How to Start a Fashion Photography Business
How to submit and sell photos to magazines
The business of fashion photography is, like any other business, devoted to presenting in the best light possible a product or service and fashion photography is no different.
In essence, the genre is dedicated to presenting fashion, accessories, and products in a way that awakens an urge for consumers to go buy them.
The emphasis is to place the new fashion line or accessories in the mind of as many people as possible.
The principal markets for fashion photography are magazines and advertisement campaigns. Today most fashion photographers will conduct their session in exotic locations, such as beaches, ruins, green open spaces and so on.
The photographs are designed to invoke a feeling not only by the product itself but by the location. Learn what outfits, location, props will make an impact in the final print by shooting many set ups and post judge for their effectiveness in doing what you want.
Fashion photo shots can also be applied to various industries, such as a trendy casual comfortable outfit used in a fitness magazine or nutrition article or photographs of trendy accessories used by themselves in an in-store advertising campaign.
Entering the world of fashion photography is probably one of the hardest markets in which to make it big. But it is not impossible.
- A portfolio with several samples of your best work is paramount. Typical samples that should be in your portfolio are: casual fashion, business attire, swimwear, high fashion, lingerie, full body, half body and head shots. Include shots in black and white as well as color.
Once your portfolio is assembled, you must begin approaching fashion editors and ask for their submission guidelines. If your portfolio is well received, they may ask you to submit photos of specific assignments for which you will be provided with leads, sometimes with a paid advance but in the majority of the cases, you will be paid once the story comes to print.
- Another step to take is to sign up with a well known photography agency which in turn will submit your work to editors and the fashion industry for a percentage of your sales. You can also approach galleries in which to showcase your work.
Most agencies and galleries do not require an upfront fee but will usually take a proceed of your sales which can be as high as 50 percent. Well crafted and maintained web sites are very good in showcasing your work so try to build one as soon as you have enough photos.
- When submitting to editors, do your research to find out who the editor is and address all correspondence to them by name. Find out what type of work they do. Don't submit images of models in swimwear if the magazine only works with complete outfits for example.
- If you have had any of your images published or printed, then submit a copy or the actual page, this is called a tear sheet, along with a working copy of the original image. If you only work with a digital format, also have images printed.
Long lenses are not required for fashion photography, medium to short rage lenses are much better. Remember that you need to be able to showcase the clothing/fashion close enough for the viewer to see details.
It is also best to use a professional model instead of friends or relatives. The models need to fit the image of today's' fashion industry and depending on how long the model has been in business, take their advice and suggestions during the shoot.
- Hone your portrait photography skills, fashion photography is as much portraiture as it is fashion photography. Make sure that you are thoroughly familiar with lighting techniques as well. Consider working with makeup and hair stylist in your shoots. Their work is as much a reflection of your work as it is theirs. Attend as many fashion industry social events as possible and network.
- Don't shoot images in only a vertical or horizontal format or of only males or females. Cover all angles and all formats in your presentation. Static subjects are good but subjects in motion are very desirable such as a model in today's sportswear having fun with her girlfriends. Be aware of the fashion and the atmosphere.
Submitting an image of a model in winter clothes goes well if shot against a snowy background than against the backdrop of a beach, no matter how beautiful the beach is. Keep in touch with trends; submit work that is relevant with today's fashion styles.
This also includes your model's hair and makeup styles. Keep shoots simple, too much clutter will distract, yet too little will seem bland.
- Read, look and learn from photographers who have been doing this successfully for years. Do not underestimate the ideas that can be gathered from fashion magazines, use them.
The editors need to evaluate your work from all angles and in all formats. If you have a particular style, such as images with a dark background or images done outdoors, then ensure that this style is evident. An editor will rarely buy previous shots, rather their consideration is whether or not to assign future projects to you.
- 10 Tips for Breaking into Commercial Magazine Photography
The following post on commercial magazine photography is by Atlanta based photographer Zach Matthews. Learn more about him at the end of this post. Every amateur photographer who’s ever flipped through a magazine has shared the same fleeting thought:
- 40 Amazing Online Photography Magazines | Smashing Magazine
Whatever country we live in, we're probably all familiar with the well-known photography magazines available in our newsagents and bookstores. The UK has Practical Photography, France has Photo, the Italians have Zoom and the Americans have American
Keeping actively shooting and always looking for new subject matter is paramount to enhancing your skill. Always look for other samples that may appeal to you and learn from them. Want more Photography?
© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez
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