Fashion Photography

Possibly one of the most desirable photography specialisms, fashion photography directs how clothing, hair and makeup appears within advertising campaigns and editorial shoots.

Fashion photography has evolved and matured into it’s very own aesthetic, with the location and props becoming just as important as the clothes on the model.

What is fashion photography?

The term fashion photography conjures up images highly processed models promoting the latest designer fashions, but there are a number of different specialisms to explore.

EDITORIAL

The most common type of fashion photography, these images are often seen in high fashion magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. This kind of fashion editorial photography is usually published in ‘spreads’.

Primarily, these editorial spreads are designed to tell (and sell) a story and are often pulled together around a theme such as a season or a trend.

The terms ‘editorial photography’ and ‘high fashion photography’ are sometimes used interchangeably, but the main differences are:

Editorial sells both a lifestyle and a story

High fashion photography sells an aspirational lifestyle

HIGH FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

High Fashion photography delivers aspirational images. The models used to showcase the products are usually photographed in exaggerated outfits and poses.

The item being sold might not be the true focal point of the image, further cementing the fact that high fashion photography is more about selling the lifestyle than the product itself.

BEAUTY EDITORIALS

Magazines will often combine a fashion editorial shoot with a beauty editorial shoot. Beauty editorials are typified by close-up head and shoulder portraits to highlight the skin, hair and makeup.

TEA SHOOT

A test shoot will be done when a team of photographers, models and creatives need to get together for a practice run, testing the lighting, location and overall feasibility of the concept. Payment is not usually offered for a test shoot, but often the team will request the images to use in their own portfolio or ‘book’.

COMMERCIAL OR CATALOGUE PHOTOGRAPHY

Usually, this kind of photography shoot has a larger budget than editorial photography. Lookbooks, album covers and makeup advertisements fall into this category. Commercial shoots can be some of the most lucrative for fashion photographers.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GLAMOUR PHOTOGRAPHY AND FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY?

The key difference between fashion photography and glamour photography is that a fashion shoot will not set out to glamourise the model. Whilst fashion photography can be ‘sexy’, if the image would look more at home between the pages of a men’s magazine, it would be categorised as a glamour shoot.

FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY PIONEERS

Below, we have featured some talented UK fashion photographers who (in our opinion) are creating some of the best fashion and editorial spreads we see in the media today.

Claire Pepper

Emma Jane Lewis

THE HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

As cultural zeitgeist changes, fashion photography must keep up, evolving all the time. Some of the most iconic fashion photography campaigns have transcended the brands that they were designed to sell!

THE FIRST FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY MODEL – 1856

Widely regarded as the very first fashion photography model, Italian Countess Virginia Oldoini appeared in a set of photographs wearing her royal wedding clothing.

20TH CENTURY FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

The types of images seen in these very early shoots were purely promotional, showcasing gowns and dresses.

FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE PRESENT DAY

Fashion photography has grown into it’s very own lucrative industry. Glossy, high fashion publications such as Vogue are the dream jobs for many fashion photographers.

It’s a tough industry, taking patience, skill and sheer determination to break through.

THE BEST CAMERA EQUIPMENT FOR FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

Whether you’re shooting in a studio or in an exotic location, there are some must-have pieces of photography equipment no fashion photographer should be without on a shoot.

When it comes to picking your gear it’s advisable to spend as much as you can afford to get the most from your equipment and investing in a quality protective case to store all of that equipment.

MUST HAVE CAMERA KIT FOR FASHION PHOTOGRAPHERS

DSLR CAMERA FOR FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

Whatever camera brand you choose, look for a 35mm format DSLR for the best results from a fashion photography shoot. One of the most popular cameras for fashion shoots is the Nikon D3X due to the ultra low noise levels in the raw images and the lightning fast continuous shooting mode offering up 5 fps; perfect for capturing every pose and movement.

For a more affordable DSLR for fashion photography,it’s worth checking out the Canon EOS-5D Mark III. This camera is practically half the price of the Nikon D3Xwhich makes it a great choice if you’re working to a budget. The Canon EOS-5D Mark III is super light, making it perfectly portable if you’re shooting on the go.

LENSES

For editorials and studio shoots you can’t go wrong with a 24mm-70mm f/2.8. This type of lens provides a fantastic zoom, meaning that lens switches might not be needed as often during a studio or editorial shoot.

Another option which would work well for location shoots is a 35mm F/1.4 lens. This type of lens allows for a wider focal length, capturing the background as well as the detail of subject.

LIGHTING KITS FOR FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

Depending on whether you’re shooting in a studio or out on location, there are a number of different options for fashion photography lighting.

For high fashion photography a flash accompanied by a softbox is a great starting point as you’ll be able to vary the result.

EXTRA MEMORY CARDS

Always have enough space to store all of your images by carrying extra high capacity memory cards. To keep these safe and secure at all times from water, dust and knocks, it’s worth keeping them in a protective micro case. The solid foam inserts keep everything safe and secure, reducing the risk of corrupted data or loss.

A PROTECTIVE CAMERA CASE

Whether you’re working from a studio or out in the wilderness, you will want to keep all of your equipment damage free. This means storing everything in a secure and weatherproof environment. The Peli range of protective camera equipment cases holds all of your gear within foam inserts, meaning that knocks and bangs won’t be an issue for your delicate equipment.

THE HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

As cultural zeitgeist changes, fashion photography must keep up, evolving all the time. Some of the most iconic fashion photography campaigns have transcended the brands that they were designed to sell!

THE FIRST FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY MODEL – 1856

Widely regarded as the very first fashion photography model, Italian Countess Virginia Oldoini appeared in a set of photographs wearing her royal wedding clothing.

20TH CENTURY FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

The types of images seen in these very early shoots were purely promotional, showcasing gowns and dresses.

FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE PRESENT DAY

Fashion photography has grown into it’s very own lucrative industry. Glossy, high fashion publications such as Vogue are the dream jobs for many fashion photographers.

It’s a tough industry, taking patience, skill and sheer determination to break through.

KEY SKILLS FOR ANY FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER

There are a number of key skills which are important for fashion photographers:

Creative with a strong ability to capture a mood or vibe

Perfectionist with superb attention to detail

Intrinsic knowledge of various different photo editing software packages

Excellent communication skills

Ability to work to a strict deadline

Working with different people and personalities to achieve the end result

Whilst these are just some of the skills needed to succeed in the fashion photography niche, this is a great starting point if you’re in the beginning stages of your career.

Image © Chloe Bromilow

Image © Alexis Giardet

Image © Richard Johnson

Image © Nathan Cutler