There are many photographers out there who aspire to shooting fashion and enjoy the glam and the trends involved in this Industry. As a fashion photographer, with almost two decades experience in this field, there are certain important factors that you need to consider. This blog is intended as a guide to opening doors to those with intentions to become fashion photographers.

Do you have the right personality?

This may sound like a weird question, but working with models can be challenging. Models are very self-conscious and competitive, as they strive to be the best at their game, and to be selected at the casting. The rewards are high, as a well-established model earns well, working for established brands on both local and international levels. The stress and planning in this game will require the photographer to be “thick skinned” to criticism and mood changes. One will need to be patient and dedicated to the brief, in order to ensure the client gets the results they are paying for. It is therefore of most importance that the relationship between the photographer and the model is sound, and there is a good line of communication and respect to ensure a positive outcome. Remember, images speak louder than words, and that’s what the audience are analysing when they compare the look, mood and personality to their brand, to make certain that it communicates to their target market.

You will need to be hardworking and able to deal with teams, all with their own professional responsibilities in mind, which answer to the stress and planning process of the brief. You will need the skills to plan the shoot from start to finish, to ensure that nothing has been neglected or left out in this process. Remember big shoots for big brands cost money, and involve much planning and responsibility. So, be prepared to deal with people and their differences, as well as the high stress levels.

How to interpret the Brief and the Mood Board Successfully

This is one of the most important and critical parts of the shoot, as it is the understanding and the transparency of what the client is expecting from the shoot as an end result. Although this is normally always rushed, and involves many changes along the way, take a breath and make sure you are not disturbed… Digest, and make sure that you are able to absorb all of what is required. This is important, if the brief is not totally clear, ask questions, or you will have regrets and it will cost you. This is unfortunately the harsh reality, so you need to be a good listener, and a great interpreter to delivery.

How to plan the Photo shoot

Based on the brief and having established a good relationship with the team involved, you now have the confidence to take the wheel and drive the shoot. This will involve the following:

Is the shoot on Location or in a Studio?

Each of these two options is completely different in the planning and understanding process as to what is required. To be clearer on this, lighting is the first consideration. A studio is a place where you control the light, whereas when one is outdoors, you are normally reliant on natural light. As the photographer, you must understand how lighting works. Fashion has its own lighting setups and techniques, in order to ensure the end result is accomplished. What I suggest, is that you consider attending a short practical lighting workshop or course, for fashion or even portraiture. Here you will be able to explore and understand the techniques in order to establish different looks and moods in different environments. This will reduce the stress levels, and add room to express your attention to “composition and mood” through the lens so as to meet the brief. I call it the 90/10 rule. 10% challenge, 90% talent.

What Camera gear is required to shoot Fashion?

On the last point relating to lighting, if you don’t own lighting, rent it, there are many people who specialise in rentals of this nature at affordable rates, so you can load this into your quotation.  If you look properly, there are also some amazing photography and video studios, which provide professional and top of the range lighting for both stills and video photography, at a very reasonable rate, in the packages that they offer. This in my opinion, makes sense to everyone, especially a photographer that has to travel distances by air, luggage is always a compromise along with the inconvenience caused. It is all about placing the stress behind you, and focusing on the actual shoot.

Planning what you carry is key, when choosing the correct lenses and body for the nature of the shoot. Making sure that the brief is clear, will assist in making the right decisions as to lens of choice. Make sure your card is large enough and formatted, ready for the task, and that your camera batteries are charged and waiting to work. (hint… use pro lenses that provide the correct range and aperture, in order to meet the brief. Besides being a great fashion photographer, one needs to always remember that the better the quality of glass in the lens, the better the end result.

Communication is the Key

As this is a job that has many variables and responsibilities to deal with and consider, you need to be awake and “on it”. Always keep your phone on, and reply to questions as well as changes in the schedule. Be aware of the weather and lastly, be confident and assertive in your communication and planning with your team. In short, these are a few pointers to consider.


All the best, now go and do it!