Fashion photography defines the success of a model’s portfolio to a great extent. This lies in the hands of a fashion photographer to a great time. The angle at which shots are taken, the entire process of editing and getting images as desired depends on several things. The genre of photography depends to a great extent on apparel and accessories. This enhances the effect of the shoots to a great extent. Over time, fashion photography has discovered new senses of aesthetics by showcasing the variety and beauty of clothes.
Many things such as the locations involved, the storylines on which the shoots are based, and the techniques used to create unique styles of the photos are very important for compelling photography.
Fashion photography is one of its kinds, to be honest. There are various kinds of this photography genre. Multiple types of photographers are working in these different kinds of high fashion photoshoot industries.
It sometimes confuses people about which photo is related to which type of fashion photographs. This photography niche is not like just putting on fashionable clothes and shoot. It has gone further than that.
Fashion photography is a popular photography genre, but it is also highly competitive. Understanding the different types of fashion photography can give you the edge you need to understand the field and impress potential clients with your images.
You love fashion, and you love photography – you’re looking to combine the two but don’t know where to begin? This comprehensive guide to fashion photography will show you how to start. This guide breaks down the four types of fashion photography and gives you an insight into the fashion industry, taking you from fashion photography rookie to pro.
In a nutshell, the different types of fashion photography are:
- Catalog Photography
- High Fashion
- Street Fashion
- Editorial Fashion
But, as with any genre, there are nuances for each style. Here is a description of the four types and some of their nuances:
Table of Contents
Catalogue photography is perhaps the simplest of the four fashion photography styles. Its purpose is to sell clothing, and the focus is on the outfit. It is often an excellent place to start fashion photography before progressing to some of the other styles.
This is the most basic kind of fashion photography. The priority here is only on the cloth and brands. It is a minimal photograph with less focus on the model but more focus on the dress he or she is wearing. The primary purpose of this photography is to create a conversion.
The purpose of catalogue photography is to sell the clothes. Fashion is the product, and it’s your job as the photographer to make the clothes look attractive to the customer. The only difference between catalogue fashion photography and other types of product photography is the model. However, the focus of the picture is still the clothes. Selling a dress and branding is the core motive of this catalogue fashion photography.
Companies use this type of photography to sell their products. Moreover, this is needed where printing is required. These kinds of images are the ones in which the model is necessary to pose against a particular background. The background is kept grey or white. Styling, in this case, is hassle-free. The clothing details are not much visible in this case.
The name ‘catalogue photography’ is derived from the idea of pursuing a clothing catalogue to look at the products. In contemporary marketing, commercial fashion photography is no longer limited to records. Still, it has become an integral element of e-commerce stores that rely on the photograph to sell to the online consumer. If you’re unsure of which type of fashion photography to start with, this is the best place to begin as it is the most straightforward – and it will allow you to get acquainted with taking pictures of clothes. Catalogue photography is also a great way to get your foot in the door before you work your way up to more complex fashion photography styles.
Unlike the other categories of fashion photography, there is very little artistry. The backdrops are either understated or typically plain white so that the clothes stand out against the background. There are minimal accessories and no props. The models are subtle in their poses but may be posed in a way that shows the clothing's functionality.
Perhaps the biggest challenge that faces catalogue photography is lighting. Shooting in dim lighting won’t show the details of the clothing well, and on the other hand, an overexposed photograph can wash out the fabrics' colours. This defeats the point of catalogue photography which is presenting clear and accurate photos of the product. Because of this, it’s a good idea to shoot in the day and avoid using lighting that is too bright if shooting indoors.
Catalogue photography is a type of product photography. The only real difference between catalogue photography and product photography is the presence of the model. Even so, the focus remains on the clothes.
The background of the photos are usually plain–white and grey colours are the most common. There are minimal accessories and few props. The models typically stand up straight to show the outfit, although they may strike different poses to show off the outfit's features like pockets.
An offshoot of catalogue photography is called Lookbook. It combines catalogue photography with lifestyle photography and involves shooting models wearing the clothes in precise locations and everyday situations.
Lookbook is related to catalogue photography, but it has a more casual feel. Lookbook is a type of catalogue photography infused with lifestyle photography. You will be photographing models wearing the clothes in a relaxed manner that feels natural and authentic.
The advantage of lookbook photography is that it allows the consumer to visualize what the clothes look like in day to day situations. E-commerce stores can show consumers their clothing in real-life locations and draw the consumer into a narrative about how they would wear these clothes. For example, the model might be wearing an evening gown in a ballroom setting. This is a persuasive advertising tool as it gives the consumer a greater sense of connection to the product, which correlates to increased sales.
Lookbook is also on the rise, becoming a fashion photography trend with an increase in amateur photographers taking fashion photography on location. ‘Instagram models’ is a new term describing people who have gained hundreds of thousands of followers for their Instagram lookbooks. This is a more accessible form of fashion photography due to the nature of the photos. It’s a significant trend to jump on with the new wave of amateur models with no formal photography experience looking to grow and monetize their online platforms.
High Fashion Photography
High fashion photography is where you will have to capture photographs of models for high fashion brands like Gucci, Vogue, Chanel, etc. These fashion photographs mainly show the products these brands are offering via the model. This type of photo especially gets published in high fashion magazines and giant banners.
High fashion is something people frequently see on the cover of their favourite magazines. From the photographer’s perspective, high fashion means well-known supermodels in often exaggerated poses, a sometimes unrealistic wardrobe, and all elements, including hairstyles and location, blended to create a perfect image.
But, getting that perfect image is quite the challenge. You’re constantly confronted with difficult decisions regarding location, lighting, models, wardrobe, hair, and much more. Even if much of that is decided for you, you still have to put it together to look glamorous and appealing.
One of the first things you should do is carefully consider the mood you want to create with the shoot. You don’t have to be too specific, and you don’t have to stick with it if inspiration leads you elsewhere, but it’s an excellent place to start.
High fashion is the opposite of Lookbook in terms of relatability – as the photographer, you are trying to achieve a perfect image, consisting of a tall fashion wardrobe, glamorous hair and makeup, and a sophisticated setting. It is up to you to blend these elements into a beautiful photograph, which creates a narrative about the model and the outfit. Also, retouching is almost always used in high fashion photography to create a perfect image.
You also need a suitable model for your shoot. You want someone experienced and someone who will collaborate with you to create that mood you want. As well as the model, you’ll want a good team.
You’ll want people who are responsible as well as talented. You’ll wish to professionals in makeup, wardrobe, and hairstyling. It also helps if they share your vision for the shoot and the art of photography in general.
If you have a choice of location, you’ll want to consider the mood you’re trying to create again. There are also practical considerations, such as whether you need a permit for your location, and if it’s indoors, you might need permission.
To take a high fashion photograph, it’s essential to have a collaborative team working with you to create your photo's ambience. You won’t necessarily be able to choose your team or location depending on the job, but be prepared to try and articulate your vision so they can help you create the right mood.
In terms of equipment, you will need lighting equipment and a good quality camera. It’s essential to have a lightweight camera to make it easier to take photographs on set. It’s a good idea to have a selection of lenses to vary your pictures. It is essential to have Photoshop or other high-end editing software to retouch your images afterwards.
Supermodels, stars, celebrities, famous actors and actresses are the prominent people in consideration for this kind of photography. Big brands, which are the pioneering ones in the market, mainly advertise their products by using this kind of fashion photography.
The clothes, accessories and other stuff are displayed in a way that is somewhat different from reality. The poses give an output that is sometimes too perfect. Exaggeration is the word here. All the elements of a model that include wardrobe, styling, hair, makeup, location, and light angles are combined in the right proportions to give a final image. This image is flawless. All significant labels use this form of photography for marketing their products.
These are the kind of images that can be found on the cover pages of major magazines. High fashion images have often been said to be unrealistic. For maintaining a fancy visual, a shift is created from reality.
The main challenge that follows this kind of photography is the struggle to get a perfect image. One always has to deal with decisions, including making choices for the delicate nature of lights, the suitable model. The most crucial choice a photographer has to make is the right wardrobe to bring to light. All focus, in this case, is to make the images appealing and glamorous to a great extent.
The basis of the shoots in high fashion is the mood. The mood in which the shots are taken matters a lot. The essential tip here is to follow the idea that was generated in the first place. It is crucial to understand what one is trying to deliver. This will help a lot in deciding the right intensity of light and the vital shades that are to be included in the shots. Collaborations also happen in these cases. A good team is essential for setting the right working mood and getting the desired output.
The team should include a bunch of people who are talented and creative. Also, they have to be responsible enough to handle the correct elements together at the right time. Location can be outdoors or indoors, depending on the mood that is desired. Lightning equipment and proper cameras are to be used in suitable conditions.
Street Fashion Photography
The most fun way to capture photography of fashion is to capture street fashion photography. Street fashion photography is to capture the photos of models wearing fashionable outfits and carrying fashion accessories while walking on the street. It is not always that you will have to take pictures of your model. You can also capture photos of various persons moving randomly in streets and show their unique fashion sense.
Street fashion, also known as urban fashion, is often thought of as the opposite of high fashion. An offshoot of street fashion is alternative fashion–grunge and hip-hop are examples that later became mainstream street fashion styles.
Street fashion looks are more rugged than high fashion. It consists of the kinds of things people wear every day like jeans, shirts, and hoodies. It also includes dresses that look elegant but don’t sacrifice comfort.
Photographers who specialize in this style are often shooting regular people on the street rather than models. But, you’ve got to be careful about getting permission to photograph people on the road. The rules aren’t always clear, as several street fashion photographers can tell you.
Street fashion photography is taking snapshots of people on the street, hence the name. While high-fashion or editorial might be considered pretentious due to the photos' heavy stylisation, street fashion is raw and pared-back in comparison. It’s all about taking pictures of real people in real scenarios. The style is not generated by studio heads but by youth and urban culture.
If you’re in love with alternative fashions like grunge, athleisure, hip-hop, boho and hipster, then this is the photography genre for you. Like lookbooks, street fashion is a rising fashion photography trend. Due to the unpretentious vibe of street fashion, more people are feeling compelled to express themselves. Street style on fashion blogs and Instagram has blown up, with street fashion photographers amassing huge followings. Social media has a significant impact on how fashion houses and fashion publications interact with their consumer base. Street fashion photography is more relevant than ever.
One important street fashion photography tip is to make sure you get permission from the people you want to take pictures to avoid unethical photography.
The conventional styling ways of people inspire this kind of fashion photography. It depends on what motivates the general style and typical people. This kind of style is relaxed and casual. This is more about effortless dressing. The shots are taken when the models are doing their daily work. More candid poses are included in this.
The principal aim is to highlight the ideas that are trending in the real world. The style, in this case, is quite rugged as compared to high street fashion. Daily wears, which include jeans, tee shirts, and hoodies, are the major clothing used in this case. There are no rules as such for this case of photography. This is because the main idea here is to keep it casual.
To capture street fashion shots, most photographers use a longer lens. That way, they can get photos from a distance without making people feel self-conscious about the shoot. Street fashion goes to show that some of the best fashion trends are around you everywhere!
Editorial Fashion Photography
Editorial and high-fashion are similar, but editorial allows even more freedom for artistic license. Editorial fashion photographs will be found in magazines and newspapers, as part of an article that can be about various topics.
Editorial photos can be more conceptual than high fashion and suggestive of a backstory. Using a particular designer brand or model, you can use their concepts to create a narrative.
Editorial can be challenging as there are many design elements to consider, including location, wardrobe, hair, makeup and props. Although editorial can be challenging, as a photographer, this can be one of the most enjoyable forms of photography due to creative expression freedom. This will also be more fun for your models, who will be able to experiment with the fashion photography poses. This is particularly rewarding for fashion enthusiasts as you can create a visual theme and experiment with fashion. Similar to high fashion, you will need to retouch your final images.
This type of fashion photography is unique and famous. An editorial fashion photo tells a story using the image. Here the photographer will have to take pictures of the model while he or she is wearing the fashion dress and is in the middle of doing something. It shows the lifestyle and what they are doing. These types of photos get published in magazines as a story. They are also in too much demand right now, and an editorial fashion photographer earns the most.
This is fashion photography that tells a story. You’ll find editorial fashion photography in publications like magazines and newspapers. The images usually accompany the text, which can be about a wide variety of subjects.
Editorial fashion photographs can also tell the story themselves, or they may suggest an intriguing backstory. Often you’ll find editorial fashion images that are part of a theme or concept, or they may relate to a particular designer or model.
The goal here is to create a specific mood that tells the story. These images might involve one brand or several brands and various photographs, from closeups to long-distance shots.
That means there are likely to be various types of shots requiring different equipment as well as other makeup, wardrobe, and hairstyles on your models. There are also expected to be several different props.
Despite the challenges, editorial photography can be one of the more rewarding fashion photography styles because of its creativity.
If you’re considering fashion photography as a genre, these four styles can give you an idea of the field's different possibilities. Of course, you’ll need to get the proper equipment as you would with any genre, but once you have that, there are several styles from which you can choose. It’s about deciding which type fits your particular needs and desires.
Catalogue photography can be your bread and butter while you aspire to something that gives you more creative license, like editorial photography. Or, perhaps, the supermodels of high fashion are more your style. If not, then maybe it’s the real-life images of people on the street. Whatever the case, the world of fashion photography, although challenging, can be enriching.
The shoots that happen for newspapers and journals come under this kind of photography. Mostly, these are accompanied by texts.
Now that you know about the different fashion photography types, this should give you some ideas about what sector you want to go into. Thinking about what genre of fashion you want to focus on will help you define your photography type.