Photography can be a hard, but rewarding job — it requires dedication, a flexible schedule and a passion for storytelling. You live in a world where anyone can take a picture whether it’s on a point-and-shoot camera, SLR or even an electronic device.
Fashion photograph is one of the most demanding career paths in the photography industry with one goal in mind — to sell the clothing, not the model. However, you shouldn’t let the demands of the job hold you back from achieving the fashion photography job of your dreams.
Don’t be afraid to work for free (a.k.a: “Shooting a Test”)
Working for free may not be financially rewarding for you but it can be rewarding in other ways. You’ll build a reputation in the community, make connections with other photographers and potential clients, and build a portfolio. If you focus on getting paying clients right out the gate, you may fall short in creating a portfolio that is appealing to future paying clients. Take the time to practice — it will help you nurture your creativity, and will teach you how to lead in some situations and be a team player in other situations.
In the industry this is called “shooting a test”: you gather a full crew (stylist, hair and makeup, model, sometimes a designer) of professionals, all working for free, to create images for their portfolio. It’s a great way to establish a working team, to call upon once the paid gigs do start hitting, and to build your reputation.
Don’t be afraid to work with the best in your industry for little money or for free.
Touching on the above statement, if you have the opportunity to work with the industry’s top players even if it doesn’t pay or doesn’t pay well, you should do it. We aren’t encouraging you to take a job that wears you out mentally or physically, and we aren’t saying your job should change you into someone you aren’t. What we are saying though, is that it’s OK for you to take a job for awhile that helps you build a foundation later for a fabulous career as a fashion photographer.
Don’t just take pictures, make the pictures.
Most people have access to a camera and some computer editing software — they can take an image and manipulate it however they see fit. But that doesn’t make them a photographer. You, as a photographer, should see your creation from beginning to end in your mind. Do what it takes to make your creativity come to life. Don’t wait for an opportunity to present itself otherwise, you’ll always be waiting.
You are selling a product.
The main description of a fashion photographer is to sell the product. You know up front that you are there to make the product beautiful and desirable. If you forget that, then there is a possibility you will be disappointed when your creativity has to be pushed to the side to make room for commerce. As a fashion photographer, you have two jobs: be the artist and the salesman. If you remember that as you seek out your dream job as a fashion photographer, your career won’t stall.