Research into Fashion Photography​ Industry



In this blog post, I’m going to look into the fashion photography industry, which is the field which interests me more at the moment. At the beginning of the year I was really not sure about which sector I preferred between Advertising, Editorial and Fashion photography as when I was in college I did a bit of everything, but this year after exploring all the sectors again, I’ve noticed that I enjoyed and felt more comfortable in doing my fashion assignment. This is why I have decided to research more into this industry.

Firstly, is good to know what a fashion photographer’s work involve. He photographs garments but in a creative and very technical way by using ideas, themes of the season, the clothing range, the designer or the brand. It can also be for catalogues and websites and they have to represent the style of the clothes accurately.  To make sure these ideas are eye-catching and interesting they don’t only shoot in studio but also on location.         A fashion photographer has to be very flexible he cannot just be good with photography technicalities, he needs to have an interest in fashion, know the history and update himself on new trends and styles because this industry always changes and is always looking for original and innovative ideas. Photographers who have a good understanding of this aspect of fashion are able to create the best and most relevant work. They are also commissioned for different publications, they can work for high-fashion magazines one day work and for a simple website, where they style is completely different another day, that’s why they need to have excellent working and organising skills and lots of creative ideas. Very often fashion photographers work in teams which include art directors, editors, stylist, producer and many others which are part of a large creative staff and they all need to work together to achieve briefs which are given to them by clients. Well established Fashion and Magazine photographers work from their own studios but some photographers work in studios which are actually supplied by their clients.                                                                                                                                       Networking in this industry is very important, photographers must develop and maintain contacts within the fashion industry and the fashion publishing business.
As I stated first this industry always changes so a photographer can stick to one trend and style all the time, he needs to continuously refresh his style and demonstrate their new ideas and creative vision to lots of people.                                                                                                        Initially, I thought a fashion photographer would work with few models chosen by him but that is not how it works. They work with a variety of models selected according to what’s the idea and concept, the model has to represent the style and features of the clothes, that’s he probably needs new models for different shoots.

There are three areas in this sector that interest me:

  1. Magazine photographers they take photos for weekly or monthly magazines and daily newspapers. They need strong creative and technical skills to interpret the editors brief.  They need to be good in shooting either in studio or location. They often work through agencies.
  2. High fashion photographers they work on top-level in fact they are highly paid photographers and they work in their own studio or they rent it. They get to this level thanks to their success and past experience and this shows that to get in such a position you must have worked hard for years and they were able to improve excellent technical skills and important contacts and clients in the industry. The good thing about high fashion photographers is that they can select their own team of assistants.
  3. Catalogue photographers they have good communication and organisational skills and be able to control studio or location situations of the whole team to work together towards a common goal. They need outstanding technical skills and must work closely and quickly to fulfil the client’s and designer’s creative brief.

Secondly, who employs fashion photographers? They are employed by catalogues, fashion magazines or houses, advertising agencies. They can also be self-employed. It is interesting to know that to produce a range of photos enough to fill many catalogues and websites they spend days and weeks shooting, someone could thing they can do all of that in few hours.

Thirdly, how much do they earn? It depends. If they reach the top as a High Fashion or Magazine Photographers, they earn very high fees, whereas a catalogue or website photographer receives a salary and paid holidays just as a regular employee.                                                                                                I also looked at LinkedIn Salary ( ) which I was able to access because I am as a student and it shows you salaries of different jobs in different areas. I couldn’t find a specific role as fashion photographer so I looked at picture editor, as editing is something I also enjoy doing a lot and wouldn’t mind finding a job in this sector too.

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This shows an estimate of how a picture editor would earn in a year in London. To have more information about salaries in this sector I looked for photographers job in general and searched different locations to see how the salary changes. I started by looking for photographers job in London, Birmingham and San Francisco because these are the cities where I would like to find a job in three years time. I couldn’t find anything in Birmingham but I was able to compare the prices in London and San Francisco.

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Whilst researching, the website gave me more information about the top-paying locations for a photographer in the United Kingdom and surprisingly Leeds the other city after London.

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Do fashion photographers need a qualification? Many people would think is not necessary just because many successful photographers did not need a qualification to get where they are. But I think times have changed, someone can be really talented but learning and having a qualification will prepare you and give you a solid background before getting into the industry. Therefore, qualification is needed. There are not many places that offer specialised courses for fashion photographers but there are many colleges and universities, especially here in the United Kingdom which give you the chance to attend a course that will teach you all the skills you need to get into the industry. The creative Skillset Tick, The LBIPP which is offered by the British Institute of Professional Photography and the AOP, have a really good and high reputation, they offer different qualifications and because of their good reputation, it can benefit photographers that have studied with them against other photographers working in the same industry.

To work in this industry there are key skills that fashion photographers need. Excellent communication skills are vital, as they are constantly communicating with people, some would think being a photographer would only involve working with your camera and model but that is not the reality, as we now know there are many people behind the scenes. They also need excellent networking skills, they have to keep being in touch, find new contacts and not lose them. Be highly organised, from experiences I’ve heard of from visiting lectures and videos, many photographers are given a really short time to shoot many things and without being organised or managing their time well they might end up not meeting their deadlines. Also because of the short time they need to work well even under pressure. They do not only think about photography but research and explore the fashion world and also keep experimenting and trying out new ideas. Thanks to many visiting lectures we had during this year I now know other skills, fashion photographers need to work in this sector. Most of the photographers we had, talked about how important it is to know all your equipment and camera very well, to have an excellent sense of composition and perspective, be good in using software and to be able to control situations whether in studio or on location as there will be days where everything seems to be going perfectly but also other days where things could be going in the wrong way and when that happens you need to know how to react to the situation. One last important thing many lectures mentioned is to be ambitious and serious about your career.

Lastly, What’s the best way to get in this industry? by assisting a photographer is usually a good way, as it will help you prepare and learn closely from someone who’s already in the industry and this will give you the experience. Meantime, by attending events and places with the photographer you would be able to meet clients, models etc.,

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