Fashion Photographer

By TACP Staff on December 29, 2021

Fashion Photographer

Fashion photography is the practice of taking photographs of clothing or accessories, usually with the intent of displaying the images in an editorial, artistic or commercial manner for advertising to consumers. Fashion photography is often referred to as a subset of commercial photography, which involves documenting anything that is available for commercial use, like products or people.

What distinguishes fashion photography from commercial photography is the purpose of its use. A fashion photographer often seeks to convey fashion as a lifestyle, rather than just an object to be worn, and this may involve photographing lifestyles, fashion-related activities, or a set of clothing in a particular way.

What Is a Fashion Photographer?

A fashion photographer is a person whose primary focus is to produce images of clothing, accessories, and other fashion items for a commercial purpose. There is an enormous diversity of style, content, and approach in the practice of fashion photography as it encompasses all types of garments from casual wear to formal evening attire, from active sportswear to lingerie, and fashion accessories like handbags, shoes, hats, and costume jewelry.

Essentially, a fashion photographer is responsible for capturing an image in an artistic way that displays how a garment or accessory looks when worn. Fashion photography is meant to elicit an emotional response or spark a desire in the viewer, triggering them to take action and either shop for the product or wear that garment or accessory themselves.

What Does a Fashion Photographer Do?

Fashion photographers create still images of clothing, accessories, and other fashion items, typically with a digital camera and post-production software. The images are produced as editorial or advertising content for certain special publication media, such as fashion magazines, newspapers, fashion blogs, and catalogs.

Fashion photographers work closely with models, stylists, and art directors to capture the images that best represent the garment, accessory, or fashion style. Successful fashion photographers are both creative artists and skilled technicians who can edit their images in post-production to achieve the most effective representation of a particular garment or accessory.

Examples of Fashion Photography

Important Skills & Qualifications

Fashion photographers must have an eye for creativity and style, as well as a comprehensive knowledge of photography. They need to understand how light reflects on different types of fabric and how to use shadows or highlights to create a powerful image. They must also be able to work with models and art directors, paying close attention to the client’s vision and creating satisfying results while working under time constraints.

Additional technical and creative requirements include:

  • Technical skills in photographing people and products
  • Artistically creative style and innovative thinking
  • Thorough understanding of photographic lighting
  • Knowledge of photo equipment, including cameras, lenses, and other accessories
  • Familiarity with Adobe Photoshop and other post-production photo editing software
  • Familiarity with retouching images using various computer-based techniques
  • Good communication skills and the ability to work with a team

Fashion Photography Jobs

Fashion photographers may work for advertising agencies, in which case they typically work with an art director and model to create a specific image. They may also be employed by magazines or other media outlets that specialize in fashion content. And, of course, there are the traditional retail photography jobs for which fashion photographers produce images of clothing and accessories to be used on websites and promotional materials.

In addition to those traditional jobs, some fashion photographers go on to work as stylists or work as artists, doing custom photography projects for various clients. In some cases, they may also do beauty photography or headshots.

Alternative Careers for Fashion Photographers

The skillsets of a fashion photographer often overlap with those of other photographers and fashion industry professionals, so it’s not uncommon for them to take on several different types of photography projects throughout the year or find work in multiple areas of fashion. Some alternative careers for fashion photographers include:

Art Director

An art director oversees the overall style and vision of a creative project, including magazines, advertisements, films, or video games. Art directors are responsible for the creative decisions made within their organizations. They need a strong eye for style and creativity and must have a thorough understanding of the principles of design and understanding of color, texture, shape, form, movement, dimensionality, and other elements that contribute to an artistic piece.

Commercial Photographer

When advertising agencies create print ads or television commercials, they typically hire commercial photographers to produce the images. Commercial photographers need a creative eye and technical knowledge of photographic equipment, as well as an understanding of what kinds of images are most effective for selling products or services.

Landscape Photographer

A landscape photographer typically shoots outdoors, composing shots that capture natural elements, including mountains, rivers, forests, trees, flowers, clouds – essentially anything related to the natural world. Landscape photographers must be familiar with different lighting situations and have a good understanding of how camera settings can affect the look and feel of an image.

Photography Teacher

Photography teachers work in a variety of educational environments, training students on basic techniques as well as advanced concepts. In addition to teaching photo composition, photography teachers may also instruct students on how to use photographic equipment and individual software programs. Photography teachers may work at a high school or college level, in a public or private school setting.

Portrait Photographer

A portrait photographer captures images of individuals, typically one person at a time. Like fashion photographers and other types of commercial photographers, portrait photographers must be creative in their choice of angles and lighting. They also need to understand how different lens choices can affect the emotional tone of an image.


A stylist selects clothing, accessories, and other “looks” for photoshoots. Working with a fashion photographer to create images for print ads or runway shows, stylists often work under the direction of art directors or design teams to select certain items that best represent the company’s image. As might be expected, stylists must have extensive knowledge of fashion and an eye for style.

Wedding Photographer

Wedding photographers typically take wedding photos as well as record other aspects of the event, such as interactions between guests and other events at the wedding. They may also be responsible for editing and retouching images after a wedding, assembling them into a wedding album.

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Fashion Photographer Salary

Fashion photographers are a specialized group of commercial photographers. The salary of a fashion photographer is highly dependent on the person’s level of experience, artistic skill, and location, with most earning between $41,354 and $72,500 per year according to ZipRecruiter.

Approximately 65% of all photographers report working as self-employed or freelance artists, which means that their income may differ significantly depending on their ability to win and keep clients.

Highest Paying U.S. Cities for Fashion Photographers

The following 10 cities have been identified as having average salaries higher than the national average with the greatest wage potential.

New York City, NY$23.20$48,266
San Mateo, CA$22.90$47,628
Boston, MA$22.16$46,096
Juneau, AK$22.16$46,090
Berkeley, CA$22.01$45,773
Daly City, CA$21.94$45,644
Santa Monica, CA$21.90$45,560
Quincy, MA$21.81$45,371
Renton, WA$21.80$45,348
Richmond, CA$21.61$44,946
* Zip Recruiter, Fashion Photographer Salary, December 2021

Additional Resources for Fashion Photographers

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