Tips for for Succeeding as a Fashion Photographer Pro photographer Karl Taylor on the inside of the Fashion industry and what you need to know

On this video professional photographer, Karl Taylor takes a very board yet detailed look at what you might need in order to get into the fashion photography business.

Many photographers starting in the industry might think that the life of a professional fashion photographer is all about glamorous high end high paying shoots with top models, exotic locations, and large crews working around them. The truth, for the most part, is much more down to earth with most shoots consisting of much smaller crews, a lot more work, far less pay, and a lot of pretty tedious work that is not necessarily directly photographic in nature.

With that said – if you are passionate about getting into this industry there are quite a few things that you need to know and in this video, Taylor provides quite a few tips that might help you get started:

  • First, you need to understand how the industry is divided – you have more or less 4 main categories of fashion shoots: 1. editorial, 2. catalogue, 3. advertising, 4. high-end advertising. The first is typically the lowest budget and depending on the magazine will include several images with a theme surrounding a specific product, brand. Catalogue shoots are the next step up with the photographer required to shoot dozens or even hundreds of different shoots of different items for a catalogue either on a studio or on location (these can be simple white background shoots or higher-paid complex setups on location). The next step up will be your standard advertising fashion shoots where the goal is to get a small number of shots that will be used for a campaign online or in a printed magazine/billboard etc. for a specific brand. Finally, the highest paying jobs (and also the rarest in the industry) are those few high-end advertising shoots that will typically include very high budgets (can easily go up to 5 figures or more), these are done by the biggest brands in the world with international top models or celebrities, include complex setups, large crews and appear globally.
  • Taylor goes into the question of how to plan your fashion shoot. He suggests that you come up with a strong concept and discuss it with your team and try and get them to be as enthusiastic about your ideas as you are – a fashion shoot is a team effort and you need your team to be on board. Having the idea of the outfit, the location, the sets etc. at an early stage will be very helpful. A mood board is also a good idea for communicating your ideas to your team.
  • Creating large and complex sets is great but it can be very expensive and time-consuming, Taylor suggests considering using the same set in different ways, using lighting to give the set different moods and creating your own custom backgrounds to cut costs.
  • Working with a good fashion stylist can be very useful both for getting new shoots from new labels and for acquiring outfits for specific shoots. You can always try and find specific pieces on Etsy or other online markets as well as flea markets to save costs and get unique looking items. If you are creative you might even create your own accessories from simple materials and of course you and always connect and collaborate with designers in exchange for photos.
  • Taylor discusses in the video some of the agencies he is familiar with (from the U.K. – this is, of course, different for different countries), but there are some general guidelines that are true in most cases like looking for new models that will be willing to work for a lower fee in exchange for photos if you are on a budget, if you have the budget working with model agencies will typically give you more experienced models that can give you much better results, cutting work time and helping with the shoot. This can cost more (several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per day depending on the agency, the model and of course where you are from and who is the shoot for). Just make sure you always treat your models right and try to have them involved in the shoot, let the rest when they need and basically be a decent human being.
  • Get a good hair and makeup artists is imperative. Try and see previous works (if possible images which are not photoshopped so you can really see the makeup artists/hairstylist work and no the skills of the retoucher).
  • You don’t need a $50K camera to shoot fashion, a good quality modern FF camera should be just fine (there are plenty of models from all the major brands nowadays including high megapixel ones if you know you might need to print your images large). Having a medium format camera is always an option but it will mean a slower shoot so keep this in mind. Both Taylor and fashion photographer Daria Belikova prefer to shoot a little wider with their lenses so typically 35mm (equivalent on 35mm cameras) or maybe up to 60mm for a full-body shot.
  • Lighting can make your image stand out and will give your shoot the mood that you are looking for – it can go from a single light to many lights depending on the situation, Tylor prefers large parabolic lights but beauty dishes and umbrellas are good budget options.
  • Final tips – find an idea and get inspired by it (develop the idea, inspiration can come for music, cinema etc.), find a good location, create a good set or source good props (but don’t overdo it), choose the best artist that you can to help you in makeup, hair and styling – there is a lot of managing in fashion photography and having a winning team is probably one of the most important tips that Taylor has to offer in this video.

You can check out more of Karl Taylor’s video we posted in the past here on LensVid. More videos we published in the past about photography as a business. You can find many more lighting videos on our photography lighting section.

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