5 Step Fashion Photography Guide for Beginners

Glamour and fashion photography is one of the most dreamed niches of photographic professions. Most the people think that fashion photographers make loads and loads of money. Some people (mostly men) find it an attractive profession because fashion photographers get to constantly work with models.

But how amazing this field really is? What are the common misconceptions and what is the truth? Let’s check it all out today.

And, apart from everything else, let’s not forget to basic tips for this type of photography. These tips are handy not only for photographers thinking of taking on fashion photography professionally, but also for anyone who wants to brush up their basic photography skills.

Life of a Fashion Photographer

Fashion Photographer

Photo courtesy of Master Sam

Let me start this post by pointing out all the negative aspects of this industry first… because I presume that you already know the perks. The perks include the glitz and glamour of fashion industry, meeting the rich and famous from showbiz and bragging that you are a fashion photographer. But a fashion photographer’s life does not begin here. In the beginning is quite humble especially this particular niche of photography.

First thing anyone interested in fashion photography needs to understand is that 90% of fashion photographers don’t make as much money as one would think. Here are the cruel statistics:

Fashion Photographer Salaries

According to indeed.com, an average fashion photographer only makes about $38,000 while a common wedding photographer makes $102,000, that’s about three times more than an average fashion photographer.

Wedding Photographer Salaries

And there’s more to it. You can start wedding photography with just a camera but fashion photography is NOT like that. It’s a a studio-based photography field so you need to have some investment to build a studio.

The best place to be living for doing fashion photography is California where an average fashion photographer makes $68,000 per year, about two-times the amount an average fashion photographer makes in the rest of the United States of America.

Fashion photographers usually get paid on per hour/day basis. So, what they get paid hugely depends on their portfolio, clientele and the model they are working with

If you are thinking of becoming a fashion photographer, make sure you are in it for the long haul, make sure you do not get discouraged easily and make sure you have a passion for it. Eventually, your work and your passion will pay off, but it will not happen instantly. You will be able to proudly tell that you work with the celebrities and you get paid for that very well… but it will only happen after some long long years.

Fashion Photography Tips for Beginners

Now let’s begin what this article was really about, the fashion photography tips.

1. Create a Concept

Concept based fashion photography

Concepts in Fashion Photography

Concept based fasion photo

First photo is by Ulrich, second one is by James Hickey and third one is by Herb Ritts.

Usually photographs rely only on expression, but in fashion photographs one can really go over the board. This is a place where eccentricity is normality. So you should never just t just walk into the studio with empty hands and mind.

Carry some inspirational material with you. There are loads of magazines and catalogs that provide inspiration material for fashion photographers. You should have them with you. In photography, you lose your creative touch sooner than you thought, so inspiration is a necessity. Before taking the shots, you should have a concept in mind that what do you want to achieve.


  • Create concepts, go crazy.
  • Keep inspiration material with you.
  • Prepare multiple concepts so you have options later on.

2. Stay Active

Fashion Photoraphy Tips

The studio environment easily gets dull. Make sure you keep it energetic. If the model is even a little bit bored, his/her expressions will show it and your photos will be substandard.

Keep moving, stay animated, speak, show energy, show adrenaline. If you love this field, you’ll be doing it automatically, but if you are quite and slow-moving person, you’ll have to change your attitude.

Your energy will transform into the model and she/he’ll be able to give you the shot that will make you famous. Move, move to find right angles. Just keep on shooting and keep on moving.


  • Stay energetic, take two cups of coffee if you have to, but stay energetic.
  • Stay animated, keep moving, keep clicking.
  • Keep talking and keep emitting energy so that the model picks it up as well.

3. Models are Stupid

“I don’t think about anything too much . . . If I think too much, it kind of freaks me out!” – Pamela Anderson spills her secret to success.

Okay, now let’s talk about the stuff that will make some people mad. Beauty and brains is a rare combination, especially in the modeling world. When you create a shot in your mind, you need to direct your model properly and gently so that he/she can assume that posture for you.

There are a few models who have a lot of brains as well – I really admire Tyra Banks for her intelligence – but such models are just rare gems. Most of them need your support.


  • Visualize your shot clearly.
  • Models need to be directed with gently.
  • You need to be good communicating your mind.

4. Preparations

Fashion photography studio

If you want to add a narrative in your shot, you can use props. Get these props ready and you should have rehearsed with them before the big day.

While you set up the backgrounds and other elements (props etc.) make sure that they match the clothing i.e. fashion. In case of props, use multiple focal points. Focus on the eyes and focus on the props.


  • Use props to add narrative.
  • Rehearse with props and makeup before the day of the shoot.
  • Set your focus on the props and the eyes.

5. Discover Yourself

Discover yourself quote by Buddha

Shoot a lot, of everything. There should always be a camera in your pocket. You might find a something picturesque just going to grocery store.
While shooting professionally, break the bookish rules, they were meant for it. Use high-contrasts, experiment with lights, you don’t have to get every part of the image bright light. After sometime, you’ll start to find your style. But before you see anything good, in the beginning, several results will be disastrous, don’t be heartbroken. This happened to the very best, bad experience teaches more than a good experience.

Ending Statement

To end, I want to emphasize the last tip as the most important one. Fashion photography is not a field where anyone can make a career out of it. It is only for the passionate ones, as I said, it is only for the passion photographers.

So make sure you discover your passion, make sure you know which is your niche amongst fashion photography types and then give all your heart and soul to it.

Stay prepared for discouragement because the first few years you will not be earning anything but you’ll have to invest a lot. You’ll have to build a studio and buy state-of-the-art camera equipment. But once you go through phase-1 of your career, everything becomes easier and much more entertaining.