Fashion photography is one highly competitive industry, and as with many other businesses, conventional education is not enough to get on top of the game. There is no fixed blueprint for success, but here are seven pro tips on how to break into the world of fashion as a photographer and get lucrative gigs with sought-after individuals and companies.
To be a successful fashion photographer, one must know and understand the subject of its work, so studying topics like the history of fashion, fashion terminology, current industry news, hair, and makeup trends, legendary designers, fashion icons and notable photographers is an absolute must for producing high-quality and meaningful fashion photography. Every career requires solid theoretical knowledge, and fashion image makers can get theirs by reading magazines, watching documentaries or researching on the internet.
Update Your Portfolio
Maintaining an organized and updated portfolio is imperative especially in the world of fashion and beauty because most editors will want to see a traditional portfolio before they hire someone to shoot for their magazine. Fashion photographers need to make sure that their portfolio contains only their best and preferably most recent work. Everyone gets better with time and with practice, so there is no point in keeping not-so-stellar older photographs in the portfolio just for the sake of making it appear more extensive.
Update Your Social Channels
On top of keeping a well-edited and updated portfolio, fashion photographers shouldn’t miss the chance to take advantage of all of the social media platforms out there to advertise their work for free. Another thing to keep in mind is that many editors have their eyes on social media when in need of new talents, so it’s important to keep the social presence professional and on point.
Master The Art of Photographing
To reach the top, new fashion photographers need to surround themselves with some of the best image-makers out there and learn from them. RM Instituto Moda e Design, a contemporary school located in Milan, offers a rare opportunity to learn elbow-to-elbow with leading photography experts while working on real projects. As this progressive master course in photography explains, being a photographer in the modern world requires not only strong technical skills but a mindset that is able to absorb the reality and use pictures to translate it into a meaningful story.
Learn Lightning and Retouching
Besides getting the right angles and taking shots, fashion photographers need to learn fashion lightning to get the looks they want and learn at least the basics of retouching to be able to make personal edits to their images and deliver unique work. Although there is nothing wrong with sending work to professional retouchers, every photographer needs to know how to edit photographs to make those personalized final modifications that give an individualistic touch to the final product.
Assist Other Photographers
Aspiring fashion photographers should definitely accept assisting gigs to be able to see how photo sessions are done and connect with notable people in the industry. Assisting accomplished photographers could be a way to break into the competitive fashion industry and get a chance to work with sought-after clients and companies. When getting in the role of an assistant, it’s important to maintain a professional attitude without an aggressive approach especially to people who are in higher positions. For example, assistants could connect with fellow assistants and other people from the creative crew, but they shouldn’t ask the editors out or annoy them on social media just because they met them in person.
Fashion photographers need to know influential editors, fellow photographers, and other industry professionals if they want to become the go-to person for famous magazines and popular high-end brands. Networking is the key to success in the fashion photography business, and fashion photographers should literally be walking advertisements for themselves. Whether it’s a party or a one-on-one meeting, keep business cards handy and fill your phone with your best work so you can leave your contact details to the right people and show them your work right away.
Aside from proper education and technical skills, the most important thing is to understand that fashion photography is a tough business where new photographers face rejection on a daily basis. For this reason, beginners should use every opportunity, from social media and meetings to high-quality courses, to promote their art, learn and work with the best professionals in the business and form connections that could translate into appealing job offers.