogen lamps and incandescent lighting. These lightings are necessary to properly light fashion subjects. Many of these lights can be used in conjunction with a strobe light or flash. For photographers on the go, a camera-mounted strobe is usually sufficient to capture any image. Some of the lighting equipment you may need include;

  • Beauty dishes: this is the quintessential modifier for beauty and fashion photography. The beauty dish sits right in between the hard and soft lighting modifiers. It makes the skin glow beautifully.
  • Giant umbrellas: this is a very popular choice for fashion photography. While the beauty dish is limited by its spread, giant reflectors can be used standalone because of their sizes. Here, the light spread is very even, making it perfect for photographing models full length and maintaining an accurate depiction of the details and colours of clothing—which is very important in fashion photography, especially in commercial work.
  • Scrims: these are used for diffusing harsh light outdoors, but are also wonderful for that commercial, glowy beauty shot in the studio. The scrim is more specific than other lighting modifiers and takes more work to setup and shoot with.
  • Octabanks: these lights can be used for fashion, beauty, or portrait shoots. There is a beautiful, even texture to the light and shadows. And unlike square or rectangular softboxes, the shape of the octabank creates a more rounded, beautiful gradient in the background when used without background fills.

d. Post-Production knowledge and equipment

A fashion photographer should be able to edit his or her own photographs after each shoot. This is one requirement that would make you successful. Post-production work consists of color correction, cropping, special effects and other creative manipulation to produce the desired image, and it is usually accomplished in Photoshop.

Having a computer with a high resolution, calibrated monitor is a must, as well as a large hard drive to hold large digital files. Fashion photographers who want to print their own images might consider setting up a digital workflow with a printer and scanner.

Ajaero Tony Martins