How to Shoot Fashion Photos: Your Complete Guide

Fashion Photography
Watch Julia Trotti explain 5 Fashion Photography tips

Every photographer has their specialty. Maybe you’re known for capturing the beauty of natural landscapes or for taking heart-piercing portraits.

Whether you’ve found your passion or you’re still searching, it’s always a good idea to diversify your skills. That includes learning how to shoot fashion photos.

If you’re trying to build your portfolio or you’ve been hired for a shoot, here’s how to put together a jaw-dropping fashion photoshoot from the first steps.

Have the Right Equipment

You already know that some cameras are better for different purposes than others. When it comes to fashion photography, a full-frame camera is the gold standard.

Full-frame photography allows you to have more options with your shooting locations because the camera works well in low-light environments. It also lets you create certain effects better, like having a blurred background behind a clear model.

Create a Story

Despite the perception, a fashion shoot isn’t just about the clothes. Your goal is to make your audience feel a specific way about the clothes, and the best way to do that is by telling a story.

Build a narrative in your mind. If you’re doing the shoot for a particular magazine or clothing brand, your story should be consistent with their brand.

For instance, let’s say you’re taking photos for a magazine’s Independence Day issue. Your shoot could tell the story of newly naturalized citizens and the sense of pride and freedom they feel.

Write a Summary

As you come up with details for your story, write down everything. Write down the narrative and the way you want readers to feel when they see the photos.

Be sure to note the purpose for the shoot as well. Is it for a magazine? Stock photography? A fashion brand? Or to add to your portfolio.

Compile all this information into a single brief. This will be the document you’ll share with the members of your team to keep everyone on the same page.

You should also use this brief to keep yourself on track. It’s easy to start veering to one side and end up with a completely different type of photos than you envisioned.

Build a Mood Board

On top of your brief, you want a visual reminder of the feel you want your fashion photos to achieve. This is called a mood board.

Browse the web for photos that have a similar vibe to the one you want to capture. They don’t need to be fashion photos themselves. You can use pictures of landscapes and environments that have the mood you’re looking for.

As you’re planning the details of your shoot, this mood board will serve as your inspiration.

Identify a Location

A fashion photoshoot may need to emphasize the clothes, but your background plays a huge role in that goal.

If you can find an existing location that has the feel you want, that’s likely to be the easiest option. Depending on the job, your client may also have a studio you can use.

Be sure to start this step early. It can take time to find the perfect site. When you do, you also need time to get written permission to shoot there.

Choose the Right Team

As with any project, finding the right team for your fashion shoot is crucial.

At the least, you’ll need a model, a fashion stylist, and someone to do hair and makeup. Depending on the project’s budget and size, you may need several hair and makeup artists and many models.

Every person on the team should see your brief and your mood board to make sure they’re on the same page.

As you’re going through headshots to hire your models, don’t get caught up in the way they look in the pictures. Think about whether they’ll be able to fit your shoot’s vibe with the right styling. Look at their potential, not the way they appear in their headshot.

What if you have an extremely small budget and you can’t afford the typical pay for models and stylists?

Reach out to the schools in your area that train these professionals. Get in touch with hair and makeup artists and models who are just starting out. Many will do the job for little or no fee to build their portfolios and get exposure.

Use Counter-Balances

The fashions may be the key subjects in your photos, but they may not be able to hold up a photo on their own.

As you frame and arrange each shot, make sure you maintain a balance. Have props available to create more balance on the fly if the poses aren’t looking the way you want them to.

If the photos still look “off,” have your models interact with the environment. This can create a more natural, balanced shot.

Experiment with Different Angles

It sounds like a simple change but the angles at which you photograph your models will impact the mood in each image.

Learn how different angles impact the way a viewer feels when seeing the picture. For instance, when the camera looks up at a model it creates a feeling of openness and power. When the camera looks down at the model, it has a more emotional, intimate feeling.

That knowledge gives you a starting point, but you should also experiment with different angles for every shot. You never know exactly how a view will turn out, so have more options than you think you’ll need.

Control the Airflow

The airflow of the room affects every photo shoot, but especially when you’re capturing fashion photos.

Some types of clothing look better with a breeze making them flow. During your shoot, have fans available to create different speeds of airflow.

If you’re shooting outdoors, you also run the risk of having too much wind. Bring materials to block as much or as little wind as you need and make sure you have an assistant who can help.

Snapping the Perfect Fashion Photos

As every photographer knows, few things in photography are as simple as they seem. Taking great fashion photos isn’t just about snapping pictures of clothes.

From creating a plan to being able to adjust each shot in the moment, the tips above can help you carry out a successful fashion shoot.

If you’re more in the mood to browse cool photos today than create your own, check out the favorites in my photo gallery.

John Kilmerstone

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling and photography. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of full frame 35mm photography. Discover the advantages of using this powerful camera system.

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