What does a fashion photographer do

We often hear about the word “fashion photographer”, but what on earth do fashion photographers do? Fashion photography is just one category in the commercial advertising photography field. In terms of products, the main shooting subjects for a fashion photographer include garments, cosmetics, skin care items, fashion accessories such as bags, shoes, scarf, eyewear, jewelry, watch etc. In most cases, fashion photographers provide original and faddish photos to fashion magazines and journals. However, shooting models are also a large part in a fashion photographer’s daily life. The professional fashion photographer must be fully responsible for the models’ hair style, make-up, overall clothing matching, lighting, background and other props. Therefore, fashion photographers not only need to know about commercial advertisement photography skills, but equally important, they must also keep abreast of the fashion trend and be conscious of how to highlight the products for sale.


Most fashion photographers are freelancers, but some are contributing photographers for certain fashion periodicals and magazines. When the fashion photographer gets an order, first of all, he/she must figure out how to present the products: with the models, or without the models? What other props to create the scene? What kind of models will fit into the client’s target market?  After selecting a few model candidates, in many cases a casting is necessary. Next when the shooting plan is settled, you need to book the makeup artist and hair stylist. To ensure a smooth shooting process, you should clearly know what image results you want in your head beforehand.


In apparel photography, some fashion photographers will ask the assistant to do the actual shooting, while he/she is standing by to guide. Other photographers prefer to take the photos all by themselves. However, almost all the fashion photographers will pick out the final photos in person. It is a big and tedious job to examine and choose the most satisfactory images among hundreds or thousands raw pictures. As for post-production, some photographers will retouch the pictures personally; others will assign the instruction to the assistant or outsource the task to a third party freelance retoucher. After retouching, the photographer will hand over the photos to customer, who will then publish the photos on fashion magazines, print catalogues or use the images on outdoor billboards such as subway, bus stations etc.