Beginner's Guide to Fashion Photography

Part 1: Defining Your Style 

Photographers are known for their personal style. Defining a style of work is not something that occurs overnight. It takes dedication and countless patience to achieve.  For example, everyone has seen Annie Leibovitz’s Vanity Fair, and Vogue covers over the past twenty years. Her style is recognizable at a glance, but it took years to develop and cultivate. The point is, dedication and perseverance will eventually lead to success in your craft. 

A personal style or body of work is recognizable by a universal trait; the series have a similar theme or motif highlighted by a person, place, or thing. 

There are many different styles of fashion and portrait photography. It is important for a photographer to define his or her personal style. Your style is the overall look of your work. Does your work evoke thought? Is it dark and surrealistic? Is your work moody and dark? Is it bright and happy? Is it euphoric and high-fashion? Developing a style is important for photographers to set themselves apart from the pack to gain the attention of agencies, art directors, and editors. 

One of the first questions you should ask yourself is “what do I like shooting?” What type of fashion photography do you enjoy shooting the most? Lifestyle? Beauty? High-fashion? 

Lifestyle photography is a style of portrait which aims to capture real-life events, and situations in an artistic manner. Warm, happy, smiley, energetic, and peppy are all adjectives which describe lifestyle photography. Whenever I think of lifestyle photography, I think of people laughing around a table at a trendy restaurant, or running nonchalantly through a sun-kissed meadow. They almost always seem to be smiling and having a good time. This style of work is not typically my first choice. I enjoy being more expressive and dramatic with my work. Not that I have anything against this style of work, I respect it and admire it for many of its qualities. I have not found this style enjoyable or fulfilling for my artistic needs. 

Photo by: 

Photo by: 

Another style of fashion photography is beauty. Tight shots and close-ups of intricate makeups, perfect hair-styles, and amazing eyes. Beauty photography is one of my favorite themes of fashion photography because of its mystery. Big beauty campaigns, perfume ads, and lots of money are all things associated with this style of photography. This style is seen in every department store. Think about the cosmetic, fragrance, hair and skincare sections of store. These photos are all examples of beauty fashion photography. Its everywhere! There is a large market for beauty photographers, and this style can make you known in the industry. 

Photo copyright: Dolce and Gabbana 

Photo copyright: Dolce and Gabbana 

The final major style of fashion photography is high-fashion. Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W, and Elle are all examples of high-fashion publications. Amazingly intricate editorials with perfect lighting and top-notch styling and fashion. This style is my favorite and is what I incorporate into my work. The intricacy of the clothes, and the variety with jewelry etc all make this style so unique. There is never a limit or peak to high-fashion...there is never an end to pushing the envelope. 

I define my style as elegant and classical, with a moody and avant- garde flare. I primarily shoot fashion and portraiture for my personal work and for publications/ clients. 

It is important to figure out which style of photography you enjoy. Figuring this out will help you define your style and set yourself apart. 


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