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How to Start a Fashion Photography Business

Updated on December 11, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years. Hope you enjoy my hubs!

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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.


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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?

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© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez


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    Post Comment

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      jainismus; Thanks you

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      4 years ago from Pune, India

      Fashion photography is glamorous type of photography, every photographer would like to work in this field.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      fashion industry: Thank you

    • fashion industry profile image

      fashion industry 

      4 years ago from United States

      That first photograph certainly is colorful. And her eyes, can put people in a trance.

    • jamiesweeney profile image


      7 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Great hub, Nice picture.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      Your article reminds me how much the techniques and methods of varied disciplines and fields are much the same. My profession is English and Education. For English and composition studies we always focus on the importance of revision, and that is what your article is about, although from the perspective of the fashion and advertising industries.

    • tlpoague profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      These are some great tips! Thanks for sharing them.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      7 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Thank you all for your insightful comments.

      They are appreciated.

    • Cogerson profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia

      another interesting and informative hub

    • Randy Behavior profile image

      Randy Behavior 

      7 years ago from Near the Ocean

      Sad that artists must conform to business rules and play the game to succeed as it is rarely their forte'.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      7 years ago from United States

      Very usual!


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