Fashion photography can be a lucrative career for the right individual. Although fashion photography is prominently displayed in magazines, advertising, and catalogs, it can be a difficult industry to enter. Working in fashion photography takes skill, dedication, and a lot of hard work. It is a fast-paced industry that constantly evolves with the never-ending changes in fashion trends. For a person who wishes to enter the world of fashion photography, it’s helpful to learn a few tips before trying to break into the field.

Understand Fashion

For any photographer, a firm understanding of the subject matter is helpful to produce the best results. Having a basic understanding of current fashion trends will help any new photographer to progress in the industry. Study fashion history and historical designers, stay up to date on current fashion industry news, and watch fashion films and documentaries.

Read Magazines

Fashion magazines are easy to find and can provide inspiration to the new fashion photographer. This is a great way to find out who the more prominent fashion photographers are and study their work. Find things in magazine photos that draw your eye, and work to emulate these techniques in your own shoots.


Many career paths begin with some form of training or internship, and fashion photography is no different. Assisting other photographers is a great way to experience firsthand how a fashion shoot operates. Working with other photographers is also a great way to learn and find ways to improve your own work.

Use the Right Equipment

Assisting can be a great way to learn the lighting principles used on a fashion shoot. There are several tools necessary for a successful fashion shoot. Take the time to learn how to use beauty dishes, scrims, and octabanks. These are tools that are present at nearly every fashion shoot, and learning to use them properly will be helpful to your career.

Learn Fashion Retouching

Although everything should be done to get the best image possible during the shoot, many fashion photographers make use of retouching techniques to help finish the job. There are professional retouchers who can be used to help finish your work, but for the most control over your final product, learning to retouch photos yourself is the way to go.


This is one of the tips you will hear most about learning to break into the fashion photography industry. Testing improves the quality of your work but also allows you to make more contacts within the industry. Perform as many of your own shoots as possible. Use your friends if you need to, but put together a portfolio of diverse shoots to use as your foot in the door. Modeling agencies like to see plenty of work from a photographer before enlisting them for a shoot.

Keep a Day Job

Making money in fashion photography can be slow at first. This is why you will need to maintain a day job. Major fashion outlets in Paris and New York typically opt for the most highly regarded photographers, so making money this way is difficult. Be prepared to do many jobs for little or no money as a way to make contacts in the industry.

Do Your Paperwork

Although you will be working a day job, you still need to approach photography as a career. This means taking the time to copyright your work, keeping track of names and photos you have taken, keeping an updated contact list, and maintaining your résumé. Even though you may not yet be a career photographer, approaching the craft as though you are will give you credibility when making contacts.

When to Say No and When Not to Say No

While beginning to work in fashion photography, doing as many projects as possible will be helpful to get your foot in the door. All experience, even unpleasant experience, teaches you about who you are as a photographer. But as your career progresses, becoming more selective about your projects will give you added credibility.

Do Personal Work

Personal work is a great way to set yourself apart from other photographers. This is how you can add your own personality to your portfolio, and it will help others to associate your name with a certain style.

Edit Your Portfolio

Always maintain an updated portfolio. Continuing to work and improve your portfolio shows that you are current and skilled in photography. By constantly editing and changing your portfolio, you are ensuring that you are showing others your best work.

Update Your Website and Social Media Profiles

Social media is an excellent tool to display your work. Continually add to your social media pages and personal website to show off your most recent photos. Social media can be an effective tool for garnering fans of your work and help to increase your profile when attempting to gain industry jobs.


Networking is a great way to make contacts in the industry and get your name into circulation among industry insiders. Although you would always like your work to do the talking for you, increasing your social network can be helpful. Use social media to reach out to other photographers and improve your contacts within the industry.

Be Prepared to Move

High-fashion shoots occur in high-fashion cities. If you want to someday earn the highest-paying shoots, then you will need to be where the action is. Consider relocating close to a major city. If you are moving within the country, begin looking for jobs in the new city; if you are attempting to relocate to a new country, consider studying at an art school in or near the city you want to live in or obtaining a tourist visa to get a feel for what it’s like before moving there permanently.

Do Good Work and Stay True

No matter what happens with your career, continue to work hard and maintain a high quality of work. Knowing that you put everything into your craft will ensure that you always have work you can be proud of. Do work that is meaningful to you. With enough effort and networking, people will eventually take notice of the consistently high-quality work you are producing.