High Fashion Photography


Fashion photography is a combination of creative technology, which is to create a product that will become known to the general public. Because this kind of photography isn't just about photographing a pretty girl in casual clothes or lingerie. Fashion photography began its existence back in the 20s of the last century when the first fashion brand began to develop along with the shoots of the first models.   

Before jumping into the depth of fashion photography, it is worth paying attention to certain factors. This is a very competitive environment, where only a few can understand what is in the client's mind and when it is necessary to offer their vision. First, you need a camera to start with a good digital reflex camera. You also need to know how to take quality photography and know post-production if you plan to become a popular fashion photographer.               

Create your online portfolio to make yourself known. Be mindful of the stylistic trends of the big brands without giving up your personality when you are on the set. It is also essential to attend fashion events and fashion shows in your city. Take pictures more often, and over time you will get the necessary experience and acquaintances.                   

Types of Fashion Photography 

Lighting, retouching, post-production, the world of fashion photography is far from simple.

Fashion photography is much more than a charming model who poses fearlessly in front of the lens. The challenging profession of a fashion photographer is divided into several subcategories:

    • Advertising photography. This is the highest level anyone who aspires to a career as a fashion photographer could wish for. It produces photographs imbued with a brand or product concept that directly speaks about it. You will have to weigh well and discuss the idea with the client, mood, aesthetics, location.

Advertising fashion photography

    • Studio fashion photography.  This type of photography involves posing for fashion magazines, online magazines, or magazine applications. These are photo shoots from which at least 7 photos will be extrapolated to tell a story. The fundamental support should be the product you want to advertise for clothing, a pair of shoes, or, more generally.

Studio fashion photography

  • Photo for the catalog. Photoshoot in which there will be it is enough to capture various products in the studio with more or less standard light sources, which are then enhanced with contrast and color, influencing their characteristics.

fashion photo for the catalog

Different types of fashion photography will help you better understand what you want and what you are best at. To better understand this type of photography, try yourself in each genre.

Guide to Fashion Photography

Each photo should have its purpose. All elements and colors in the picture must meaningfully harmonize with each other. Strong contrasts also work well when they add meaning to the photo.

  • Use inspiration to create amazing shots; look for inspiration, for example, in the work of other photographers. You can also share your ideas and discuss them with others. Pay attention to details,  colors, and lighting effects in the environment.

  • Have an idea of ​​what you are aiming for. Whenever you start creating images, clearly visualize the result. An example of fashion photography by other photographers will help you with this. Leave enough room for change. After all, you can always revise your plans to bring your shots to perfection.

  • Before shooting, take some time to look around the area you intend to shoot. Because location matters. Take a walk and study the colors, objects, and buildings located in the area. Imagine how you would like the models to pose and what they should convey with their gaze and pose. And also, focus on the details; for example, it can be stones, columns, a traffic light, or something else that can be imprinted in a photograph in a certain way.

  • You must carefully select models. Make sure they have qualities that will enhance your photos. The model alone can drastically change the outcome of your sht, so it's important to find one that reflects your vision and matches the intended image. See examples of fashion shots by other photographers with unusual models.

More about how to become a model, read in our other guide.

  • Try changing the lighting in the same frame. Try different aperture values, different shooting speeds. It's important to manage light, avoid unwanted shadows, and recreate certain lighting with filters, reflectors, and lamps. You can experiment until you get what you are looking for.

Lighting Tips for Fashion Photography

Becoming a good fashion photographer is not easy, but finding clients is pretty easy. Because it is a profession that offers various job opportunities, you can work directly for the end consumer, whose model needs a portfolio, start working in the world of fashion in which you could offer yourself to the agencies of this sector. In addition, you can work for specific brands that will start to print catalogs, brochures. Or suppose you don't like the concept of freelance photographer and all the headaches and responsibilities that come with it. In that case, you may decide to join a communications agency that provides you with client contacts. Do your best with small brands and simple assignments to eventually enter a really big market as soon as you have the necessary experience.

lighting settings for fashion photography

Lighting can make a photo better and worse, but that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on professional lighting. 

  • The fashion photographer creates most of his photographs using one light source and a white reflector. Newbies often try to create an overly complex lighting model with multiple flashes. This only degrades the image. Keep it simple, pick a location, figure out what you need to work with, and solve the lighting problem.

Here are some techniques and tips for creating professional fashion and beauty shots.

Work with natural light

Before purchasing additional lighting, learn to work with daylight coming in through a window.

  • Ask the model if someone from your family or friends will stand or sit no further than two meters from the window. 

  • Capture from all angles to understand how the light hits the model and how it affects the image’s overall appearance. For example, if you want to achieve even lighting without shadows, turn the model to face the window and stand with her back to it. This is good lighting, but it is rather boring because it does not add dimension to the image. Rotate the model 30 degrees for interesting shadows that accentuate the contours of the face; while rotating it 45 degrees, you will notice even higher contrast.

Try not to use different types of lighting         

For high fashion photography, photographers rarely use flashlights in conjunction with daylight. If possible, it is best to work with daylight only and use a reflector to enhance the effect. If you don't have enough light, which rarely happens, use constant artificial light or a flash. Fashion photographers recommend using the same type of light source.

Shoot in a dark studio

For high fashion photography, location photography is best, but sometimes it is necessary to shoot in the studio too. 

  • If you want to set up a working studio, it is best to choose the darkest possible room for this since the absence of daylight will allow you to have complete control over the light scene. 

  • Use a flashlight to emphasize the model; simultaneously, the light from the pilot lamp will help you focus and see where the dark and light parts of the frame are. In the studio, photographers usually work with a shutter speed of about 1/125 sec. But it can be done shorter.  It depends on the duration of the flash, which in most cases is from 1/800 to 1/3500 of a second.

Experiment with artificial light

Many fashion photography prefers a permanent studio light or studio flash; however, a ring light, such as a circular fluorescent lamp or multiple ring-shaped LEDs connected, can also be useful for high fashion photography

  • Lighting accessories such as softboxes, umbrellas, and reflectors can affect the appearance and intensity of light. It can also be helpful to play with the direction of the light and the distance between the light and the subject. Each choice you make affects the nature of the lighting you create, and the best way to figure out the most powerful lighting models is to experiment. 

  • Place large softboxes very close to the model; for a sharper light, use standard reflectors or light tubes, although these can be tricky to work with because of the deep shadows. The larger the softbox, the softer the light, and vice versa, the smaller its diameter, the sharper the illumination will be.

Adjust the white balance

One of the first parameters to adjust before shooting is white balance. It also needs to be re-configured when changing locations. 

  • This way, the colors you see with the naked eye will match the colors on the camera screen and on the printed version. The camera usually recreates colors with high fidelity, but if you are shooting in extremely cold or warm lighting conditions or using multiple light sources, adjustments can take time. 

  • If you are new to fashion photography, the preset camera modes will help you. Still, it is worth taking a photo of the gray card for professional-level shooting and then choosing a custom white balance and adjusting its value.

fashion photography techniques

Fashion Photography Techniques         

How beautiful your photos are will depend on the correct choice of technology and lens. Therefore, these points are worth focusing on.

  • Choose the right camera. 
  • The choice of the camera depends no less than the choice of the lighting scheme. 

  • You need cameras that work in all conditions and provide high-quality images. If you are looking for an even higher resolution than usual, the Canon EOS 5DS R 50.6MP is the best choice for depth-of-field, shooting comfort, and a wide ISO range. In all other cases, you can use the Canon EOS R mirrorless camera in all other cases, which is also a full-frame but a lighter camera. It perfectly reproduces the color gamut. 

  • With the right exposure and white balance settings, you will be happy with the result because the colors on this camera look extremely realistic.
  • Manual and semi-automatic modes. 
  • In most cases, you can use manual mode for fashion photography as it gives you more control over the final image. 

  • However, when shooting on location on a cloudy and windy day, where the light intensity will fluctuate greatly, switching to Aperture Priority mode will automatically adjust exposure. This allows you to focus on other aspects of the shot, such as the position of the subject in the frame, emotional effect, and composition.
  • How to focus?        
  1. When you are working in fashion photography, the focus in most cases should be on the model. This can be a full-length photo showing fashionable clothes or a close-up shot photographing shoes, accessories, or makeup. 

  2. Autofocus helps a lot and is especially stable on the Canon EOS 5DS R and Canon EOS R cameras. Try using only one focus point and one-shot AF, which is ideal for shooting a static subject. 
  3. If you are working with the Canon EOS 5DS R, select the center focus point, focus on the subject's face, and compose without releasing the shutter. When the composition suits you, then press the button. The Canon EOS R makes this process even easier as you can switch between the focus points using the touchscreen. If your subject is moving, such as jumping, walking, or dancing, switching to AF mode can help you track and maintain focus on your subject.
  • Experiment with different lenses. The Canon EF 24-70mm f / 2.8L II USM lens will do most high fashion photography with professional models. The 24-70mm model is great for this genre as it covers nearly the entire focal length range for studio photography. For close-up portraits, try the Canon EF 50mm f / 1.4 USM or Canon EF 85mm f / 1.8 USM.  As they recreate the scene as closely as possible to how the human eye sees it. In low light conditions, the Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM model helps a lot.

As you can see, becoming a fashion photographer takes some time to learn and practice. It is not as difficult as it may seem at the very beginning, the main thing is to focus on your goal and constantly develop.


  • Which fashion photographers can we draw inspiration from?
  1. Mario Testino. The Peruvian photographer has captured some of the world's most iconic models, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, and Gisele Bundchen.
  2. Steven Meisel.
  3. Annie Leibovitz.
  4. Patrick Demarchelier.
  5. Herb Ritts.
  • Who is a fashion photographer?

A fashion photographer takes photographs of clothing and accessory collections, catwalks, and fashion shows to highlight and show in photographs clothing items, shoes, accessories, and other objects related to fashion.

  • Is fashion photography art?

Yes. Photography has always belonged to the variety and fashion photography of art and is not an exception. It can be described as a fine arts industry that focuses solely on the promotion of high fashion.

  • What should be done to start to become a fashion photographer if I've never done it before? 

The best way to get to know your camera is to put it into practice, and this is true, but above all, it requires knowledge of the topic. Start with the practice; it is the best way to gain experience. Then create your portfolio based on your personality that will convey your mood and your stylistic choices.

  • What should be in a photographer's portfolio?

A photographer's portfolio is a collection of his work. It is believed that the best work of the photographer should be presented in it.

Here's what else a portfolio should contain:

  1. Introduction, description of the portfolio topic, and information about the photographer;
  2. List of photos;
  3. Photo titles and a brief description;
  4. Date and place of shooting;
  5. Contacts.
  • How much do fashion photographers earn?

According to many statistics, a fashion photographer earns $72,000 a year. But this amount may vary depending on the finer specifics of the work.

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