Brooks Pro Tip: The Basics of Fashion Photography
April 10, 2013
•Brooks Pro Tips, General, Photography
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I have seen so many photos that people call fashion photography that are actually portraits. Many people see a pretty girl in a photo and label it “fashion.” So let's define exactly what fashion is: a form of art dedicated to the creation of clothing and other lifestyle accessories.
Yes, good-looking models are part of it, but the main subject of fashion photography is the clothing or fashion accessories. That is why a wardrobe stylist is part of every professional fashion shot.
As a teacher, from day one, I tell my students that if a photo is not good enough to be in a magazine, it should not be in their portfolio. The primary duty of fashion photographers is to “sell” fashion with the best possible models they can find. Very often, students will have a great idea and the best lighting, location, and styling, but if they use their roommate as a model, the final result is always going to look like student work.
Yes, I realize they are students, and that there are also some "super roommates," but motivating them to aim high works like magic! A perfect example is current student photography student Benjo Arwas - see some of his work from our most recent Brooks study abroad trip to Paris.
The photo below is an advertisement that I photographed for Bryan & Sons Jewelers and of course, the main subject is jewelry on a beautiful model, Cheri Larocque.
- I used two large parabolic umbrellas with warming gels over the strobes to get a more pleasing skin tone and at the same time, give the background slightly bluish color cast to separate the model from background.
- Making the background out of focus helps with the separation, too. It is important to be shooting in a large space to have full control over this effect.
- If you prefer your background to be even more blue, use warmer gels or a tungsten light source as key. Of course, you will have to color correct for the desired skin tones.
The reason why I chose diffused light is because it works well on the diamonds as well the model. Here is another very small fashion photography tip that will make a big difference: When using a large diffused light source, it is very easy for monster lighting to sneak up on you! Always look for the jaw line and nose line and try to keep the key light slightly higher. Otherwise, you can easily come up with a very diffused monster creation. If you have a hard time seeing this, try to squint and look through your eyelashes. This will help, but it may take some practice.
Nino Rakichevich is an instructor in the Professional Photography program at Brooks Institute. See more of his work at www.ninophotography.com.