Your goal is to become a fashion photographer (or more of one), so you’ve followed the tips in the PhotographyTalk.com article, 8 Tips from In-the-Know Pros About Becoming a Fashion Photographer, and prepared a portfolio.
A highly regarded fashion photo editor says the #1 mistake of most fashion photographers, new or experienced, is failing to research the publications they’ve targeted. She advises that you should understand the background of any magazine and its specific mission and goals, and exactly what kind of fashion content it publishes. This will help you determine if your goals and skills match the publication’s, or if it presents a new learning opportunity that will expand your range of skills. An important part of your research is to know the names of the photo editors and any bits of information about them that may help you when contacting them.
Another mistake of many fashion photographers is to think they will be selling the photos they present in their portfolios. Photo editors don’t buy existing photos and then try to fit them to a story or fashion spread. Instead, they want to see in the photo examples of your portfolio your style, your vision, and will then assign you, or any photographer, to shoot specific images for planned editorial content.
Because photo editors work in this manner, you should plan several groups of photos that can be presented in different portfolios at different times to different editors. You never know which photos may grab the attention of an editor and secure your name strongly in his or her mind. You may be able to obtain an assignment from an editor who hasn’t hired you in the past by simply showing him or her a different set of photos the second, third or fourth time you submit your portfolio.
- Fashion Photography: A Complete Guide to the Tools and Techniques of the Trade
- Fashion Photography 101
- Light and Shoot 50 Fashion Photos
- Fashion Photography Course: Principles, Practice, and Techniques: An Essential Guide
- Unseen Vogue: The Secret History of Fashion Photography
Just like a writer, you must have the confidence and fortitude to submit your portfolio again and again, and have it rejected numerable times, before you finally receive an assignment.
As stated in the PhotographyTalk.com article mentioned above, if your photos have already been published in fashion magazines, then your portfolio should include tearsheets from those publications. Your previous experience in the fashion field will typical cause an editor to place you higher on his or her list of photographers.
Another important insiders’ tip about improving your fashion photography opportunities is to understand how a photo editor thinks, and exactly the kind of images he or she wants. Most photo editors hire photographers who are able to convey a universal idea or emotion in a rather straightforward manner.
There are also some practical tips you should follow when submitting your portfolio because they will show that you’ve done your homework and are serious about being a fashion photographer.
Another option to put your portfolio in the hands of the right photo editors is to become a client of a photo agent. Just like an actor or writer’s agent, photo agents do the work of marketing you and your skills to the network of editors and publishers they already know.
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- 75 Portraits: Lighting and Posing Techniques for Portrait Photographers
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- 500 Poses for Photographing Women
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- Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It: Learn Step by Step How to Go from Empty Studio to Finished Image
- Secrets of Great Portrait Photography: Photographs of the Famous and Infamous
- Shooting in Sh*tty Light: The Top Ten Worst Photography Lighting Situations and How to Conquer Them
Your next goal is to make sure the right people, who are able to help advance your career, see it. These are the photo editors of fashion publications and independent photo agents.
Successful fashion magazines must communicate with hundreds of thousands or even millions of readers, which means the message in a photograph must be simple, so everyone understands what is being said, and can share the experience. This means you shouldn’t put photos in your portfolio with subtle, tricky messages that too many viewers (especially photo editors) will miss when they first see it. You want your portfolio to contain images that easily show and quickly reveal the ideas or emotions behind them.
If you’ve researched correctly and thoroughly, then you know the name of one or more photo editors at your targeted publications. It’s best to double-check by calling the publications and asking who should receive your package.
Make sure every piece you place in the submission package includes your and phone number. Create a small, separate label with that information and attach it to every page in your portfolio.
Don’t send any original work. All prints, transparencies or publication tearsheets should be copies just in case they are not returned. Your submission (and especially that beautiful portfolio) is more likely to be returned if you also include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Finding the right photo agent is identical to finding the right photo editors: you must research the world of photo agents and try to match what you want to accomplish during your career with what the agents have done for other photographers. You also want to know which publications an agent is more likely to present your work.
When you do have the opportunity to meet with a potential photo agent, make sure you are just as prepared as if the meeting was a job interview. You will have to convince the agent that he or she will benefit from representing you.
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Photo copyright PhotographyTalk member Echo1