4 Useful Fashion Photography Tips
Nothing quite beats kicking back with a luxuriously glossy fashion magazine a la Vogue or Elle and daydreaming about rocking the latest Lisa Folawiyo or Dior gown. The beautifully shot and simply stunning photographs that bring these garments to life play a huge part in the meditative browsing experience and ultimately, our purchasing decisions.
Quality fashion photo editorials don’t just sell us a garment but a story, a lifestyle, one we long to be a part of and make our own. Online outlets are stepping up their game in the photographic department too, and not just the big guys – even aspiring fashion designers and brands are selling their products through visual storytelling, and so many of them are doing a fantastic job at it, even if it meant having to buckle down and acquire a new skill: namely fashion photography.
As amazing a source the internet is for shopping and fashion editorials, it also offers us a myriad of examples of how not to photograph and attempt to sell your clothes. In fact, there should be an entire website dedicated to all the truly horrific promotional material out there. No matter how elegant your hand-sewn ball gown is in real life, your followers are not going to be able to appreciate it when it is clumsily draped against a dark background and photographed without flash.
If you want your clothing and apparel or blog to have the same effect on your followers as those pictured in your favourite fashion magazines, start taking up photography. That way, you will save a lot of money and will never have to compromise your own vision. A small, initial investment into a photography workshop or course will get you on the way – the rest you can learn from our four most useful fashion photography tips!
Follow the Grid & Find the Center
Capturing the perfect shot of your model isn’t just about the right background and the best lighting, it’s also about following certain rules in terms of placement. While it may seem like a no-brainer to place your subject in the center of the image, it’s not always easy to find the right composition when working with several models, objects or an unusual background, for example.
To keep yourself on the right track, imagine your image as a tic-tac-toe grid. For an ideal composition, your subject should always be placed in any of the points where the lines intersect. If you’re working with a digital camera, you can employ the grid-line function to guide you at first, but it won’t take you long to find your points by instinct.
Integrate Your Background & Environment into the Story
A background can be so much more than just a backdrop – it can set the tone for the entire story you are looking to tell. One of the greatest benefits of learning fashion photography is the fact that you can create your own concept with minimal hoopla and at a low cost, as long as you find the right location and environment to play with.
If you’re working with a flexible model and no time pressure, you’ll even find that your locations will end up narrating the story for you – you just need to be open to what the environment is suggesting to you. For example: if you’re shooting in the town square of a historic city, make sure that your model’s outfit, hair and make-up complements this old-world vibe.
Study Poses & Keep Moving
We all have our failsafe poses we automatically assume as soon as a camera is focused on us. For women, it’s the obligatory angled leg, the cocked head, smizing eyes and a sultry smile, while men keep it more casual with their hands in their pockets and flexed muscles on display. When you’re shooting a fashion spread, however, you’re going to want your models to get a bit more creative about their poses. If you’ve ever watched an episode of Africa’s Next Top Model, you’ll know what we’re talking about, if you haven’t – study the poses they throw their models into.
Sometimes the oddest, most uncomfortable and contorted poses can make for the most captivating photos – the kind that will not only get your clothes but your models and brand to shine. Make sure you work with a model who is confident and open to all types of poses and backdrops and never stand still while you click away: the more you move around and with your model, the more interesting angles and perspectives you will discover and capture.
Spotlight the Clothing & Let it Move
One of the reasons the above advice is so important – i.e. studying poses and moving around as you shoot – is because it well help you find the best ways to capture the clothing in a way that sells. Potential customers want to get a sense of how the clothes will move, fall and flow from different angles and in different positions to determine whether it is the right style for them. A simple, head-on shot of your latest dress design will say a lot, but it’ll say so much more when you capture it in mid-twirl, as potential buyers will be able to envision themselves in that very moment.
When you’re shooting, always be sure to encourage your model to really experience wearing the garments and play with ways of highlighting the joy. Position your models into powerful stances and poses that show off cuts and details and tell a story of the lifestyle you’re looking to capture – business casual, elegant, etc.
Always be careful not to obstruct the outfit’s most important details, as even the tiniest stitches or embroidery can really make a garment come together and you want your customers to see that. Consider the angles and garment movement you find yourself particularly taken by when you’re flipping through your favourite fashion magazines and let these images guide you in your own work. Most importantly however: have fun with it!