Shooting Nudes is Not Shooting Fashion

At the risk of sounding like an old, crotchety fashionista I’m going to go ahead and say it: If you are shooting nudes and calling yourself a fashion photographer, you are missing the point in a very critical way. The word Fashion in front of the word Photography is just that: we are supposed to be shooting fashion and the point of shooting fashion photography is about shooting the clothing.

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I am seeing so much work produced by young, up and coming photographers that is poorly styled, if not styled at all. Throwing a girl on a unmade bed in a pair of cut off denim shorts, covertly hiding her breasts behind the pillow or letting one nipple sneak out is not fashion. You cannot tell me that you’re selling the denim shorts. You’re selling the sex. While fashion photography is often times sexy and sensual, it is the clothing, the styling of such clothing, the model, the posing and the lighting make the image sexy. Not the nudity. If you are finding that you cannot connect with a stylist and that’s why all of your work is not styled or poorly styled, then you are not doing the work it takes to create strong fashion photographs. When I was starting out I went to fashion colleges to find young designers that I could collaborate with for shoots. I also reached out to agencies that represent hair, make up and stylists and asked if they had an assistant list that I could work with, someone who was testing and building their book so we could grow together.

Maybe I’m just too “old-school” for you but maybe I’m just a devoted, obsessed maniac for fashion.  But what determined my decision to become a fashion photographer and not a car photographer was that I really loved and still love fashion. I think it’s incredibly important to understand the history of fashion, costume design, era-influenced fashion, fashion designers and styling. I cannot take a fashion photograph without a stylist who brings the clothing to my shoot. At Breed we are dedicated to helping you understand everything it takes to become a successful, talented, professional and accomplished fashion photographer. That’s why we are incorporating stylists onto our roster of teachers and ambassadors to help you truly understand that it takes a village to produce great fashion photography. We have brought on Eryka Claytonwho is a stylist and fashion editor of her own magazine, who has years of experience in styling both advertising jobs and editorial. I strongly suggest you sign up for one of her classes at Breed Academy so you can begin to understand the important relationship between photographer and stylist. You as a fashion photographer need to understand how to communicate with your stylist. You need to know without using google the difference between an empire waist and a drop waist. If you don’t understand what I just wrote, do yourself a favor and figure it out.

I know your nudes are getting you the likes on Instagram and your buddies back-slapping approval that you’re such a pimp cuz you get to shoot these hot, naked chicks. But the rest of us are swiping past your Instagram feed, bored with yet another shot of a girl in a tank top with hard nipples and Dr. Martens. Unless your life time goal is to shoot for Suicide Girls or Penthouse, no one that is at a higher level in the fashion photography industry (and that includes fashion editors, art directors, art buyers, creative directors, fashion designers, fashion stylists, photo editors, etc etc) will ever stop and look twice at your work. Sorry to be so blunt, I’m just telling you the truth.

Hey, it’s no skin off my back if you want to continue to take boring, poorly styled photos. But for people like myself that have dedicated themselves to fashion and fashion photography for decades, drop the self-titled fashion photography label you’ve assigned yourself and just call yourself what you really are: a glamour photographer. If you want to be a Fashion photographer invest some time learning styling. Cheers.

Melissa Rodwell