10 Things a Fashion Photographer Should Master
So you’ve shot a few pretty girls, and you feel ready to call yourself a fashion photographer. Fair enough, we all had to start somewhere. However, in order to live up to the term Fashion Photographer and all of the legends that have worn the label before you, there are a few elementary things you should master, aside from the technical aspect of shooting. To help you on your way to recognition, respect and a following, here are 10 things a fashion photographer should master:
Know your profession and respect the history of it. Remember, you are standing on the shoulders of giants, and you owe it to your art to study the works of who shaped the industry and brought the art to where it is today. Besides, looking back at what was done back in the day might teach you a thing or two that will take your work to the next level.
You should know how Edward Steichen in 1911 was “dared” by Lucien Vogel, the publisher of Jardin des Modes and La Gazetta du Bon Ton, to promote fashion as a fine art by the use of photography. You should be more than familiar with the works of iconic artists such as Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon or Helmut Newton.
You need to be able to handle criticism and turn it into fuel that will propel you to the next level. Even though criticism could be scary and hurtful, it can be extremely valuable for your progression as an artist. Seek it.
As the fashion photographer you are responsible for your productions and your team, and until you can afford to pay someone to help you out full time you will need to stay on top of every little detail. It is absolutely vital that you communicate well with editors and commercial clients, that you always keep your word, and that you deliver before deadline every single time. No one else will handle your business for you, and in this highly competitive industry you simply cannot afford to slip up.
Be that asshole with a great attitude who’s always in full control, and people will love collaborating with you and keep coming back.
It seems as if knowledge of fashion is becoming secondary to aspiring fashion photographers these days. This blows my mind. You are a FASHION photographer. You need to know your fashion. Not only do you need to know what to shoot in order to stay relevant, you need to know how to light different garments in order for them to look great in your shots. Remember, the role of the fashion photographer is to sell fashion, and if you’d like to live off of your passion you better be bloody good at selling it through your photos.
5. Your own fashion style
Not everyone will agree with me on this one, but I can tell you this: If you show up to your first meeting with a client or editor wearing a track suit, you are not making it easier for yourself. Whether you like it or not, looks and style is important in this industry. The very best fashion photographers live and breathe fashion, whether they look like rock stars or posh prima donnas.
6. Your temper
As mentioned in point three, a great attitude is extremely important. You should also be able to keep your head cool in difficult situations on set, and handle conflicts and difficult egos with absolute grace. Don’t ever let anyone work you up, and if you feel like punching someone, secretly sneak out and attack an inanimate object. Never show rage, and never lose it on anyone no matter what.
Don’t feel confident? Well, start acting it. Feelings follow actions, and if you start acting confident, you’ll feel it soon enough. Confidence is EVERYTHING, and if you have the knowledge mentioned above to back it up, it could be extremely powerful for you both personally and professionally.
8. Knowing yourself and your style
Have a plan for yourself and where you want to take your art. Finding your own style and approach might take some time, but once you get there, stick to it. For branding purposes it is crucial to stay consistent, just look at Juergen Teller, Camilla Åkrans or Mert & Marcus, I bet you could recognize their work from a mile away.
9. Large workloads
Yep, there are going to be days where you’ll feel completely overwhelmed by the workload. Get used to it, if you’re lucky it’ll only get worse from here.
As mentioned under point 7, confidence is vital, but don’t ever be cocky, and never brag blatantly. You are allowed to be proud of your own achievements, but this needs to be backed by a healthy dose of humility.
The list could go on forever, and that’s without covering your technical skill set as a photographer. However, these are important topics I see a lot of today’s aspiring fashion photographers neglect. As I always stress: this industry is extremely competitive, and you can’t afford to be lazy in any way.
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