Fashion photographers combine multiple forms of art to create images that highlight apparel and accessories; capture modern favorites, record clothing trends and predict future fads. They have an eye for design and a knack for coordinating shoots, from choosing the right backgrounds and stylists to troubleshooting unpredictable weather scenarios. In the fashion industry, photographers take pictures for retail clothing sellers and buyers, magazine editorials, fashion lookbooks, online fashion magazines, showrooms and catalogs.
Experience and Understanding
There are typically no education requirements for photographers, but many obtain a bachelor's degree in a field relation to fashion or photography. The job requires keen interpersonal skills to get along with the crew, inspire the model, and capture the product in its best form. Fashion photographers may work as assistants to professionals to gain experience and to work on their portfolios. They must learn techniques such as which cameras produce the ideal images, and how to blend larger subtext into shoots, such as incorporating a cultural theme.
Planning and Preparing
Fashion photographers spend more time planning their shoots than they do on set. Every detail is determined beforehand, including how each shot will be set up and lit, how many models should be cast and what look should be achieved. Photographers often hold auditions to ensure they find the right model for the job -- one whose personality mirrors the message and content of the campaign. Locations for sets are also scouted and secured ahead of time.
Communicating and Enhancing
On set, fashion photographers don't just snap pictures. They collaborate with makeup, hair and wardrobe stylists to ensure models have the right look before determining exactly where to place them in the scene. However, models don't always offer winning shots right off the bat; it takes a patient photographer to get them to open up and provide perfect poses. Photographers may try to incorporate motion or shadows in shots, or change the placement of artificial lights to maximize the product's appearance.
Income and Competition
Fashion photographers may expand their focus to include fashion videos, which are video shorts that allow more time for narratives, and which add motion, sound and music. The national average salary of fashion photographers was $56,303 per year, as of 2014, according to CareerBuilder. The BLS notes that photographers in general will face strong job competition through 2022.
2016 Salary Information for Photographers
Photographers earned a median annual salary of $34,070 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, photographers earned a 25th percentile salary of $23,480, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $52,220, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 147,300 people were employed in the U.S. as photographers.