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Fashion Photography – The Power of Visuals

August 3, 2016
fashion photography
What is Fashion Photography?

Fashion Photography is specialist sub-genre of Photography which focuses on shooting clothes and models in exotic locations and settings for the purpose of advertisement. It has pretty much existed since the beginnings of photography and it’s instrumentalization in advertising. The first recorded fashion shoot was done by Adolphe Braun for a Tuscan noblewoman at the Cour of Napoleon III in 1856. Advances in printing techniques allowed for multiplication in magazines which led to the widespread growth of the genre. This marked also the beginning of a long-standing rivalry between the two giants of Fashion Publishing: Hearst and Condé Nast. Their respective fashion flagship titles Harpers Bazaar and Vogue were among the first magazines to feature extensive Fashion Photography. Hence their fantastic heritage that extends to this day.

fashion photography


Fashion Photography developed along politics, economics, and zeitgeist. Trends, models, and locations changed over the course of history and adapted to what the customers wanted to see or the trendsetters and designers wanted them to consume.

What is the basic anatomy of a fashion shoot?

fashion photography


A fashion shoot consists of several important components:

  • The Clothes
  • The Styling
  • Make-Up
  • Location
  • Lighting
  • The Photographer
  • The Models

The clothes should be the focus of the shoot (obviously). The Styling is the way the clothes are represented and combined to create beautiful, aspirational outfits for customers. The models, make-up, location, and lighting usually create the powerful sex-appeal that fashion photography is known for. This part of the fashion shoot is often planned and coordinated by art directors or creative directors. The last piece of the puzzle is the photographer which brings his technical skill, his experience and creative eye to the table.

fashion photography

In a business sense, multiple players are usually involved in the production of a high-end fashion shoot (simplified version):

1. Marketing teams, the creative director or multiple art directors develop a campaign brief for the new collection.
2. Creative agencies develop the brief into a concept and start hiring contractors.
3. Model agencies, Talent Agencies and Freelancers provide the talent that is required for the shoot.
4. Everything is negotiated, booked and planned.
5. Everybody travels to the location, the raw pictures are shot.
6. The pictures go into post-processing
7. The Art Directors / Creative Director and Marketing Teams select the best shots for the campaign.
8. All the pictures are used to create marketing content for different digital channels.

What are the applications of Fashion Photography?

fashion photography

High-quality fashion pictures are a versatile and powerful tool. The basic applications are content for social media, high-end double page ads in print magazines, online banners, newsletters and out of home billboards. Modern digital media have turned the whole production process and the involved players into influencers themselves. Photographers, models, stylists involved in the shoot can be leveraged for a greater reach and behind-the-scenes content. Digital Media have turned fashion photography from an artistic advertisement tool into a 360-degree content strategy.


Fashion Photography is the king (or queen) of commercial product photography. It is an artform. It is here to stay, modern media and digital channels will surely change the way we consume fashion shoots, but the most powerful visual tool of the industry is surely here to stay.

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