Career in fashion photography
Fashion Photography, recognized as an extremely glamorous profession, is a highly creative and well-paid career.
Fashion photographers take pictures of models wearing the latest clothes, accessories, hairstyles and make-up, for commercial use. Images may also be of fashion accessories. The photographs are used in a variety of media, including books, reports, advertisements and catalogues. This photography is undertaken in studios, and frequently in outdoor locations.
It is one area that photographers with existing careers can diversify into. The various avenues for progressing in this direction include freelancing, with or without an agent; gaining employment with a retailer, fashion publication, fashion house, advertising company, fashion manufacturer or direct mail company; or by opening one's own studio.
Daily tasks for a career in fashion photography
Typical work activities include:
- Taking photographs of models on location and in studios.
- Building up good relationships with the models, so that they can relax and work well for the camera.
- Being able to work well with studio lighting to bring out the best in skin tones and textures and colours from different fabrics.
- Working well with natural bright light (location shoots often take place in sunny places).
- Establishing good relationships with stylists, art directors, agents and fashion editors.
- Identifying and securing future assignments.
- Developing a personal, recognizable style.
Would a career in fashion photography suit you?
The attractions of fashion photography are obvious: exotic locations, plenty of foreign travel and personal publicity in fashion journals and other magazines. There is also the chance to work within the whole world of fashion and design and to associate with the glamorous people who inhabit it.
To become a fashion photographer, you need to have a keen eye for aesthetic detail, a thorough knowledge of cameras and the technicalities involved in taking pictures, of light, distance and perspective. You should be inventive with the ability to visualize and communicate your ideas. At the same time, you need strong interpersonal skills in order to work with models and be sensitive to their moods.
Although entry to this career is possible, you first need to have developed a name for yourself and to have accumulated considerable experience in mail order or editorial and advertising work.
As well as artistic flair, you need to be extremely confident and have the persistence to gain the work. Stamina is needed for coping with long hours and uncomfortable conditions. Freelance photographers need technical proficiency, whether gained through a degree programme, vocational training, or extensive work experience.
Salary and prospects in fashion photography
Very few photographers get to work with the exclusive agencies that deal with the top fashion work. Those who succeed in attracting enough work to earn a living are likely to be the most creative, who are able to adapt to rapidly changing technologies, and are adept at operating a business. They are also excellent at building and retaining relationships with other professionals.
Entry level positions are rare, so gaining a position as a photographer's studio assistant is desirable. A college degree in photography and a strong portfolio is usually essential. Increasingly, photographers need to know how to use computer software programs and applications that allow them to prepare and edit images.
Photographers should develop an individual style of photography to differentiate themselves from the competition. Some photographers enter the field by submitting unsolicited photographs to magazines.
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