It is going to take a lot more than just wishful thinking to turn into a prosperous fashion photographer these days. Breaking into the industry requires a great deal of dedication, hard work, and possibly even more important, a good roadmap for success. Without such a roadmap, you would essentially be shooting in the dark and hoping that one day, you get lucky.
Steps to Becoming a Fashion Photographer
The process of becoming a full-time fashion photographer is not a secret, however it does require some in-depth discussion. One of the differences is that in the fashion photography world, you will, at some point, be dealing with people who will not be present for your shoot. Of course, just because they won’t be present doesn’t mean that they aren’t important or vital to the industry. But unlike other genres of professional photography, with fashion photography it’s possible you will be working out all of the details of your shoot having never talked to the person in the shoot. Obviously this is different from other photography industries such as wedding photography or family photography; and it’s an important distinction to make. It means that you’re going to have to take a different tack in order to make the sale. It is less likely that you are going to be able to appeal to the decision-maker’s emotional side, and more likely that they will look at this as an analytical business decision. So you must adjust your sales pitch accordingly.
A Fashion Photographers’ Portfolio
Another step in the roadmap to being a fashion photographer is gathering together a portfolio. Having a portfolio is common in many photographic industries, but the fashion industry has a few pitfalls of its own. One difficulty you might be going to run into is the fact that few folks will want to hire you should you have an incomplete portfolio. So starting out might be especially hard. With other forms of photography, it might be a little easier because some people will be willing to accept your services for free in order to build your portfolio. Of course there are always aspiring models who will work with you in this “time for print” scenario, but there are still issues you will have to work through. Having clothing for the shoot is going to be one of the problems you are going to run into. Remember, the photography in the fashion industry isn’t about the model; it’s about the clothing. Having said all of that, this is how I got my start in the fashion photography industry. I would pay models for their time and arrange for a selection of clothing for the shoot. Having an investment in my future is what I was most concerned about, so it wasn’t that significant of an issue for me.
Hard Work Pays Off
Once you have a good beginning to your fashion portfolio, you can begin approaching publicists and agencies and asking to photograph their lower-tiered talent. Remember, today’s lower-tier talent are tomorrow’s future stars. One photographer who got his break this way was famed celebrity photographer John Russo. One of his first lower-tiered models was Josh Hartnett and that photo shoot eventually rocketed his career into the stratosphere. Of course, there was an extensive education and portfolio behind Mr. Russo’s good fortune. But he didn’t have the inside track until that photo shoot. And remember, that shoot did not pay off for him until years later.
Work Smart and Hard!
Probably the most profitable businessmen will often have a plan for success and you should be no distinctive. Even though it might take some time to build up the necessary credentials in order to get more paying jobs, it will be worth it in the long run. And remember it’s always possible that you will be photographing the next Josh Hartnett yourself.