Fashion Photographer Jobs

Fashion photographers have one of the more glamorous careers in photography; in studio or on location, they photograph fashion models, hair, makeup, accessories and shoes.

Though it has the potential for glamour and vibrancy, it is a highly competitive field and a highly coveted position. As a fashion photographer, you should be able to interpret the designer’s collection in an interesting and visually striking manner.

Fashion Photographer doing Photo Shoot with Female Model

The fashion photographer can find work shooting fashion models for catalogues, inserts, brochures or they may be commissioned to shoot for high-fashion magazines like Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar or W. Fashion photographers rarely work alone with models; during shoots, expect to work with art directors, photo editors and a handful of assistants.

What the Job Entails

The fashion photographer works closely with the client or the magazine who commissioned him, along with editors and/or art directors, to create a vision for the shoot. Essentially, fashion photographers represent designer’s work to the fashion world or to a broad public base to create a visually enticing narrative that piques interest in news styles and trends. A typical day will include photographing models on location or in a studio.

There will be some occasions during when you have to scout the location, particularly if it an unfamiliar area or if you will be shooting on difficult terrain. More importantly, you will be expected to build and maintain rapport with the model/models that you shoot. In many ways, you are the director of the model; you have to build the model’s confidence and maintain that confidence to get extract the best poses of him/her.

Career Routes

  • High-Fashion Photography: High-Fashion Photographers may work from their own studios, on location or my shoot in a studio supplied by the client. They are usually freelance photographers, so they must continually be on the lookout for new work. The high-fashion photography seen in fashion magazines is notoriously competitive and it is difficult to get that kind of work on a regular basis. Designer fashion houses also commission fashion photographers to display their new designs.
  • Catalogue Photography: The work is similar to that of high-fashion photography. Catalogue photographers work with models, art directors and other creative professionals to produce a catalogue that features clothing, shoes and/or accessories. Catalogue photographers may also find work in the supplemental inserts found in magazines and newspapers. This job offers steadier employment, but lacks the glitz and glamour of high-fashion photography.

Knowledge and Skills Required

  • Technical Expertise: Normally, fashion photographers work with digital SLR cameras when on location or in their studio. Lighting skills is especially important, since your job will be to highlight the model, clothing and shoes in an aesthetically appealing manner. You also need to be adept at post-production practices, which will include editing and touch-ups.
  • Networking Skills: Since fashion photographers are normally commissioned for work (most work on a freelance basis), it is absolutely essential that you brush up on your networking skills. This can include joining associations for fashion photographers like the newly established Professional Fashion Photography Organization (PFPO), which can offer invaluable resources and networking opportunities. Make connections with photo editors, art directors and stylists since they might also recommend you by word-of-mouth.
  • Creativity and Style: Fashion photographers, particularly those working in the high-fashion industry, have developed particular styles and are not afraid of pushing creative boundaries. Through development as a professional fashion photographer, it is important to develop a distinct and visually striking style, for you will be known for your style as much as your name.

Getting Started in Fashion Photography

Fashion photography does not require a degree of any kind, just technical expertise of photography, design, lighting and the fashion world.

Many fashion photographers get started by assisting professional fashion photographers on set or in their studio, or by working as their interns. Field experience is particularly important in the world of fashion photography. That is how you will develop the style and connections needed to flourish in this field. To build up your portfolio, work with new models on time for photos (TFP) basis. Models need shots for their portfolio and the burgeoning fashion photographer will need shots as well.

Salary reports that the average salary for fashion photographers is $52,000 as of March 2010. The lucky few, whose names appear in some of the biggest U.S. publications can earn upwards of $100,000.

Sign up for our newsletter!