Fail-Safe Fashion Photography Tips

01 Simple setup with constant light

Having the correct gear is always important, so while you might want to look at the top cameras for photography here, choosing the right lens is critical. A longer lens, which produces a compression effect and blurs the background to maintain focus on the model, is best. Lenses with focal lengths of 85mm are known as “portrait lenses,” so look for something between 70 and 105mm. Remember, if you shoot with a wide-angle lens, you will not be able to draw close to your model without distorting their features.

02 Lighting

Photography is all about light, and getting your lighting right for fashion photography is vital. This is an excellent introduction to lighting setups for photography, but do start with natural light. Shooting in the golden hour will give your images a magical glow, and you can experiment with backlighting for a unique look. Just remember to bounce some light back onto your model’s face with a reflector. If you’re shooting when the sun is higher in the sky, look for some shade to diffuse the light and soften the shadows. Again, a reflector is helpful to bounce back light and lift anywhere too dark.

The striking lighting works with the intricate detail on the clothing.

It’s also a time of day that isn’t often used for photography, meaning that it gives you the opportunity to capture unusual images and gain a unique perspective on frequently photographed subjects.

03 Highlight the Fashion

Fashion photography is meant to be about the garments, so make sure they are always the star of the show. Be sure to emphasize patterns and textures and always display outfits to their best advantage. You don’t want anything obscuring the clothing, and you don’t want anything competing with it for attention in the scene.

04 Find Motion

By introducing motion into your images, you can share the weight and texture of the garments on show. For example, if a dress or skirt is soft and flowing, have your model move so that it highlights this floatiness: run, jump, spin, and twirl. For form-fitting items, use stretches and elongated poses that accentuate curves and the figure-hugging nature of the clothing.

05 Adjust Your Angles

Shooting at eye level is great. But if you shoot from above, you can make your model appear a little more tentative or vulnerable. On the other hand, by getting down low, you create a sense of authority and strength in your model. Depending on the clothes you are trying to show off and who the intended market is, think about how you position your models to tell the fashion story.

06 Select an Appropriate Background

Your background should always seek to accentuate the clothes in your fashion shoot, not distract from them. There’s no need to shy away from busy and detailed backgrounds as they can work to tell a story, but you do need to be careful how you engage with them. Similarly, very plain backgrounds can work, but they can also leave a model looking isolated and not do anything to highlight the clothing. Keep an eye on patterns, textures and colors. Think about contrasts and complements, but always with the focus on the fashion.

07 Know Your Composition Rules

By understanding the rules of composition, you will have a firm grasp of where to position your model in the scene so that they interact with the background and show off the clothing as best as possible. Composition is a vast topic, but keep the rule of thirds, leading lines, balance and negative space in the forefront of your mind.

The complementary colors and the reflection balance this photo effectively.

08 Interact With the Environment

Fashion shoots can take place anywhere (with permission); they do not have to be in a studio. As well as ensuring your background works with the clothes in your shoot, have your models engage and interact with the shooting environment to emphasize the clothing, too. 

A beach isn’t suitable for office wear, but it’s great for children’s clothes and holiday wear. Formally laid gardens are a good setting for smart daywear. Officewear doesn’t have to be photographed in an office, but out on the streets can work. Think about where and how the clothing you’re photographing will be worn, and use these situations to bring it to life.

spring blossom suggests showers, which is perfect for a raincoat.


09 Use Props

Clothes don’t exist in isolation, so don’t be afraid of using props in your fashion shoots. You can use items such as teacups or umbrellas to give context to the clothes you’re photographing, but you can also think about introducing things that emphasize the colors and textures in the garments, too. You have the opportunity to be creative with your props: take advantage of it.

10 Tell a Story and Have a Concept

Every photo should tell a story, and a fashion photo is no exception. Remember, we all wear clothes daily, but they come within a context. To help show off the clothes in your fashion photography shoot, think about how they are meant to be worn, and show this to their intended buyers. You’re not just making the clothes look visually appealing, but you’re presenting potential purchasers with a reason to buy them, too.

11 Have Fun

Fashion photography shoots can be hard work: they can take a while with lots of changes of clothing, hair and makeup; if you’re on location, the conditions can be testing, and you need to be careful to protect your models and crew and care for the clothes themselves. But, the shoot will go much easier, and the photos will turn out far better if you make sure you have fun. Play music, chat and ensure there is sufficient food and drink. Try to keep people warm or cool as necessary. Enjoy it!

12 Seek inspiration

Authors read books; filmmakers watch films; photographers look at photos. Look at other fashion images, in magazines, in exhibitions and on photography websites to see what other professionals are doing and how they are doing it. While copying isn’t okay, drawing inspiration and gathering ideas from other people is how we learn and grow. Look at how they make their garments flow. See how they make the most of the golden hour light. Think about the backgrounds and props they use, and how the models interact with them. 

Fashion photography is always about bringing clothing to life and making it appealing. There’s far from one way of doing this–it depends on the clothes and their target market–making it a hugely diverse and creative area. So let your imagination flow and see what you can conjure.