The Complete Guide to Fashion Photography : 114 Tips

The Complete Guide to Fashion Photography : 114 Tips

Fashion photography is everywhere. You will see hundreds of images a day of men and women dressed-up (or down), showcasing clothing, accessories and footwear. It is one of the biggest, most profitable areas of photography.
The world of fashion photography is fast-paced. It focuses on portraiture, posing, extensive lighting and beautiful locations.
This genre is evolving and changing as many photographers find their own aesthetic.
You may have heard of Mario Testino, Jurgen Teller, Nick Knight or Helmut Newton. But there are thousands of other photographers trying to make a name for themselves.
Like most areas, you need time and patience to learn. If you would like to read more about a fashion photographer’s life, see our interview with Kitty Gallannaugh here.
If you’re interested in learning all about fashion photography, from equipment to poses to post-processing, keep reading this guide.

Camera Equipment

Camera equipment in fashion photography is important. But it all depends on what you are doing with the final images. Are they for editorial purposes?
Will they be blown up and shown on the side of buildings? Or is the sole purpose to be shown on social media for the online world?
All these questions influence your equipment needs.

How to Choose the Perfect Camera for Fashion Photography

Like most areas of photography, there is no perfect camera. There might be a perfect camera for you, and there might be a perfect camera for the kind of fashion photography you would like to do.
In this diverse genre, lighting, clothing and hair and makeup might be more important than the camera itself. Here, we will run through the best picks of DSLR.
There are other types of camera that many professional photographers use, such as medium or large format.
Choosing the right camera for fashion photography

Full Frame Vs. Cropped Sensor

DSLRs and mirrorless cameras can come with a full-frame or crop sensor. Full frame sensors shoot using a ‘full’ sensor. These are closer in size to the 35mm film equivalent. The crop sensor in comparison ‘crops’ into the image. A crop sensor is lower in price but comes with a lower quality of image.
The sensor also affects your lenses, which is why the images become ‘cropped’. Using an APS-C camera system, a 100mm lens works as a 160mm lens due to the Canon crop factor magnification of 1.6x (Nikon is 1.5x).
This is a great advantage to turn a zoom lens into a telephoto lens but at a compromise of fine details in the image.
Specific lenses need to be used to keep that same focal length, such as the Canon 24mm f/2.8 STM.
This article will give you more information on these two types of camera, and why they are important.
An image showing the difference between a crop and full frame sensor

12 Tips for Smartphone Fashion Photography

As this photographer points out, a lot of people feel that they do not have the right equipment. It is easy to forget that at the end of a day, a camera is a camera.
When it comes to fashion photography, the lighting, hair/makeup and post-processing make the image. Whether you photograph with a $600 or $6000 camera, you still need many other elements.
Photographing with an iPhone nowadays is a go-to option. This will allow you to photograph in a studio or hit the streets. Some of the latest smartphones have exceptional cameras. Meaning you don’t need to buy more unless you want to.
A portrait of a woman using a smartphone for in studio fashion photography

Fashion Photographer’s Tool Kit

Apart from your camera gear and lenses, there are other things you will need. Chances are you won’t only be photographing in the studio, but outside of your own work zone.
Fashion shows would be obvious choices of where else to photograph. This is an area where a monopod becomes very handy. This is great if you don’t have space for a tripod (you won’t).
Also, using a vertical grip frame, which doubles up as a battery pack, would be a great help. It even holds a Speedlite, or two if you have muscles.
A photogaph of an on-camera flash unit for fashion photography

The Best Choice in Lenses

35mm Lenses For Fashion Photography

Many people swear by their 50 mm lens. But what about 35 mm? This is still a popular choice for street and fashion photographers alike.
Probably because it gives you a good working distance. It allows you to get close, but not so close that you make the subject anxious.
35 mm means you can also fit into a studio, as most are converted spare rooms. Perfect for small cramped spaces where you can’t step back.
The 35 mm lens tends to be a little more expensive than a 50 mm. This is partly due to complex mechanics inside the lens. Have a look at this article for more information and how the 35 mm gives the 50mm a run for its money.
A 35mm lens for fashion photography

Prime vs Zoom

The age-old argument of prime lenses versus zoom lenses. There is no simple answer. They both offer you something a little bit different. Comparing an 85 mm prime lens to a 70-100 zoom lens is only similar in the way that they both shoot at an 85 mm focal length.
Yet, the 85 mm prime lens will be sharper and will house a faster, larger f/stop, such as f/1.4. The zoom, although versatile is less likely to have such a large aperture. The quality when shooting at 85 mm might not be as sharp either.
Have a look at our article to see why we recommend both if you can afford it.
A prime and zoom lens for fashion photography

Which Lens Do I Need? From Fisheye to Super Telephoto

This extensive guide shows you every different lens there is that you can use for fashion photography. Each lens will give your images a different and unique look. So get tout here and experiment.
A guide to different lenses to use for fashion photography

Camera Settings

There are no magic camera settings that will take that perfect picture for you. Luckily, you can set your camera up to meet you at least halfway.
The main thing you should do (and continue to do all the time) is to always shoot in raw. This stores more photographic data in the image and gives you more ‘play’ in post-processing.
Use the single shot setting, not burst. This seems counterproductive when you have a fast-moving subject which you definitely need to capture. But, keeping your finger on the button means you can not frame and re-frame as needed. It will also eat up your hard drive space like a champ.
White balance is very important. This is something you need to do before the show has started, not when the show is in full swing. Be a scout and make sure you are prepared.
In-camera settings for fashion photography

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important areas to consider in fashion photography. Whether you are are using a studio space or photographing with natural lighting. Even using a simple set-up with one Speedlite needs preparation and practise.

Best Lighting To Start With

There are many different lighting systems available. Big, powerful units like strobes would be used in a studio and plugged into the wall.
Smaller versions, known as Speedlites, are portable and run off AA battery power. This thorough article gives you all the information you need to get started.
An LED light and speedlight for fashion photography

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