Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Fashion is always changing, and this is a good thing for photographers who get hired to photograph the newest items and styles. If you’re thinking about getting into this line of work, below are a few tips that will help you take stellar photos every time, whether you’re shooting for a print publication or for a website.

Essential Gear

In order to tackle a job like this, you’ll need the proper equipment in place. Fashion photography can be really unforgiving if you aren’t familiar with it.

Start with a grey card or some other colour balancing tool that you know you can rely on. Getting the right Kelvin measurement in your photos is crucial to reproducing accurate colour. Nobody wants to order a blue sweater from a catalogue to find out it’s violet when it arrives.

Next, you’ll need a sturdy tripod, and if you’re photographing clothing flat on the floor, make sure your tripod has a horizontal bar or can be fitted with one using an adapter. You’re going to want to clear the legs of the tripod so that the camera can hover horizontally over the clothing.

Strong flash heads are also a must, along with the correct modifiers, such as umbrellas, softboxes, reflector panels, and gobo flags to help shape and control the light hitting the subject.

And if you’re using a mannequin, make sure to have clamps, safety pins, straight pins, and stuffing on hand to help shape the clothing. Keeping a garment steamer on hand is always a good idea to make sure you can remove any unsightly wrinkles and creases.

When It’s Time to Start Shooting

Now that you’ve got the gear in place, it’s time to practice. Photographing fabrics is something that takes a lot of patience, so give yourself time to adjust to the learning curve.

Basic professional lighting techniques apply to photographing clothes, but take the texture of the fabrics into consideration. Some items will benefit from a standard key and fill with a large umbrella for the key and a smaller one for the fill. Others, especially flat items, will look better with an even amount of light. Play with the fabrics and your lighting to find the most flattering angles and light ratios. While time-consuming, this is the best way to learn. Just make sure to take notes so the next time you encounter a similar item, you’ll already know how to approach it.

A Word About Backgrounds

If you’re shooting for a client who will want to change the background to pure white or another colour for their website or advertising, make sure you use a very small aperture so that every edge of the clothing is sharp. You may have to change your exposure settings to get this right, but sharp edges are a must if you think the background might be swapped at any time in the future, as soft edges make it almost impossible to cut the existing background out.

Once you get the hang of things, photographing fashion can be a lot of fun and lead to a really rewarding career offering product photography services.