If you love fashion and photography, then being a fashion photographer may be an excellent career for you as fashion photography combines the two things you are passionate about doing. Before you jump on this opportunity, read this post to learn more about the industry.
I will cover the different types of fashion photography and provide you with some names that you may want to follow. I will also help you understand where the fashion photography industry has been and where it may be heading.
Additionally, I will provide great photography tips that you can easily apply to your first fashion photography shoots.
No shoot would be complete without post-editing work, and I will tell you some of the programs and tools you might want to use to take your photos to the next level.
Let’s get started!
We will also investigate the role that fashion photography plays in the consumer’s experience and life generally.
What does fashion photography exactly mean?
While fashion photography usually means taking photos of clothing and accessories, it also can mean alluding to those items instead of photographing them. Fashion photographers must create an emotional appeal for their client’s products. In addition to taking the images, fashion photography involves the post-editing work that must occur.
Companies, including fashion magazines, want customers to feel different emotions when viewing fashion photography. For instance, when you view a fashion photo that intends to sell children’s clothing, the image may need adults, such as parents or grandparents, to think cute and cuddly. Alternatively, if the photo is of women’s clothing, the company may want the viewer to think sensual and sexy. Still, if the image is of a man’s workout outfit, the company may want the person to think solid and robust.
Fashion photographers may have a variety of clientele. They may work directly for clothing companies producing television or print advertising. They may also work with fashion magazines to sell advertising to clothing companies and build the publication’s readership. Fashion photographers may also work with events, such as fashion weeks, to create interest in events.
Fashion photographers must consider the entire scene that they are creating. It needs to look like the viewer can step out of where they are and into the photo. Therefore, the photographer needs to consider the environment in addition to clothes and accessories. For instance, the photographer may need to create a warm and sunny image if the purpose is to sell swimwear, even in the middle of the winter. Likewise, the photographer may need to create a winter environment to sell ski wear even if it is 100 degrees outside.
Fashion photographers must be creative. They must capture the emotional intent of their clients in a way that will capture the attention of viewers better than their competitors.
We will be diving into more about fashion photography in a bit. There are lots of technical details to become a great fashion photographer.
History of fashion photography
Even after wealthy women started buying their clothes in stores, models were not used as company officials thought it would give away their trade secrets. Therefore, photographers had to capture photos of women in social settings wearing the clothes. Even when fashion houses used models, an artist sketched them instead of using a photographer.
That changed in about 1860 when Frederic Eugene Ives invented the halftone printing process. The change allowed magazines to reproduce fashion photos in periodicals. Two of the first to use the process were Harper’s Bazaar, founded in 1867, and Vogue, first published in 1892.
Around 1910, the Seeberger brothers started photographing influential women at events. Publishers began using these photos in their French publications. Soon, clothing houses started sending their models to these events in hopes that the brothers would choose one of their models to be photographed.
Yet, American photographer Edward Steichen received credit for creating the first modern collection of fashion photos when he photographed Paul Poiret-designed gown in 1911 for publication in Art et Decoration.
Learn more about his work which continued for many years, by watching this video:
In 1911, Baron Adolf de Meyer became the first photographer to set a mood with his work. His work often showcased women in beautiful settings filled with pleasure. The Art Deco movement was soon in full swing, and he often used geometric frames to showcase his work.
After Carmel Snow took over as editor-in-chief at Harper’s Bazaar, de Meyer’s photography style was on the way out. After the invention of Kodachrome film, the surrealism movement took over fashion photography, especially in the work of Andre Breton and Man Ray. They were two of the first fashion photographers to start editing photos using solarization, overprinting, juxtapositioning of color transparencies.
Many others have impacted the fashion photography industry, including Peter Rose Pulham, Andre Durst, George Platt Lynes, and Cecil Beaton.
The importance of photography in fashion
From its earliest beginnings, photography has been essential in fashion for several reasons. Fashion photography helps to establish a brand’s voice. It also helps entice customers into a physical location or helps them get to your website, as it can be included in Google Ads and other programs. Finally, it can help people choose between different options.
Fashion designers use photography to establish their brand voice in consumers’ minds. For instance, brands can be sexy, romantic, hip, business, or revolutionary. Professional fashion photographers know the best shooting locations to create different looks. They also know how to work with natural sunlight or artificial lighting to create unique effects.
Especially when shopping online, fashion photography is vital because it gives the consumer an idea of how the outfit will fit them. Many consumers know that they want an outfit that will fit in a particular way, and a fashion photographer’s images allow them to find garments that fit the way they want.
Consumers have an emotional reaction to specific colors. A good fashion photographer understands how different colors impact a consumer’s choice, and they help companies get the desired emotional effect. For instance, if the company wants to make consumers think conservative and trustworthy, they will include more blues and greens in their photos.
When a company is trying to decide the best way to display an item, fashion photography can help by creating multiple choices without moving everything. This can be a massive advantage as it saves time and can also help companies decide what items they need to order to create the perfect display.
Furthermore, models looking to get into the industry need an excellent portfolio to showcase their work. A fashion photographer can take those pictures and help the models show their many facets.
What makes a good fashion photographer?
A good fashion photographer has to be a master at many things. They have to understand the company’s vibe and how it will use their photos. The photographer also must know how to work with various people. They also have to understand how to compose pictures and have mastered cameras, lighting, and processing.
A good fashion photographer must be a people person as they deal with people throughout their careers. Often, they must interact with clients so that they get quality assignments. Then, they usually must hire and direct assistants on the job to complete it in a timely and professional manner. They may also have to direct models.
Fashion photographers must have the ability to pay attention to details. For example, they must know what direction natural light is coming from and adapt to get the best images. They must also pay attention to details while editing to create the best possible photos.
While many things can be corrected in post-editing, a good fashion photographer must operate their lights and cameras seamlessly. Furthermore, they must know what other equipment they will need on a shoot and how to work it. They also need skills in using post-editing software.
Most importantly, a good photographer must be a good salesperson, and they must know how to close deals so that it is attractive to clients and beneficial to themselves. The photographer must understand non-compete agreements and be willing not to break them.
I hope you have enjoyed this overview. In the next chapter, I will dig deeper into the many different types of fashion photography, so be sure to keep reading.
The first type of fashion photography was street fashion, where photographers captured photos of people at different events, predominantly horse races. It was not long until models were sent to some of these events and high-end fashion photography was created. As publications like Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and Cosmopolitan started being published, they hired photographers to create unique brand voices.
Soon, other types of photography were added to the mix. In all, there are at least eight types of fashion photography that you can choose to specialize in. Knowing the different types and comparing them to your interests can help you decide which kind of photographer you want to be or if you run a clothing company, it can help you locate the correct type of photographer.
Street fashion photography
Street fashion photography attempts to capture the essence of what people living and working in urban environments are wearing and how they are styling it. The heart of street fashion photography is to allow individuals to see themselves wearing the outfit promoted through the photo.
This style of photography was first popularized in about 1970 by Bill Cunningham, but he started getting recognition for his work in about 2005. Today, many street fashion photographers are social media influencers, like:
- Scott Schuman – Better known as hesartorialist, this photographer who left a job in the fashion industry to take care of his daughter has traveled the world shooting and posting pictures of people he sees on the streets.
- Acielle – Better known as Style Du Monde, she founded Belgium’s first fashion website in 2008, and she has traveled the world taking pictures of people on the street.
- Matthew Sprout – Often working in black and white, Matthew Sprout started his street fashion photography after a failed athletic career.
- Phil Oh – Better known as Mrstreetpeeper, has traveled the world taking photos that often appear in Vogue.
Editorial fashion photography
These fashion photos often accompany text, helping to tell a story. In some cases, the image appears without any text but adds to the meaning of a theme or concept. They may use one style, such as close-up or a combination of styles, to tell a story. The photos may showcase one brand or multiple brands.
One of the most famous editorial fashion photographers was Man Ray, who did a lot to perfect solarization in photography. Consider the work of these famous editorial fashion photographers includes as examples:
- Tim Walker – This fashion photographer whose work has appeared in Vogue, W and Love is best known for his heightened sense of imagination and whimsicalness.
- Steven Meisel – This fashion photographer often used his work to draw the viewer to consider the higher meaning of life.
- Paolo Roversi – His dreamlike fashion photography encouraged people to view colors and textures.
- Peter Lindbergh – This photographer’s use of black and white forced viewers to consider subject matters carefully.
- Bruce Weber – This photographer’s male portraits showing lots of skin was new and controversial, proving that a concept that has not been done before can still be relevant.
High fashion photography
High fashion is the use of supermodels, well-known athletes, and other recognizable faces to sell clothing, accessories, and fragrances through the use of images. This is one of the oldest forms of fashion photography and was at least practiced by the Seeberger brothers as early as 1910. These photoshoots often turned into a professional relationship with the famous person who would ask the photographer to photograph them numerous times. In many cases, those photographs appeared on the cover of magazines.
Over the years, there have been many iconic high fashion photographs. Consider these examples:
- Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg appeared in an image for Calvin Klein. Herb Ritts created the iconic image.
- Gisele Bündchen’s fully nude photo taken by Patrick Demarchelier was the first nude photo to appear in Harper’s Bazaar, and it launched her career.
- Princess Di’s iconic photos that showed her natural beauty was captured by Mario Testino for Vanity Fair.
- RuPaul, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gisele Bündchen, Richard Avedon, and Princess Diana have all had their pictures taken by Patrick Demarchelier.
- Many of Madona’s most iconic photographs were taken by Steven Meisel, who always tried to add a little mystery to his images.
Catalog fashion photography
Many fashion photographers start fashion photography by doing catalog fashion photography. There is still a huge need for photographers who photograph products for large and small companies to include in their print and digital catalogs. While models are often used, the focus of the shoot is the clothing. Photographers usually use a solid background for these photos.
While I will have a lot more to add in a little bit about each of these items, catalog fashion photographers need to focus on many things, including:
- Lighting – Catalog fashion shoots are usually done indoors under artificial lighting conditions.
- Camera – You need a DSLR camera as you will need to control many different things, including aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
- Lenses – You may need a variety of standard and telephotic camera lenses.
Of course, you will also need a model in many cases. When choosing a model, consider the company’s target audience. For instance, if the target audience is young women, your grandmother is probably not an appropriate model.
Lookbooks allow people to see themselves wearing the clothes pictured in the image. While product photography is usually shot against a white-or-neutral-colored background, lookbook photography captures an entire scene. Fashion houses use lookbooks to encourage customers to purchase or add items to their cart that they might not otherwise purchase by seeing them stylized in an image.
Lookbook fashion photography is usually done after a careful planning process. That process usually includes:
- Determine the budget – Different companies will have unique budgets based on their location, needs, and how many days they need to hire you for.
- Create a mood board – Determine the shoot’s mood based on the brand’s voice. Then, head to Pinterest and other locations to find possibilities that fit that voice.
- Book the necessities – You will need to book a location, which may involve paying a fee, along with models, stylists, and your backup help.
- Create a shot list- Since time is limited, you will want to create a list of images you need to capture.
- Shoot and edit – You need to be present with the product and get the ball rolling towards your post-editing work.
Vintage fashion photography
You can do vintage fashion photography in at least two different ways. One way is to search for photos representing what your client is looking for to express an idea. These photos will need to be in the public domain, or you will need to secure their copyright. Then, spend time editing them to meet the client’s needs even better.
The second way to do vintage fashion photography is to take new fashion photos using vintage equipment. You may want to shoot on a slide or film. Keep in mind that most film ISO is slower than digital ISO. Therefore, you may need to adjust the aperture and shutter speed of the camera. When doing these shots, you need to choose a location that looks like the setting from a previous period. A little historical context goes a long way when doing vintage fashion photography.
Creative fashion photography
Creative fashion photography requires you to think outside the normal process. Then, you need a space to design and create your idea before editing it with software.
One area that fashion photographers think about when doing creative work is lighting. You may want to use shadows to create a unique image. Another area that they think about is color. For example, you may want to:
- Use circles, squares, or other geometric shapes to emphasize a fashion’s design.
- Create a particular emotion through the use of color.
- Emphasize a particular point through the use of white space.
- Build a creative set that will invoke an emotion.
- Use white space to emphasize a particular point.
- Build settings in a studio or outside.
- Pose models in unique positions to draw attention to an outfit’s design features.
I hope you have enjoyed learning about these different specializations within fashion photography. In the next chapter, I will discuss the equipment you need to be a fashion photographer, so you will want to make sure to keep reading.
If you have been doing other types of photography, then you may already have some of this equipment on hand. You may want to rent different choices to see which works best for you before buying anything new.
Once you make a purchase, remember to take good care of it to last a long time. This is a common mistake that new photographers often make because they get in a hurry. Before they realize it, their equipment has gotten broken, misplaced, or lost. Generally, you will need lights, a camera, lenses, and sets.
You can do fashion photography outside using natural light or inside the studio. If you are going to do it inside, consider using a single light source with a reflector. The best reflector is usually a 32 to 42 inches five-in-one reflector. This setup will allow you to light up one side of your model more than the other and make your model look more natural. If the light causes the model to cast a shadow on the background, move the model a little bit forward.
The most straightforward setup is to use an octagon softbox at least 47-inches in diameter. Set the light at a 45-degree angle in front of the model. Since this is a large light source, you may not need to use your reflector because the light will wrap around the model. Watch how the light falls on the model as you move it until you are happy with the results.
Setting your lights up in this way will allow everything to be in crisp focus, but if you want to create a more mellow mood, choose a smaller light source, like a 2-foot by 3-foot softbox. The setup remains the same, with the model being placed at a 45-degree angle to the model.
Several DSLR cameras on the market will do you a terrific job in fashion photography. Make sure to choose a full-frame camera as the image that you see if the viewfinder will be the image that is captured on the photo.
Creating a blurred background with a full-frame camera is also much easier than with a crop-sensor camera. If you can afford it, then go with a medium format camera to offer more depth of focus.
Pick a camera that has image stabilization, even if you plan on shooting using a tripod. Cameras that provide eye-tracking software are a great option. Choose an option with at least 42 megapixels, as it will allow you to capture more detail in your product fashion images.
Try renting a camera that allows you to use it easily. You should be able to reach the main settings without any effort. Therefore, it is often best to rent a camera before purchasing one to see which one is more intuitive to the way you think. I will have more to say about this in a little bit, but you will need to choose lenses that work with your particular camera.
The type of fashion photography you do, along with choosing a full-frame or crop-sensor camera, will determine what type of lenses you need. You will also want to keep the camera’s manufacturer in mind because most lenses are not interchangeable.
For the most part, you will want a prime lens that is 50-millimeters. This lens is ideal for shooting most indoor fashion models and can help shoot outdoor shots, staying about the same distance away from the model. Choose a lens with an aperture setting between f1.2 and f1.8 as they provide a good depth of focus. Choosing a lens with a higher aperture allows more light to enter the camera.
While it is true that a prime lens will always provide a better image than a telephoto lens, if you want one lens that will accommodate most fashion photography work, choose a 24–75-millimeter lens with at least an f2.8 aperture.
Photographers shooting runway and red-carpet shots often use this lens because it allows them to shoot multiple types of images without changing lenses. Always consider what lens you can shoot with comfortably to bring a tripod, monopod, ball head, quick release plate.
You will need to choose a background for your fashion photography shoot. If you are working in the field, you may want to consider unique outdoor locations, such as stairways, patios, and gardens. You may also want to think about parks, including state and national ones. Some attractions around your city can also be a fabulous choice.
If you are working in your studio, using a white or gray background is the most popular choice. You may also want to use more elaborate backgrounds filled with many props. In some types of fashion photography, such as street fashion photography, you may not get to choose the background. Yet, you can opt to stand in different places for a bit of control.
Regardless, if you are working inside or out, make sure that the background does not detract from the clothing as it is the main subject in fashion photography. I will have much more to say about choosing an excellent location in a future chapter. There are several key concepts that I will share on choosing a great background that you will not want to miss.
This chapter has given you a general overview of fashion photography and the necessary equipment. In the next chapter, I will dive deeper into each of these ideas, so you will want to keep reading. Even if you have some experience in fashion photography, I hope you come away with some new knowledge that you can apply.
Here are some tips to help you get started down the road to being one of the best fashion photographers. You will grow and learn as you go along, so consider this the very basics.
While taking catalog pictures is often mostly about technical skills, other forms of fashion photography are about knowing your equipment well enough to let your creativity show through. Suppose you take a look at great fashion photos, like Melvin Sokolsky’s Bubble fashion photos where the models appear inside bubbles or his fly series where the models seem to be flying through the air. In that case, you realize that the best fashion photographers are highly creative.
That level of expertise, however, does not come without a lot of practice and work. If you are just getting started, keeping some tips in mind can help.
Find the Right Models
Before you can find a suitable model, you must know who the company considers its target audience to be because you want that audience to see themselves wearing the clothes easily.
For instance, if you are doing fashion photography for Victoria’s Secret, then a tall and slender model may be a perfect choice. Alternatively, if you are shooting for Lane Bryant, you may want a chunkier model.
Once you understand the brand’s voice, you may want to hire models from a local modeling agency as they are comfortable in front of a camera. On lower-budget shoots, advertising on social media may be enough, especially if you have friends who would like to build their portfolio.
Choose a Variety of Poses
One of the biggest tips you can practice when working with a model is to keep them moving. You never know what will suddenly work and give you that once-in-a-lifetime magic image.
Encouraging models to turn a little bit towards the camera or a little bit away from it is a great place to start. As a photographer, it is your job to direct the model. Consider making a list of poses to try, including:
- Slight leans against a wall.
- Bring a hand toward the face.
- Learn on a chair or other object.
- Head tilts.
- Look over your shoulder.
Try Different Camera Angles
In most fashion photography, you will position the camera to face the model and chest high, but that need not always be the case. Shooting models from a low angle can make the model seem more powerful. It can also make the legs look longer, and the model appears bigger.
You may also want to consider shooting from a high angle. This allows you to capture more of the background, which can be a great asset when shooting outdoor clothing in a beautiful location. Having the model lay at an angle on the ground adds vibrancy to the image.
Experiment With Black and White Fashion Photography
Working in black-and-white often allows you to get more creative with your photography. These photos are often ideal for provoking emotions in the viewer’s mind. Remember that black-and-white photography often brings out more skin blemishes, so be sure you are working with a great makeup artist.
These photos are great at showing contrast within and between outfits. Make creative use of white space when shooting without using color. Additionally, ensure that you have enough lighting because shadows are even more noticeable in black-and-white photography.
Make the Most Out of the Background
Using great backgrounds is key to taking great fashion photographs. Think about creating contrasts between the clothing and the background. For instance, if the outfit has a bold pattern, choose a simple background and vice versa.
It is usually best not to put the subject right in the center of the photo. Instead, think of the image as a tic-tac-toe board. Then, position the model where two lines intersect. Additionally, use lines and curves in the background to move the viewer’s attention toward the outfit.
Decide on a Location
Usually, shooting in a location is cheaper and lends itself to more posing options than working in a studio. You will want to choose a site away from traffic and other distractions. Keep in mind that weather can make you change your dates or time of day. If you are working with celebrity models, you may need to provide security.
There are also advantages to working in a studio. You have more control over the environment. The photoshoot will be more private, and it is easier to make sure everything is secure. You will need to work harder to create natural effects, and you will have higher costs.
Highlight the Fashion
Unlike portraits, it is vital to highlight the clothes. Therefore, you should ensure that the background, lighting, and other details do not distract from the outfit. You also need to ensure that any props or things you add to the photo do not obstruct the outfit’s details.
Additionally, ensure that you are close enough to the outfit that the details and patterns show crisply. In some cases, you may want to play with bokeh or other details to move the viewer’s eyes to design elements. Showing how the outfit moves freely through your photography can be essential.
Compose Your Photo Carefully
Each photo that you take should add to a continual theme. Unlike a novel, the images will typically not have a beginning, middle, and end. At the same time, the photos should tell a cohesive story.
It may help to study the work of other fashion photographers, and I have tried to include many examples in this article. Then, jot it down in a notebook when you see a theme that you like. When you get time, explore the ones that interest you most by using them to create mood boards. This can help you be ready for a fashion photography event when you hurry.
I hope you now have a better idea of capturing the best fashion photos. In the next chapter, we will take a deeper dive into what you should do and not do when taking fashion photos.
As a fashion photographer, you do not operate in a bubble. Therefore, you must network with others to move your career forward. Be kind to everyone you meet on your journey because you never know who they can influence. Spend time building relationships with others in the field and take away what you can from their experiences so that you do not have to learn those lessons the hard way.
Additionally, make sure you are staying plugged into the latest trends in the fashion industry. This allows you to have photos in your repertoire when editors are most likely to be looking for them.
Do keep it simple
The more moving parts there are in a fashion shoot, the more likely something will go wrong. Therefore, make sure to keep your photos as simple as possible. While it can be great fun to play with elaborate photos on your own time, keep it simple when you are doing fashion photography for someone else. Most fashion photography for catalogs and lookbooks are shot with a single light and reflector or two lights in a studio against a white or gray background.
Do know what permits you need
Each state has unique requirements to operate a business. It is your responsibility to know those requirements and have the proper licenses to run your business. Additionally, you may need to pay additional fees to shoot professionally in some locations. For example, in national parks in the United States, you may have to pay a user’s fee of up to $250 per day.
Even some private gardens and other facilities require you to pay a fee to use their location. They may also limit your access to certain areas. For example, it is strictly against park rules to take commercial photos at Disneyland. If you are working for yourself, make sure to calculate those fees in your budget.
Do pick the right camera
As I covered earlier, you should choose with a full-frame camera when doing fashion photography. Choose a camera that has image stabilization as this helps to eliminate camera shake when you are taking photos. Opt for an option that has red-eye reduction and will not take a picture if the model’s eyes are closed to eliminate unnecessary images.
There is no need to buy a camera with a really fast shutter speed or fireworks mode because you are taking carefully controlled photos. Ensure that the camera will work with your lights and other equipment.
Do experiment with different lenses
If you are shooting in a studio, you need a great 50-millimeter prime lens, but don’t overlook getting creative with different lenses. Since you are focusing on the outfit instead of the model, always choose a lens that accurately captures the outfit’s details.
Invest or rent the best lenses that you can get for your camera. Use a lens filter on the end of the lens to help you control the amount of light entering the camera. For the most part, you will want neutral density filters varying in strength from N2 to N4.
Don’t mix natural and artificial light
Shooting in mixed light can be very difficult. If you must do this, make sure that you manually set your color temperature. Do not trust your eyes, but use a gray card to determine what temperatures you need to be shooting in. This can help to eliminate a lot of post-editing work. Furthermore, ensure that you fill unintended shadows with light. You can often accomplish this by using a reflector to bounce your primary light source into dark places.
Don’t stand still
Especially when working outdoors, try moving your position. That may mean walking across the street to get the perfect shot on a busy street. It may also mean finding a way to take the photo from a higher or lower angle. This is one of the primary reasons you need to scout out a location before doing a photoshoot.
Additionally, make sure that your model does not stand still. When the model is constantly twisting and turning, you will inevitably capture the outfit at different angles, and one of them may be the best image of the shoot.
Don’t misrepresent the brand’s voice
Each company has a unique brand voice. When a company hires you for a fashion shoot, you must represent its brand voice. If the company does not have written guidelines, talk to the person hiring you and scope out the internet to identify their brand voice. Then, create mood boards that you feel represent that voice. You may even want to share your mood boards with the client. Finally, create a shot list using the ideas on your mood board.
Don’t overlook your background
Often fashion photography calls for a plain background. This is especially true in fashion advertising, where the company wants to add words to your image. You will also want to choose a background that compliments the colors found in the outfits. For example, if the outfit is red, then you may want a green background or a background with yellow-green and blue-green in it. Avoid any background that is too busy. You will need to decide how much of your background you want to leave crisp and how much blur is appropriate.
Don’t forget about balance
You need to think about creating balance in your photograph because the lack of balance creates tension and disharmony. One principle that you can use is to create a symmetrical image. In other words, if you drew a vertical line down the middle of your image, what is present on one side is also present on the other side. If you are doing black-and-white fashion photography, then the darkest tone in your image should be the same size as all other tones in your photo.
Don’t work without staying hydrated
Especially if you will be working outdoors for several hours, take time to stay hydrated and remind everyone else involved in the shoot to stay hydrated as well. Everyone will work harder when they are adequately hydrated, so taking time to get a drink of water can help you complete the shoot faster.
When people become dehydrated, emotions tend to flair, which can be detrimental to good communication between you and the model. Finally, when you become dehydrated, you will have trouble thinking clearly, making it much harder to be creative and solve any issues that arise on the shoot.
I have so enjoyed sharing these dos and don’ts with you. In the last chapter, I will be covering how to edit your photos once you have taken them. Post-editing work is as important as taking the right image, so be sure to keep reading.
In fact, some will admit that they only keep about 10% of the photos that they take on the average fashion shoot. While it takes a lot of work to get a great image, it is only the beginning. Then, you must do the post-shooting work. In this chapter, we will be deep diving into that process.
What software can you use to retouch your fashion photos?
In 1826, the first photo was taken. Just 15 years later, William Henry Fox Talbot patented the first photo-editing software. Soon, his coworker Calvert Richard Jones used the process to remove a Capuchin monk from a group of four others so that it looked like the group was more cohesive.
Ever since photographers have been using photo-editing software to enhance their images. You will want to use it too.
Photoshop was the go-to program for every photographer for many years, but they have lost some ground. At the same time, there are some great reasons to use this program that Microsoft initially introduced in 1987.
This program has many design tools that you will enjoy using. This allows fashion photographers to create new works in the program that you will not believe came from the original. The integrated stock library makes adding a new background, foreground, or other elements to any photo.
Those who spend hours editing photos love Photoshop, but it can be intimidating for new users. If you are working with massive files, like for billboards, you may see some decrease in image quality. This program is not lightweight, so keeping the program and your images on a separate hard drive is better. This program easily incorporates raster and vectors, making it the perfect program for fashion advertisers.
Get a better feeling for Photoshop by watching this video that shows the process of working in Photoshop. You can also see some of the features of this powerful program, and some of the features are only available for an additional fee.
Like Photoshop, Lightroom is offered by Adobe. This program that was first introduced in 2006 does not require you to work in layers. Therefore, many fashion photographers find Lightroom a more manageable program to use. Lightroom has a wonderful catalog system, where you can easily access photos you have taken in the past. Copies of your work are made, so the original is preserved, which is a considerable advantage if you go down the wrong path.
Unlike Photoshop, it is challenging to create a blended look from multiple layers in Lightroom. It can also be more challenging to see what you have done in the past to repeat the action. The editing on this is much simpler, but it is not as precise as Photoshop. It relies on your eyes to create curves when you change the colors, so this may not be the best option for you if you have trouble seeing exact colors.
Learn more about Adobe’s Lightroom by watching this video:
Capture One Pro
Capture One was released in 1994 as a RAW conversion and tethering tool for Phase One cameras, but it has become a powerful editing tool. You can either work with files on your computer’s hard drive or enter the photos directly into the program. The layers added to your image are easy to work with, and you can easily discard them if you do not like the result.
The program never makes changes directly to your original file, so you even have the option to start over. You are sure to love the raw image quality in this program. Some users find that they like the interface better because their image is in the middle of the screen, with other photos they have taken are on the right, and editing tools are on the left.
When you upload a RAW image to Capture One Pro, the program automatically adds some saturation and contrast, which can make your image look better from the outset. While Capture One keeps each session separate, Adobe Lightshop puts your photos into catalogs. You have the option to add meta tags to your photos in Capture one, so you can find them again, assuming you can remember what you tagged in the photo. Updates come slower for Capture One Pro, so the newest camera models are not always supported as quickly as Photoshop and Lightbox.
Watch this video to learn more:
Affinity Photo started as a raster graphics editor for Mac, released in 2015. This program is a one-time purchase, so you do not have to pay a monthly fee continually. Many find the gradient options more intuitive than in other choices. You can switch between vector and raster graphics seamlessly. Unlike other programs, you set up a grid and edit from it. The grid is complicated to get lined up with the megapixels in your photo. Affinity Photo is a much easier program to learn if you are new to editing.
You cannot export Affinity Photo files and have someone else open them with a different program. While the buttons are larger, you have to do extra clicks to complete some actions in Affinity Photo. More of the workflow is automatic in Photoshop than in this program, which can be a time saver for a busy professional or someone trying to build a fashion photography business as a second career. There are fewer plugins for this program than there are Adobe plugins.
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How to edit fashion photography?
Depending on the quality of the original photo, you may be able to get pictures ready to present to a client in three easy steps, but that is not always the case. Before showing any image to a client, you want to crop the image to precisely show what you want the client to see.
Secondly, you will want to correct your exposure. If the skin color and features seem washed out, fixing this in a photo editing program is easy.
The third step is to adjust the colors. Especially in fashion photography, it is essential to present the clothing as close as possible to its accurate color.
You may want to use other techniques to improve your image.
While most fashion photographers choose to shoot in RAW, there are other choices. It is easy in most photo editing software programs to switch between programs. Various options include:
- Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) – Very few professionals use this setting because it compresses your photos in the camera and causes you to lose image quality.
- Tag Image File Format (TIFF) – These files are much larger than JPEG files, so make sure you have enough room on your memory card. This is the highest level that some entry-level cameras will shoot in.
- Digital Negative (DNG) – If you plan to keep all your photos in RAW, take a look at this option because it allows different RAW formats to be standardized.
- Portable Network Graphics (PNG) – This program compresses files without losing quality. It also offers the ability to maintain transparency.
- Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) – The fact that this program only supports 256 colors makes it limited in its applications to photography, so leave this option for the graphic designers.
- Bitmap Image File (BMP) – This format produces large files because the color of each pixel is maintained.
- Photoshop Document (PSD) -This is the default file format for Photoshop. Be sure that you compress this huge file before saving it if you want to work with layers.
Different light sources provide unique color temperatures, so you should set your camera’s white balance before taking the photo, but sometimes you will get it wrong. When this happens, the color of clothes and skin tones can be wrong. Thankfully, you can remove those oranges and blues by adjusting the white balance while editing the photo. It does this by adding enough of the opposite color on the color wheel so that white appears natural. Then, it adjusts all other colors of white.
If you are unhappy with the highlights and the shadows in your photo, you need to adjust the image’s contrast. In most programs, you can do it globally, which allows you to adjust it across the picture. You can merge underexposed and overexposed photos in other programs until you create the right amount of contrast. While global contrast applies to the whole image, most programs also offer you the option to change an image’s contrast in a limited area.
Mid-tones are the middle 50% of the color range. If an image has too much white or too many dark colors in it without the photographer intending to set a mood, then the photo looks flat. Changing the mid-tone brightness helps to bring more life to the image. Generally, 25% of your photo should be dark tones, 50% mid-tones, and 25% light tones. If you missed it while taking the image, you adjust it as you edit.
Noise in a photo is a grainy veil covering up details in your photo. Photons in the scene create shot noise while your camera causes digital noise. Using noise reduction tools in your photo-editing software is like walking on a balance beam. On one side, you want the details in your photo to be crisp, which produces more noise, while on the other side, you want as little noise in your photos as possible. Therefore, you should use this tool very carefully while watching that you do not lose too many details, especially in the fashion house’s clothing.
Image masking is a handy tool when editing fashion photos. It allows you to apply adjustments to only one area of your picture while leaving the rest untouched. Many fashion photographers use it around the model to add highlights that will make the outfit pop.
Many different tools can be used in conjunction with image masking, including noise reduction, color correction, and image brightness. This adjustment is usually only available in image editing software that works with layers. It allows you to separate the photo into different layers, such as foreground, mid-ground, and background, and treat them separately before merging them back again by flattening the image.
Dodging and burning
If you want to lighten certain photo areas, then use the dodge tool. Likewise, if you will make certain areas of your photo darker, then use the burn tool. Both are outstanding options to draw attention to a particular area of your image by adding additional contrast while leaving other areas untouched. Since there is more contrast, the viewer’s eyes are naturally drawn to that area, which can help emphasize a model’s clothing, which is the purpose of fashion photography.
We have covered a lot of ground in this post. I hope you have enjoyed learning more about fashion photography. If you have any questions, be sure to post them to provide you with a great answer.
If you know a young person or a person looking for a career change, please share this post with them. Being a fashion photographer may be a great career move.
Even if you decide not to be a fashion photographer, I hope that the next time you look at a fashion image in a periodical or on the internet, you have a better idea of some of the work that went into making that picture.
Please read our other posts to stay up-to-date on all types of fashion.