5 Tips for Getting Into Fashion Photography

Marianne Stenger
3rd May 2016

If you love fashion and have dabbled in photography, there’s a good chance you’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a professional fashion photographer. But while it’s true that working in fashion can be exciting and lucrative, you should know that it’s also an extremely competitive field, as much for photographers as it is for designers and models.

Aside from skill, breaking into the fashion industry will require tenacity and a tough skin. If you think you have what it takes, here are some tips for getting your feet wet as a fashion photographer.


1. Read fashion magazines and blogs

If you’re not already doing so, the first thing you should do is to start reading as many fashion magazines as you can get your hands on.

Big names like Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar are a good place to start, but try to read a wide variety of blogs, websites and independent publications, and follow the work of individual photographers to get a feel for a few different styles. You can also spend some time researching top editors, models and designers, and studying up on the history of fashion as well recent trends and industry news.


2. Learn the tools of the trade

You can’t expect to start working as a fashion photographer until you have a firm handle on everything from lighting to editing. Learn how to use tools like umbrellas, reflectors and soft boxes, and experiment with different techniques until you feel confident in your abilities.

You’ll also need to know how to retouch and edit your own photos, as learning to do this will help you to develop your own style.


3. Find ways to get experience

If you’ve only ever shot portraits of family and friends, it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and start working with a variety of people. This is the only way to learn important practical skills like communicating with and directing your models.

There are plenty ways to gain experience, especially if you’re willing to work for free, so check out modelling sites and groups on Facebook, ask an established photographer if you can assist in one of their upcoming photo shoots and look for aspiring actors, dancers or other professionals who may need head shots or portraits done.


4. Start building a portfolio

Once you’re confident in your abilities and knowledge as a fashion photographer, it’s time to start building up a portfolio so you can show editors and potential clients what you’re capable of.

You can start by checking out the portfolios of photographers you admire, but remember that while it’s never a bad thing to let great photographers influence and inspire you, you should work towards developing your own style.

Try to select a variety of images from different photo shoots to show off your versatility, and get a second opinion from someone you trust to give you honest feedback before showing your portfolio to potential clients.


5. Network with industry professionals

In order to break into the fashion industry, you’ll need to surround yourself with people who already work in it, whether they’re models, editors, designers or other photographers.

Start by joining online groups and following industry professionals on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also look for networking events, gallery and fashion shows or art exhibitions in your area, where you’ll be able to meet other photographers, models and editors in person.