3 Photo Secrets From A Fashion Photographer


Nicole Hill


When you start out on any creative journey, there’s really no way to tell exactly where you’ll end up—and that feels especially true when it comes to photography. Until you actually pick up the camera, feel its weight in your hands, notice the texture of its dials and knobs under your fingertips, and explore the new world from it’s perspective, there’s no way to tell how your relationship with it and its art form will take shape. And this is such an amazing, freeing way to approach any new career path or creative outlet! 

Maybe you really thought you wanted to be a food photographer, but you’ve found that you only really light up behind the camera when you have someone to work with in the frame; or maybe you thought that working with models on location was totally going to be your jam, but you’ve found that you’d much rather take some macro shots of the flowers or the landscape around you. That’s all part of the journey, my gals! And what a freakin’ fun journey it is. The important thing, though, is to keep learning skills that translate seamlessly from one style of photography to another so that you can continue to develop your talents on a personal level and, as crazy as it may sound, help to expand the stylistic world of photography as a whole. Yes, you can have that big of an impact! 

So, today I want to dive into the details of the stylistic world of—you guessed it—fashion photography. While fashion photography definitely isn’t for everyone and might not even be on your creative radar as a career path option, there are still a ton of ways that thinking like a fashion photographer can help you out while you’re shooting in other styles, be it large scenic landscapes or cute puppy portraits (oh my god, wouldn’t we all love to make a living off of taking puppy portraits?).

When I was first starting out in photography, I had literally no dang idea what style, or genre, I wanted to get into—all that I knew for certain was that I wanted to shoot people. Being around people has always brought me so much joy, so being able to use my career and creative passion as a way to show people how beautiful they are was incredibly important to me. There is seriously no better feeling in the world than using photography to help someone see their own beauty and feel seen for being nothing more than who they are. 

This desire to work with people is what led me down the path toward fashion photography, partly because at the time it felt like fashion photography was a wild west without any rules and partly because I had these very specific images and feelings floating around in my mind that I wanted to bring to life. Fashion photography allowed me to create new worlds that were made up of whatever I wanted, and this freedom brought me so much happiness. Then, of course, as I learned more and more about the world of fashion photography, I quickly discovered that the rabbit hole I’d entered went far deeper than I had ever realized. So much more goes into fashion photography than I knew. I remember trying to build out my portfolio and calling my work “fashion” only to realize that I wasn’t photographing fashion at all and that the work I was presenting was never going to land me the jobs I was dreaming of. So, I pumped the creative breaks, figured out all the things I was doing wrong, and discovered just how much goes into becoming a successful fashion photographer.

So, whether becoming a fashion photographer is your dream, or you’re just looking to add a creative spin to the projects you’re working on, here are some important things you can implement into your next photoshoot to bring a little bit of a fashion element to your work, by thinking like a fashion photographer:

Emphasize the product over everything else

As a fashion photographer, your job is to capture and emphasize the fashion element of your shoot in each and every photo you take—and the fashion element is, of course, the product that your client is selling. While it can be tempting to create gorgeous, life-like scenes with people eating sandwiches at a café and loving life, the thing is you still need to make sure that you are focusing on and really selling are those killer hoop earrings that the model is wearing. You have to be mindful of the hero in your shots, the hero being whatever the product is. So, be it clothing, jewelry, shoes, or a tote bag, make sure that it is looking its absolute best in the photos you take. The whole point of fashion shoots is to sell the product, and sometimes that means putting the product before the models, though you definitely want to try to make sure to get both the model and the product’s good side.

Change up the outfits

Thinking like a fashion photographer means imagining all your photographs showing up in a gorgeous magazine spread. Now think about the last magazine spread you saw: did any of the images show the same outfit in two images or at two different locations? Chances are, 99.9% of the time, the answer is a big ol’ no. So, fashion photographer or not, why would we shoot the same outfit in multiple locations and post all the photos on our website? The answer is…we wouldn’t. As a fashion photographer (or a photographer thinking like one!), you need to embrace variety, while also being extremely selective over the images you share. Change up the outfits often, especially once you feel like you got the shot.

Add some variety to the shots

Going back to the same example of the magazine spread, as fashion photographers it’s important that we think about the images we create as though we’re telling a story. When doing a photoshoot, we need to think of ways to create variety in either mood, texture, lighting, and content throughout our images in order to create a dynamic collection of images that keeps viewers (or shoppers!) engaged. For example, every time you change your model’s outfit, you should try to change the way you’re shooting them, too. Try out different focal lengths, angles, locations, crops or depths of field. Bringing variety into your images not only keeps things visually interesting, but it also helps create a more engaging story around your models and the products you’re trying to sell. You’re not only selling the fashion, but the story or lifestyle behind the fashion as well.

These tips are seriously only scratching the surface of all the details you should keep in mind when working as a fashion photographer (or just thinking like one!). There is so, so much more that goes into it, so if fashion photography or photography in general is something that interests you, make sure to sign up here to be the first to learn more about what I’m cookin’ up in my photography kitchen this summer!

AND if you feel like connecting with other female photographers like you, join our Private Facebook Community group where you’ll be welcomed with open arms. It’s a place where you can share your work, find inspiration, and ask for advice from all of our amazing members. Click Here to join!


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meet the photographer


I've spent the last decade of my life traveling the world as a fashion photographer and I created Horizon Found to give you everything I wish I had when I was starting my career. Here you'll find community, inspiration, and education - to help guide you down the path towards building the photography business of your dreams. My dream is to use this platform to help build a supportive environment in the photography industry.


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