Skip to content

Fashion Photography: Discover the Secrets to Success in Fashion Photography

Fashion Photography

Fashion photography is a complex and super interesting niche for professional photographers. As you already know, being a professional photographer gives you the opportunity to work in many different areas. Among these niches, perhaps one of the best known is fashion photography.

Whether browsing a magazine or observing billboards, fashion photography is always present in our daily lives. And it takes much more than understanding clothes and aesthetics to enter this business.

To work with fashion photography, you need a lot of technique and a great command of your equipment. Below you will find all the information and tips you need to get started.

What is Fashion Photography?

The fashion photography is a genre of photography, usually thought to accompany the launch of fashion collections.

This type of photo can be used for advertisements, catalogs or even to convey a stylist’s aesthetics. Therefore, it is essential that the photographer understands the concept of the collection, its target audience and the trim and movement of the photographed pieces.

In fashion photography, the story told by the image must be clear. In addition, images from the same collection must be cohesive and consistent.

What is Fashion Photography?
Fashion Photography

In general, fashion collections are created by the stylist as a persona in mind. This persona must be taken into account when shooting.

The fashion photography market, however, is very vast. So much so that it was divided into four main genres: fashion photojournalism, beauty photography, editorial and commercial. Later on, we will explore these concepts better.

History of Fashion Photography

As expected, the history of fashion photography is closely linked to fashion magazines. It all started in the mid- 1880s, when they started using photographs instead of traditional illustrations.

The Baron Adolf Mayer is often considered one of the forerunners, having photographed for Vogue in the early twentieth century.

In 1932, the first color fashion photograph was published, also in Vogue. Photographer Edward Steichen’s work portrayed a girl in a bathing suit, holding a beach ball.

Until the mid-1960s, however, fashion photography was quite different from what we know today.

It was only with the work of photographers Helmut Newton and David Bailey that we began to give as much focus to the models as to the registered clothes.

Types of Fashion Photography

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, fashion photography is a very broad genre.

Within this niche, there are four main categories of photographs, which differ greatly. Both speaking of objective and techniques used.

Types of Fashion Photography

Below you can learn more about the four major aspects of fashion photography:

Fashion Editorial

The fashion editorial is one of the vehicles most used by brands and stylists to present their products to the public.

This type of photography can be shown in both magazines and newspapers. The goal, however, is not to sell specific parts. Here, the photographer must focus on selling concepts, behaviors and characters.

Editorial is one of the most important areas for the fashion photographer. This is because it is usually these works that project the professional to the market.

In most magazines, you don’t work with a budget, but with border. That is, the fee is usually paid for each page or photo published.

Fashion Editorial
Fashion Editorial

In addition, it is important to keep in mind that some magazines do not provide funds for production. This is up to the photographer.

Although editorial photography has a low average remuneration when compared to the advertising market, it is still important for the photographer. This is because it is one of the best ways to promote yourself in the industry.

To produce editorial fashion photography, it is essential to understand the profile of the magazine for which you will offer your services. The next step is to build a portfolio that suits your client’s style.

Beauty Photography

In beauty fashion photography, the important thing is the hair, skin and makeup of the models.

Beauty Photography
Beauty Photography

In this segment, the goal is usually to sell some product for skin, hair or nail care. In addition, it is also a style of photography commonly used to sell makeup and accessories, such as earrings, necklaces and bracelets.

Fashion Photojournalism

In fashion, photojournalism is aimed at documenting this entire universe. This can include the backstage of a parade, the looks presented at fashion week or even street fashion.

Fashion Photojournalism
Fashion Photojournalism

Another very widespread type is the registration of the look used by celebrities in important events, such as the red carpet or awards.

Commercial Photography

The commercial fashion photography is usually focused on promoting and selling in specific parts. They are commonly known as catalog photographs.

In general, these photos are less produced and less conceptual than the editorials. This is because the focus should be on the item of clothing itself, and not on the models or the concept of the collection.

Commercial Photography
Commercial Photography

The objective of the commercial fashion photographer should be to illustrate the fit of the pieces and possibilities of combination. And in tests like this, companies also make Fashion Film for the launch of the collection.

Fashion Photographer Skills and Competencies

Now you have a deeper understanding of the fashion photography market. So, it’s time to start thinking about the skills you need to enter this market.

Fashion and Beauty

First of all, it is very important that the fashion photographer is involved in this universe. You will need to understand about fashion and beauty trends, as well as some basic style rules.

Fashion and Beauty
Fashion and Beauty

During the sessions, it is important to talk to makeup artists, hairdressers and stylists. They will be able to give you a good idea about the thematic and dynamic expected of the photographs.

Do your homework. It is very important to know the giants of this branch, so you keep an eye on the latest trends.

Editorial Tip

Poses for Photos and Model Direction

The direction of the models is an extremely important aspect in the career of a fashion photographer. That’s because, most of the time, the models are not as informed about the artistic direction of the session as you are.

Therefore, it is essential that there is clear communication. Show the models the results you are experiencing and offer guidance in a dynamic way. Of course, always being courteous.

It is also a good idea to explain the concept of the session and personas to the models, so that they can create and interpret a suitable character.

Poses for Photo
Poses for Photo

In fashion photographs for editorials, the poses must be bold and create interesting lines in the composition. When the objectives of photography are more commercial, it is important that the poses used highlight the pieces of clothing.

You may also like to read: Poses for a Photoshoot.

Fashion Photography Course

There are several training courses available in fashion photography. From available on online platforms, such as Udemy to those studied at renowned universities.

This type of training, in addition to teaching you more about the techniques and dynamics of the fashion world, can open many doors. After all, a prestigious formation is always a differential that highlights your portfolio.

Post Processing or Image Editing

In the world of fashion photography, post-processing is more than expected. And it is not only done in the contrast and colors of the photograph.

The ideal is that you know how to deal with basic adjustments such as correcting spots on the skin and brightening the smile, for example. Highlights in shadows and adding elements to the composition are also very common.

Post Processing
Photo After Post Processing

Of course, the more a photo is changed in post-processing, the more expensive it becomes. Due to this factor and the tendencies to publish more realistic and natural images, the preference is usually for the most subtle adjustments.

Photographic Techniques and Creativity

The techniques used in fashion photography are often similar to those used in portraits. When in studios, most professionals keep the camera settings on automatic.

More important than focus or openness in this business is lighting. Of course, the proper technique will depend on the type of image you intend to produce.

Photographic Techniques and Creativity
Photographic Techniques and Creativity

The directed light can create an interesting shadow play, but it is not suitable for any pose or type of clothing, for example. So, above all, you need to train your photographic look and be creative.

Photographic Equipment and Accessories

One of the most frequent doubts among photographers who are debuting in this market – or in any other sector of photography – is what type of equipment should be used.

Photographic Equipment and Accessories
Photographic Equipment and Accessories

After all, today we have a multitude of models of cameras, lenses and other accessories. How to choose what you really need to succeed in fashion photography?

Contrary to what most people believe, you don’t have to have a large collection to start with. Check out our recommendations:

  • A good quality digital camera. In fashion photography, resolution is very important. Since images are often printed – for magazines or billboards – the number of megapixels must be high.
  • The right lens is also essential. For external photographs, put the zoom lens aside and prefer a wide-angle to medium telephoto, adjustable from 15 to 55 millimeters.
  • It is also necessary to have a 50mm lens with a fixed focal length, with a fast aperture – preferably between f/1.2 and f/1.8 – for use in fashion photographs in situations with less light.

Where can the Fashion Photographer Act?

In fashion photography, you must prepare to perform both in studios and outdoors. Job opportunities are very diverse.

It is common for fashion magazines and designer brands to hire editorial works in order to promote new collections.

Fashion Photographers
Fashion Photographers

Commercial fashion photographs are abundant both in store catalogs and in advertising. They can appear in magazines, billboards or on the internet.

If your intention is to do fashion photojournalism, you should look for opportunities with magazines and publishers. Web sites that specialize in news from the fashion world may also be potential employers. Also, be sure to read our article on photojournalism.

Best Fashion Photographers to Follow and Get Inspired

As in all areas of this art, you can learn a lot about the fashion photography market by watching the work of renowned professionals. So, we have separated a list of incredible inspirations.

Fashion Photography

Stay on top of fashion and observe the techniques used by these photographers:

  • Richard Avedon
  • Steven Meisel
  • Steven Klein
  • Glen Luchford
  • Ellen Von Unwerth
  • Mario Sorrenti
  • Mario Testino
  • Bob Wolfenson
  • Mark Abrahams
  • Franklin Maimone


Fashion photography is a vast genre, in which professionals can act in many different ways. In this article, you got to know the four main sectors of this niche better:

  • Editorial;
  • Commercial;
  • Beauty;
  • Photojournalism.

Plus, you’ve found all the tips and inspiration you need to start shooting fashion today. If you, already have experience with fashion photography, leave your opinion in the comments and don’t forget to ask if you have any questions.