By Erin Seaman, photo editor for FASHION Magazine.
In my years in the fashion industry, I've learned a lot. Being both behind the scenes and in front of the camera with my team, there are some huge lessons one learns quite quickly. Fashion photography is a tricky world, where your contacts and etiquette reign supreme.
Here are some things I've learned about fashion photography:
1. Fashion is one of the most exciting and creative types of photography you can actually get paid for.
2. The wilder your concepts, the more fun the production can be for a team. We make insane sets sometimes, for just one shot!
3. The reward of working with gorgeous clothing, shoes and accessories from world-famous designers every day is pretty special.
4. Sticking to your creative vision is key, but also being able to work collaboratively makes all the difference.
5. When that magical moment happens on set, where everything falls into place and you really know why you're doing this job, it's all worth the work.
6. Make sure your models are happy and fed. You can see an unhappy energy in photos instantly.
Now, if you want to be part of this type of team, here are my four tips to becoming a fashion photographer:
1. Be nice! Be easy to work with, and open to others ideas, yet firm in what your vision is. No one wants to work with someone who can't roll with the punches.
2. Have a very concise vision for your portfolio. Don't have landscapes, and dogs, and people, and cars. Curate your portfolio for the editor you are going to meet. Make sure your work reflects the brand of the magazine.
3. Constantly make more work. Even if you're not being hired to shoot, do creatives. Even my biggest photographers still do creatives to keep them moving forward.
4. Think outside of the box. Shooting in a studio all the time is easy, going to a location and pushing yourself to learn lighting in an outdoor setting will take you leaps and bounds above the rest.
As for the final product, there's a lot of work that goes into the post production for our shoots.
Here are my tips for making your photos look as great as possible:
1. If you're not a good retoucher, hire someone to do it for you. Retouching is a huge thing in fashion, and if it's not done well, your work suffers.
2. Learn lighting. No great fashion photographer has ever made it by just shooting in natural light. Take courses on lighting, rent lighting and try everything until you can master that perfect light.
3. Use great lenses. You can rent professional lenses for about $40 per day. There is no reason to use your kit lens when you have all of these amazing lenses to try out.
4. Make sure your images are tack sharp (unless you're going for a dreamy look). Images that are soft or out of focus are unusable for print in our publication. Make sure you know your f-stops, shutter speeds and focusing before you get into shooting with models, it can be tricky.
5. Be excited about your work. You won't sell me on your work if you don't believe in it. Be passionate, and know who your influences are, because you will be asked who inspires you!
You can learn more about fashion photography by registering for Erin Seaman’s course, Introduction to the Business of Fashion Photography, part of OCAD University’s Continuing Studies.
Erin Seaman has been working in the photography industry for more than 15 years, and has gained extensive knowledge in both film and digital backgrounds due to her experience working and shooting in a commercial environment. She has owned her own studio, shot for a large range of companies such as Calvin Klein, the Globe and Mail, HELLO Canada and Toronto Life. She holds a BFA from OCAD University and is Photo Editor at FASHION Magazine.