fashion photography

How to Make Money Selling Stock Photography

It’s been almost 100 years since the stock photo industry began to take off. Since then, countless agencies and solo photographers have made a living selling their work to companies and people across a myriad of industries. Although the internet has helped boost stock photography like never before, the question on many photographer’s minds is the same: is there money to be made?

The answer is yes! People looking to tell their stories and ideas on websites and social media often browse through hundreds of online images in hopes of finding the perfect one. Whether you want to make big bucks as a stock photographer or just some pocket change on the side, here are seven tips that will help you stand out from the competition and find success.

  1. Get yourself a good digital camera.

If you were looking for a stock photo for your article or website home page, wouldn’t you only consider high-quality options? The average stock photo buyer wants pics that are sharp and a pleasure to look at, which means you should invest in a good digital camera if you hope to impress.

A digital SLR that lets you control the settings is recommended, as are these pieces of gear if you like to travel and shoot.

You don’t need the most powerful camera available to stand a chance in today’s competitive stock photo industry, but you’ll do far better if you’re not relying on a smartphone or severely outdated camera.

  1. Know the basics of photography.

Just like in any type of photography, creating stock photos worth buying means being at least familiar with the fundamentals.

The fact is, the average commercial photographer is good at what he or she does because they took classes, earned a photography degree, or simply have put a lot of time into studying important elements like exposure, lighting, etc.

While it’s no secret why a photography degree is so valuable in this day and age, there are other options available for career-changers, continuing ed students, and curious visual artists. You can learn in a conservatory program, short-term workshop, and even though hands-on practice.

  1. Study your own photos carefully.

It’s important to understand the technical editing elements of today’s industry-standard photography software.

Always inspect your images in at 100 percent so you notice imperfections before reviewers do. While you’re at it, make use of things like tripods, low ISO settings, and proper shutter speeds to avoid unwanted blurriness and other unattractive effects.

  1. Develop an impressive portfolio.

It’s nearly impossible to count the number of stock photos that get submitted to the many online microstock photo providers out there. Stock photography is a numbers business — the more photos you put out there for potential buyers to look at, the more likely you are to make some sales.

It’s common for up-and-coming stock photographer to drop at least between 100 to 200 photos a month, whereas established photographers can provide less since they may have consistent buyers.

To keep your photos fresh, consider ideas and projects like these to tap into your creativity.

  1. Use smart keywords on big networks.

Some might argue that you’re better off focusing on sites with less competition. While there’s truth to that, wouldn’t you rather spend hours uploading images and writing keywords for popular sites where more buyers browse each day?

Of course, there’s more to becoming a successful stock photographer than simply dropping tons of pics into a stock site. It’s important to create keywords and descriptions wisely so when your photo is exactly what someone needs, they’ll actually find it in a sea of images.

  1. Do your research and find a niche.

While we’re not saying you can’t have fun while taking stock photos, it’s a good idea to do more than just snap a pic of whatever you feel like capturing. Doing some research will help you learn what customers are looking for, which means paying attention to the types of images that get the most downloads.

That being said, don’t just copy what everyone else is doing unless you can do it significantly better. Find an niche where stock photos are in demand but there’s currently a low amount of content for people to choose from.

  1. Don’t give up!

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This is perhaps the most predictable tip, but one that’s especially important if you see yourself making money selling stock photography. Don’t feel discouraged when only one out of many of your photos actually sell while the rest get passed up time and time again. This is common!

As long as both your photography skills and portfolio continue growing and you pursue your work with determination, you’ll soon find yourself finding a path as a stock photographer.

A Q&A With New York Film Academy Photography Conservatory Student Tanne Willow

Photo by Tanne Willow

Photo by Tanne Willow


Known for decades as a cutting-edge leader in crafting fine light-shaping and flash tools for professional photographers, Profoto is a Swedish company that recently
featured New York Film Academy (NYFA) 2-Year Photography Conservatory student Tanne Willow and her images in their Local News section.

A true representative of NYFA’s diverse international community, Tanne original hails from Sweden and has lived in Denmark, France, and the United States. With a background in dance and an obsession for motion, her work has a truly unique energy and it’s easy to see why she was chosen by Profoto to spotlight as a “Rising Light.”

In the midst of her fourth semester at the New York Film Academy, Tanne took the time to answer some questions and to share part of her story with our student community. Read on to hear more about her pathway to NYFA, her favorite photography equipment, and how surviving a busy semester is helping her create her own professional identity as a photographer.

NYFA: You worked for many years as a dancer before deciding to go back to school for photography. Can you tell us a little bit about your experience studying in NYFA’s Photography Conservatory, as an adult continuing education student?

TW: Before I came to NYFA I had quite a few years of experience but it had been a very long time since I had last studied, and I felt there were a lot of holes in my knowledge. To be able to come here and build it up from the base even though I had preexisting knowledge was completely a revolt. It changed everything.

Today I can say with confidence that I am a photographer and know that there is a certain professionalism that comes with that word that I possess, and I can now deliver on a professional level consistent work. I know my own limits in a completely different way, and I also know my capabilities after these two years. It has really meant everything in that sense.

 

Photo by Tanne Willow

Photo by Tanne Willow

 

NYFA: Can you tell us how your featured story on Profoto came about?

TW: I sent in my images for submission, and I was chosen. There was a call from my [NYFA Los Angeles] teacher Amanda Rowan, she was the one who put me in touch with the Profoto agency.

NYFA: What is your absolute essential toolkit for a shoot? Any equipment you can’t leave the house without?

TW: It depends on what I am shooting, and for every shoot there is a different toolkit. I shoot in very many ways. I shoot digitally but also analogically on large format — 4×5, and medium format also. The only thing I can say I can’t leave my house without is my camera! That’s the essential part photography can’t happen without — and me and my eye! As long as I have my camera, I can do something.

NYFA: What’s next for you? Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you’re working on?

TW: I’m currently in my fourth semester at NYFA and working on my thesis project, “Matriarch.” It’s a study about the definition of femininity — something I am quite unclear about. Growing up as a female in this world, I have experienced different countries. Being born in Sweden, living in Holland, France and the U.S., I have seen many variations of how femininity is defined and how females and non-females are defined by femininity. I have heard myself being described as feminine and I have used the word myself, but I have a very ambivalent relationship with it — because of that fact that it is so so attached to my being somehow, yet I see the difficulties that I have myself, in the world around me, in knowing what we mean when we use this term.

What I do is I work with performance artists. I search for the physical interpretation of their ideas of what femininity is. I discuss with them what they think it is and how they define femininity, then they improvise under my direction. And I photograph them. I document them both digitally, all environmental portraits. The cameras I use in my thesis are a Canon 5D Mark III, with a 24-70mm lens, and a Toyo 4x5in View-camera, with a 90mm lens. 

NYFA: What are your goals as a photographer?

TW: My main dream is fine arts exhibitions, also shooting fitness (dance background) and have lots of experience in shooting motion-filled images. My preferred way to work is with people in motion, whether it’s fine arts or commercial photography. This is my main interest. I thoroughly enjoy the analogue part of photography and I wish I could incorporate that in my career with lab and print work.

 

Photo by Tanne Willow

Photo by Tanne Willow

The New York Film Academy would like to thank Tanne Willow for taking the time to share a part of her story with our student community.

Ready to go back to school as a continuing education student? Check out the New York Film Academy’s Photography 2-Conservatory programs!

National Photography Month: Outdoor Fashion Photography

 

Every great photographer knows that there are multiple components to a successful outdoor fashion shoot. Whether you are doing a shoot in the alleys of New York or in a field of wheat in North Dakota, nailing down your subject’s outfits will help you with your outdoor fashion photography.

Students passionate about learning the ins and outs of a fashion shoot can get hands-on training and experience at the New York Film Academy’s 4-Week Fashion Photography Workshop. We also offer two fine arts degrees in photography — bachelor’s and master’s — as well as intensive conservatory-style programs. Our students will learn practical elements, and master technical and business practices to help them achieve their professional goals.       

If you’re already in the field and need some quick tips, here are some things to consider while you are preparing for your outdoor fashion photography shoot.

Research the Location

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Don’t wait until the day of your shoot to pick out your location. If you have an idea of where you would like to shoot, scout out some spots days prior to the shoot. Make notes and plan out the frames that you want to take during the shoot.

Keep Your Model Comfortable

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Make sure you get to know your model before the shoot to ensure that they will be a good fit for your project. It helps to establish a rapport, as you will be working closely together and will likely be offering your model directions during the shoot. You can help keep your model comfortable by establishing a connection beforehand and maintaining a professional, friendly environment that will keep their poses and expressions relaxed.

Use Natural Light

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You should try to use natural light during your photo shoot, even though you can’t control the intensity of the sun and the direction of the natural light source. However, you can overcome this by placing the model correctly, which will help you achieve the amount and direction of light in a frame that you desire. If you can, avoid placing the model directly facing the sun because it will wash out the natural skin tone of your model and create deep or harsh shadows.

 

If you want to use artificial lighting, you can use a flashlight or studio lightning to underexpose the background. Using a light source directed toward the model allows you to control the direction of the light without causing spilling.

Use the Correct Lens

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You should know what type of lens you will need for fashion photography — whether it’s a wide-angle or telephoto lens. If you choose to use a telephoto lens, your depth of field will be shallower and will be more flattering to your model. Wide-angle lens will allow you to capture everything in focus.  

Experiment With Camera Angles

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Don’t be afraid to experiment with camera angles — you should never take photos at eye level for outdoor fashion photography. Try and position your camera so that the angle is high or low. This will allow you to get some out-of-the box frames with perspective while keeping focus on the model’s eyes.

For example, if you want to get a low-angle shot, have your model stand or climb up on a ladder or you can stand on the ladder to achieve a different perspective.

Do you have any tips for having a successful outdoor photographer shoot? Let us know below! And learn more about photography at the New York Film Academy!

How to Direct a Shoot for the Best Model Poses

Fashion shoots can be a lot of fun if you know what you’re doing. From different costumes and makeup to cool poses, there is plenty to work with. Regardless of your own experience, it is always good to remember a few tips to make every photo shoot you do fabulous every time! Whether you are directing professional models or first-timers, here are some tips to help you direct your photoshoots as successfully as possible:

Capture as many different expressions and poses as possible.

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There is nothing wrong with having your model(s) smile or use their go-to pose, but you do not want over a hundred photos with the same expression and position. It is important to mix it up for the best possible results. An experienced model may be able to give you many poses and moods without much direction, but if you are working with an amatuer model, you may need to give some guidance.

Do some research.

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This might seem like a beginner’s tip, but it never hurts to have a refresher. What have some of your favorite and most successful fashion photographers done? For example, hair alone could make or break a fabulous shot. Learning how to position hair on longer-haired models or styling shorter hair can add a new edge to your shots. The same goes for knowing how to pose different body parts to make the models look their best without digital manipulation.

Be a conversationalist.

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No, you don’t have to be a socialite, but talking with your models will help alleviate any awkwardness either of you may be experiencing. It will also make models much more comfortable with you. Additionally, don’t forget to give positive feedback. How will your models know if they are doing a good job? Tell them! It will make for a better experience for the both of you.

Keep taking pictures.

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Some photographers have hundreds of pictures from the same shoot. This is because photographers know the more photos they have after a shoot, the more options they have. Taking a ton of photos is worth it if you find “the one” that could define your (and your models’) portfolio(s).

What are your tips for successfully working with your models on a fashion photoshoot? Let us know in the comments below! And learn more about fashion photography at the New York Film Academy.

Everything You Need to Know About Setting Up a Fashion Photoshoot

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Organization and a professional attitude are important to a successful fashion photoshoot.

First, you need to have a plan — If you are shooting for a publication, the art director may tell you what kind of feel they want. If you are shooting for your own lookbook or a personal website, the theme planning falls on your shoulders. Find a theme for the project and keep that in mind as you select locations and backdrops and communicate with the stylists and models.

Team — in addition to yourself and the model(s), your team should have: a stylist who understands tailoring and can make adjustments to the clothes so they fit the model properly; a hair stylist and makeup artist who can help you bring your vision to life; and an all-around support person who can fill in or run errands as needed.

Location — if you are shooting on location rather than in a studio, make sure you consider safety and legal issues. For example, railroad tracks are usually considered private property and it is illegal (and dangerous) to photograph on them. For other locations, you may need a permit or authorization from the owner. Do yourself a favor and check before you go.

Next, you need to set up your equipment — You may have a very simple setup or all of the latest gadgets, but along with your camera, lenses and a source of light are the bare minimum you can get away with. It goes without saying that you should know exactly how your camera works, but it’s a good idea to know other tricks and tips in case your equipment fails or some other plan goes awry. On the “nice to have” list is a way to backup the shots before you even leave the location, a system for keeping track of the shot details, water and food for the team, and a first aid kit.

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Lenses — Use the right lens for the job. While Erik Madigan Heck is able to do much of his work with a hand-me-down lens from his mother, most photographers build up a core set of lenses that they use for specific purposes. How To Geek has a good, simple overview of how lenses work and what the different types of lenses are used for.

 

Lights — You will need to decide between natural and studio light and understand how to work in either situation. Lighting your shoot properly is crucial for showing off the clothes and the model. Zhang Jina’s article on lighting tools provides a great overview of her approach to lighting and she includes example photos to show the effects of each tool.

When you get there — Once your team is assembled and the shoot is underway, stick to your schedule and set a professional tone.

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Be ready before the model arrives — If you’re in the studio, set up your lights, backdrop and props before the model arrives. If you’re going to be shooting on location, get there before the model does so you can set up your equipment.

Part of preparing is being inspired — Get to know the work of other photographers as well as the history of fashion photography. Spend time looking at magazines, websites, and photographer’s books for a better understanding of composition, color, and lighting.

Establish a rapport with the subject — When your model arrives, spend a little time talking to the person and putting them at ease. When they are relaxed, they will be much more natural in front of the camera, which will show in your final images.

Give credit to the team — Acknowledge everyone’s contribution to the success of the shoot and thank them all for their time and hard work. Your name might be on the final image, but everyone on the set contributed to the final results.

After the session — Most photographers do some touching up with software such as Adobe Photoshop, but software can’t fix poorly lit or out-of-focus images. As you adjust color balance and make adjustments, be aware that there is lively debate about where to draw the line when it comes to digital manipulation of images. Stay current on the conversations surrounding photography and the fashion world.

Meet your deadline — It is sometimes hard to stop adjusting and tweaking images; it is equally hard to pick only a limited number of shots from a day’s worth of work. Still, if someone else is waiting on those images, deliver them on time and with a professional attitude. That will help open the door for other opportunities.

Be ready to do it all over again — If your editor says none of the shots work, none of the shots work. Accept that assessment, ask for clarification on what they are looking for and go out shoot again.

Take care of business — Submit your invoices, track your receipts, and update your portfolio, website, and resume.

You can always go behind the scenes of fashion photography with one of New York Film Academy’s 4-week Fashion Photography Workshops.

 

7 Fashion Blogs Aspiring Photographers Should Follow Now

The internet has created a wonderful subculture for fashionistas, sartorialists, clothes-horses, and dandies of all stripes. Websites like Pinterest allow for people to pin inspiring or cool outfits in an easy to access place so they can look at it whenever the fancy strikes them, and image searches mean there’s a plethora of fashion to be ingested at any time.

However, as an aspiring fashion photographer, your interest in fashion runs even deeper. Which is most likely why you are always on the hunt for inspiration and fashion news, seeking something a little more curated. To aid your research for your next fashion photography shoot, New York Film Academy has rounded up a list of eight fashion blogs worth bookmarking, putting in your rss feed, or following on tumblr:

1. PUT THIS ON

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Started by podcaster extraordinaire Jesse Thorn, PUT THIS ON made its name as a premier place for vintage and American classics. If you’re a man looking to start dressing better or a photographer interested in menswear, PUT THIS ON has guides on everything from thrifting to belts.

2. THE SARTORIALIST

Featuring a deep catalogue of street fashion photos for men and women, The Sartorialist has been an internet fashion mainstay since 2005. Scott Schuman’s blog has also spun off into books featuring international daily style. It’s a great resource for fresh, street-inspired ideas.

3. RUNWAY SASS

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If you’re looking great high concept runway style, Runway Sass is the place for you. Keep up to speed on the fashion world’s runway trends. All of the Fashion Week 2016 posts are in an easy to access link at the top.

4. HANA HALEY

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The first thing you http://hanahaley.tumblr.comnotice when you go to Hana Haley’s tumblr is the pink background. A NYC-based photographer/director in NYC who’s in love with “femininity and 35mm film,” Haley dominates her blog with pastels. Recently featured: a videoed trip to Cancun. It’s a nice way to juxtapose your fashion inspirations with lifestyle imagery and may give you some ideas for your next fashion photography shoot.

5. EFF YEAH INDIGENOUS FASHION

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Steadily updated, this blog is about the beauty of indigenous fashion. As stated by the site’s duo of indigenous founders: “Indigenous artists and designers are still awfully underrepresented in the fashion, art and design business today, and often get passed by in favour of appropriative knock-offs by customers looking for ‘native’ or ‘indigenous’ art to wear or use.” Find inspiration in authentically created indigenous fashion.

6. BLACK FASHION

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Black Fashion is what it sounds like: pictures of black men, women, and nonbinary individuals dressed in their best. The blog even has separate sections for black fashion at prom, graduation, and with friends just hanging out.

7. HIPTIPICO

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The tumblr for ethical fashion based out of Guatemala, there’s plenty of photos of beautiful South American landscape and colorful Guatemalan designs.

Want to take your interest in fashion photography to the next level? Apply today for NYFA’s upcoming fashion photography workshops.

Names that Changed the Fashion Photography Industry Forever

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When it comes to fashion, all the attention goes to the stunning outfits and gorgeous models who wear them. But without a talented photographer there to capture it all, it’s impossible to convey the allure and excitement of the apparel.

We’ve compiled a list of people who entered the fashion industry with a desire to give us a closer, more passionate look at the beautiful clothing and accessories available. Of all the great fashion photographers that have existed in our time, the following used their creativity and talent to provide images that not only generated sales but also influenced the next generations of photographers.

Helmut Newton (October 31, 1920 — January 23, 2004)

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This award-winning fashion photographer changed Harper’s BAZAAR, Vogue, and other top fashion magazines across the globe. He pushed the envelope with his provocative black and white images that often featured nude models — a bold, controversial style in the early 20th century. Before becoming a photographer in Australia, Newton survived the Holocaust in Germany and was also imprisoned in Singapore for a time.

His greatest achievements include being awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by France, the Grosses Bundesverdienstkreuz by Germany, and the Chevalier des Arts, Lettres et Science by Monaco. Newton was also given the Life Legend Award for Lifetime Achievement in Magazine Photography in 1999 by Life Magazine.

Richard Avedon (May 15, 1923 – October 1, 2004)

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Richard Avedon is considered one of the most iconic fashion photographers ever to grace the industry. Using unconventional techniques and his unique style, he shook things up by photographing models that showed emotion and were in action. For this, his obituary read: “his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America’s image of style, beauty and culture for the last half-century.”

Avedon began as a staff photographer for Harper’s BAZAAR and rose to chief photographer. He eventually moved to Vogue and became the lead photographer, shooting memorable campaign ads for Calvin Klein Jeans and other top brands. Thanks to Avedon, future fashion photographers had the courage to take risks much like he did while working.

Irving Penn (June 16, 1917 — October 7, 2009

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An American photographer whose work spanned six decades, Irving Penn is credited with revolutionizing and perhaps inventing what we think of as fashion photography. His 1950 cover of Vogue was the first black-and-white photo featured on the magazine’s cover since the advent of color photography in 1932, and boldly introduced not only a new advent in fashion, but in photographing fashion.

Moving from creating situational contexts to display fashion in the 1940s through stark, high-contrast opulence, surrealism, and focus on fine detail, Penn tirelessly pioneered shifting perspectives and aesthetics in his work. His stark black-and-white photography has attained icon status. Known as a modernist, he was also a great portrait and still live photographer, famous for capturing iconic artists at different times and in different styles as well as experimenting with ethnographic photography around the world.

Deborah Turbeville (July 6, 1932 – October 24, 2013)

If you’re into fashion photography that evokes a darker emotion, you can thank Deborah Turbeville. She is known for providing content that went against the common trends of the early 1970s, when models were always shot in well-lit and unprovocative situations. Her photographs boasted an edgy and mysterious feel that few could match at the time.

Born in Massachusetts, Turbeville got her start as a fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar. Eventually she became a photographer who provided work for countless notable publications and fashion advertisements, including Macy’s, Bruno Magli, and Ralph Lauren. Along with her style, Turbeville was also known for avoiding gender stereotypes and choosing models who showed humanity and not just beauty.

Ellen von Unwerth (1954 — Present)

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Ellen Von Unwerth is a fashion photographer and director known for her specialty in erotic femininity. But before shooting her first professional photograph, she served as a fashion model for a decade. Her experience in front of the camera is one of the tools she used to become one of the most prominent fashion photographers today.

After gaining fame for her photographs of German supermodel Claudia Schiffer, she went on to provide work for Vogue, Interview, Vanity Fair, and more. Many of her films have received awards, and and she’s also directed music videos for notable stars like Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, and Duran Duran.

Steven Meisel (June 5, 1954 — Present)

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If there’s one person all aspiring models dream of working with today, it’s Meisel. He’s not only shot every cover of Vogue Italia since 1988 but also has the privilege of photographing Madonna for her ground-breaking 1992 book “Sex.” Meisel has shot campaigns for everything from Calvin Klein and Versace to Valentino and Louis Vuitton.

But more so than his work, Meisel has helped change fashion photography by proving that a photographer has the best eye for spotting the best models in the industry. He has proved this by turning nobodies like Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and countless other women into some of the most recognizable models in the world.

Mario Testino (October 30, 1954 — Present)

 

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You can’t become a fashion photographer and get far without knowing the name of Mario Testino. One of the most desired photographers today, Testino has worked for Vogue, V Magazine, Vanity Fair, and other top international fashion magazines. He has created countless images for top brands like Michael Kors, Gucci, Versace, Chanel, and more.

His ability to create unforgettable work is credited to his practice of not seeing models as blank canvases, which is what other photographers prefer. Instead, Testino sees his models as people, allowing him to convey their human beauty. Testino has also helped catapult many models into stardom, including some (like Gisele Bündchen) who no one else wanted to work with.

What other fashion photographers do you look to for inspiration? Let us know in the comments below?

Finding the Fashion Photography Job of Your Dreams

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”)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Gorgeous Fashion Photos and What They Teach Us

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In an ad culture dominated by beautiful images — visual representations of products meant to appeal to our desires and imaginations — it’s easy to stop paying attention to individual photos, even if they are sitting on the cover of a magazine, or displayed boldly on a billboard, or hidden in the corner of a Facebook feed. At NYFA, we are training students to create work that breaks through the noise, calms the overstimulated eyeball, and captivates the attentions of onlookers. Our new Fashion Photography workshop will teach students how to create the best images through, in part, the examination of the greatest existing fashion photographs. Here are some of the most elementary steps to creating your own gorgeous image.

Subject: Give your subject icon status.

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What would a discussion of fashion photography be if it did not acknowledge the quintessential image of Audrey Hepburn in her “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” getup? Though Hepburn’s portrayal of Holly Golightly in the film is what ultimately garnered her the most adoration and respect, the succession of promotional images of her in her black gown and pearls, holding a cigarette, gave her some serious star power. She is also known for her uncommon beauty and her expressive, bushy eyebrows.

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In choosing a subject for your image, it is not necessary that the model fit certain requirements, like having poignant features or unique looks, or adhering to traditional American beauty norms. Rather, the perspective of the photograph, and how it portrays the model, should be special. Give your model a cool hairstyle or a striking costume or a relentlessly emotive facial expression. This can be done in many ways and it is truly up to the photographer’s preferences, in combination with stylists, designers, and other artists.

Staging: Be dynamic.

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Whether the image shows many models, a focal point model with supporting models in the background, or a single model alone, the models should be positioned in a way that interacts with the rest of the image and/or the camera. They can fill the frame or they can appear to be far away. Regardless of how the image is composed, it should draw onlookers in. A person passing by the image can be surprised by its unique staging, or confused about the actual narrative of the image, or just visually delighted by the way the image has been put together.

Lighting: Play with contrast and shadow.

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In a fashion photograph, strategic uses of darkness and light are incredibly effective. By its nature, lighting draws attention to what it hits: highlighting it. Beautiful images are taken with a consciousness for the parts that are necessary, or most appealing, to highlight. Lighting can bring emotion to an image. For instance, the use of extreme shadow in Pablo Roversi’s fashion images gives them a certain ethereal quality, one for which the photographer has been recognized time and time again. Also, consider using deep contrast.

Editing: Honesty is beautiful.

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Keep in mind the real issues with fashion photography and image editing. Airbrushing and PhotoShop are criticized for making photographs fake, for positing an unattainable beauty standard that is damaging to the general public. Pose this question to yourself: How can I treat these issues without compromising the artistry of my photo? A beautiful image is often created by a great photographer, not a great editor. Our fashion photography program will teach students to build these skills, to discern what must be concealed and what must be exemplified in the composition of an image. We have already considered how a photo can do this in terms of subject, staging, lighting, and editing.

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What are the fashion images or icons that inspire your photography? Let us know in the comments below!

Fashion Photography Tips Every Budding Annie Leibovitz Needs

Fashion photography has generated some of the most inspiring, iconic, and wide-reaching images, yet it’s not without its challenges. One of the most challenging — and rewarding — experiences you can have as a photographer involves an editorial shoot. Of course, arranging a shoot that goes along smoothly and without any hiccups is a difficult feat.

Despite the challenge, photographers love these opportunities because they offer their own form of fun and creativity. No matter whether you’re completely new to the world of fashion photography or you’d simply like a refresher on the basics, we’ve rounded up some tips that can help you refocus and plan your fashion photography editorials. Especially if you’re new to fashion photography and want to prepare an editorial shoot of your own, keep this advice in mind:

Before You Start, Have An Idea

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Every good fashion shoot starts with an idea well before the scene is prepared and model is chosen. Going into the shoot there should already be an emotion or atmosphere that you’re trying to create in order to better promote the clothing, hair, etc.

The good news is you don’t have to be too specific, nor do you have to stick with the idea if inspiration arrives later. Whether you’re just going for an ‘80s vibe or want a goth look, having a general concept in mind is the best way to start.

Seek Inspiration If Necessary

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Having trouble with that last tip? Or perhaps you do have an idea but you’re not sure how to best convey it via your photo shoot? With the advent of the internet and social media platforms, finding inspiration from other people’s work is easier than ever.

Don’t worry: Finding inspiration from the great fashion photographers before you isn’t “cheating,” and even the top photographers in the world sometimes gain ideas from elsewhere. We recommend studying fashion editorials and scrolling through photo sharing platforms like Pinterest and Instagram to check out pictures that can help you hone in on your own idea.

Find The Right Model For You

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This step is arguably one of the more nerve-wrecking ones, since your model will be the face of your editorial. Fortunately, there are talented aspiring models everywhere who are looking for the opportunity you have to offer. If you’re new to the scene, you may have to pick from non-experienced models, which is a gamble. If you can, find yourself experienced models that have done this before and are serious about it.

The internet is ripe with places to find agency models that are pretty much guaranteed to show up and do a good job. It may cost you money but if you plan to submit your editorial to a respectable magazine, it’ll be worth it. They’ll also have a good selection of models for you to choose from so you find the perfect collaborator for your idea.

Assemble A Team You Can Trust

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By “a team you can trust” we mean people who have proven their talent and are responsible enough to commit to your project and follow through. While your good friend might say they’re amazing at makeup, we recommend connecting with someone who has professional-level experience. The same goes for the other two important people you’ll need to work alongside your makeup artist: a clothing wardrobe stylist and a hair stylist.

If you think you can also handle one of these tasks yourself, fantastic. In fact, this might be necessary for newcomers who don’t have enough time in the field or networking under their belt to know a lot of people in the industry.

Perhaps one of the most important qualifications when considering potential teammates is that they are excited about your project. They should be just as invested in the shoot as you are. That way, the work has a real chance to shine.

Find A Good Location

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You have your team, your idea, and your model. If you haven’t already, you’ll definitely want to start considering the best locations for your shoot. No matter how fantastic your model and clothing look, a good or bad location can make all the difference.

Outdoor shoots are usually a bit easier since most places have no restrictions — though, depending on where you are, you may still need a permit to hold a photo shoot in a public place. Most indoor places such as a church or mansion require permission, and you’ll need to shoot an email or file a permit to square away your location beforehand. You might even find a great local venue that lets you shoot there for free.

Take A Deep Breath And Shoot!

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Once the date you set for your shoot has arrived don’t worry if you’re suddenly a combination of nervous, stressed, and excited. Our advice is that you take a moment to relax yourself and remember that this is your shoot, so have some fun and remember what you know about portrait photography! Remember that many shoots don’t go exactly as planned, and that’s OK. Sometimes, the hiccups and challenges on the day can lead to new ideas and great images.

Instead of panicking, just work with what you have and try to enjoy the process. Whether everything goes as planned or you run into a bump or two, remember: It’s all about the clothes. Do what you can to keep your focus on the fashion.

Decide Where to Submit

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You probably already had a particular magazine or two in mind before you even started shooting. This is the best approach, since every magazine comes with its own style — which means they tend to select work whose aesthetic fits with theirs. Use the power of the internet to search for places that might be interested in picking up your work.

Lastly, be patient. Some photographers grow anxious when their first choice of magazines don’t agree to publish their work. The biggest mistake you can make is to give up and forget about your photos— or worse, show them off on social media. Magazines especially prefer their photos to be exclusive, put off tossing your work online and just keep sending them out until you find success. Fashion photography is full of challenges and rewards, so happy planning!

What are your favorite fashion photography tips? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Tips For Landing Paid Fashion Photography Work

As we covered in our earlier guide to photography jobs, fashion photography is one of the most competitive niches you could ever hope to enter as a photographer.

In fact, it’s notoriously cutthroat to break into at a professional level, but those who overcome the hurdles can expect all the glitz and glamor that is associated with the industry, and a nice paycheck to boot (with the average earnings reported at being around $59,000 per year.)

So, how best to crack the fashion photography nut? Presenting:

5 Surefire Tips for Landing Paid Fashion Photography Work

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1. Put Yourself in the Right Place

Location naturally plays a big part in the job prospects of any photographer, but this goes doubly so for those hoping to work in fashion.

You may be able to score gigs doing product photography for catalogs and websites all over the country, but if you want to get where the real action is – the photoshoots, the magazine spreads, the catwalk shows – you’ll need to consider moving towards one of the fashion hotbeds.

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Throughout America (and in order of influence from top to bottom), the cities which have the most sway in the fashion industry are:

  • New York City
  • Los Angeles
  • Columbus
  • Nashville
  • San Francisco
  • Portland
  • San Diego
  • Seattle
  • Cincinnati
  • Providence

While it’s not strictly necessary to permanently relocate to one of the above cities, it certainly won’t hurt your chances to do so.

2. Your Portfolio is Everything

In an industry as competitive as this, you’ll want to instantly capture a prospective employer’s attention and hold it for as long as it takes to land the job.

Short of meeting him or her in person and grabbing them by the lapels, you’ve only got way of doing this: your portfolio. So you best make sure it’s a damn good one.

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Don’t make your portfolio look like an “evolution” of your craft, with the images getting better and more advanced as the pages turn (a common pitfall.) Trim all the fat; leave only the excellent stuff. Get as many second pairs of eyes on it as possible so you can get better perspective on how it looks to an outsider before sending it off… and remember to pay close attention to their faces to pick up on their initial reactions to each shot. It’s a great way of figuring out which images are mediocre, and which make a genuine human impression.

3. Develop Your Own Eye

A layperson would be forgiven for assuming that it’s simply about taking snaps of nice clothes, but as a photographer, you’ll know that there are many layers of nuance and subtlety at play, as well as a deep sense of personality inherent in the photography.

Finding your own “voice” is an exceptionally long process, and you should be prepared to be in it for the long haul. But if you want to advance the pace and develop a deeper understanding of what works and, more importantly, why, attending photography school should be a serious consideration.

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Oh, and don’t forget to list all of your academic achievements on your portfolio for maximum impact.

4. Don’t Just Shoot. Read.

The fashion industry is a fast-moving one. Styles change at a lightning pace, as does the gigantic list of people and entities in the business that you should be intimately aware of.

As such, you’ll need to throw yourself into the magazines. The glossies are a great place to start, but since they can be expensive, set up an RSS feed filled with fashion blogs and make sure you flick through it daily.

5. Get Paid Well.

Given the competitive nature of the industry, you’ll often be offered exposure in lieu of hard cash for your work and sold it as if it’s a great deal and you should be grateful.

Exposure doesn’t pay the bills.

While there’s nothing wrong with doing work for free when there really isn’t any budget and you’d love to do the gig anyway, recognize that there’s nearly always a budget for larger jobs or anywhere that products are being sold. Chances are, a lot of people are getting a healthy pay-off from the back of your work, and you should be the first person in line… and unapologetically so.

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In short, it’s a tough road to walk but there are plenty of rewards to be reaped along the way. There’s no reason why that journey shouldn’t begin right now—best of luck!