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I get asked all the time, "How do you make a fashion shoot so fun and get beautiful images for your client?" Below are my top secrets!

From planning for a fashion shoot to learning how to pick your top images to knowing what to do with the images, here is 25+years of experience. 


As a fashion and portrait photographer I have seen fads come and go. But there are four basic types of fashion photography that will stand the test of time. Before diving into the world of fashion shoots you should know the different styles there are and really what type of fashion you’re looking to go into. 


*Catalog Photography

*High Fashion Photography. ...

*Street Fashion Photography. ...

*Editorial Fashion Photography.


When you are just starting off it can be tricky to know the type of fashion photography you are looking for. Catalog photography is similar to product photography but with a model. For example a clothing brand. 


High fashion is a bit more dramatic, you'll often see it on the cover of your favorite fashion magazines. High fashion is all about the vision, concept, high end clothing, hair, make up, more elaborate set ups which usually means bigger budgets. I would not recommend trying that for a beginner. 


Street fashion is very much what you might see on fashion feeds on instagram, it’s all about real life and what style people are wearing. Lastly editorial fashion is one of my favorites, you choose a topic (color, message, feeling) and work around that by creating and telling a story. Many times they are used to be published in a magazine or blog. They are not so scripted so you can collaborate with the model and really create something that is fresh and different. Something a bit more daring!


Once you know the style of Fashion shoot, what’s next? As a professional photographer here would be my top 10 tips on how to prepare for your next fashion shoot. 


1.Super simple: Sleep well the night before, no drinking or drugs. The more well rested and fresh you look and feel in the morning is what will set the pace for the rest of the day. 

2. Eat a good meal before the photoshoot (Note. keep it clean and simple). Most  professional shoots offer food and snacks. You will be surprised just how much energy it takes when the camera is on. 

3. Research and actually talk to the photographer before booking. It is the worst feeling not feeling comfortable with your photographer. This especially goes out to young women. What I like to do is add my wife (business partner) to our text conversations During photoshoots she comes and helps out. How comfortable you are with your photographer will come through the images captured. 

4. Take the time to really pick the theme, outfits (Incorporate layers and clothes with some texture, choose clothes that show movement in photographs, manicured nails) set up a mood board. 

5.  Be a professional: The photographs will be vital for your career, so it makes sense to spend the money on professional makeup and hair. Besides being able to get several looks for your shoot, a professional makeup artist can help you get diverse styles that stand out. On set they can be a pair of second eyes and can provide touch-ups between shoots, and deal with flyaway hair. By taking care of hair and makeup throughout the shoot, it will allow you to relax more and focus on modeling. 

6. Location - indoor or outdoor? It really depends on the theme, I love being able to give my clients a variety of styles and love doing both indoor and outdoor options for my fashion shoots. The pros about shooting in a studio is that I can control everything…temperature, backdrops, lighting, props etc. The pros about shooting outside is that you have an infinite amount of backdrops, natural light gives more texture, color (I absolutely love sunrise or sunset shoots because of its softness and ability to create gorgeous shots), the model many times relaxes and is more comfortable moving around. The main thing is to find a photographer that is skilled in both environments and ideally can give you both options.

7. How important is it to look at the images while shooting? I collaborate with my clients and welcome ideas. It’s very important for my clients to see the first shots we take while on a shoot. It helps us direct the photoshoot and make sure we are moving in the direction the client wants. We can see what’s working, what needs a bit more and ultimately guarantees the vision being executed and absolutely amazing images that really communicate the vision.

8. Posing: One of the questions I always get is about posing and it really depends. With new models we might start with candid poses to get the model comfortable and we’ll look at the images to review what's working. It will ultimately make them feel more confident with  the photoshoot. Some of my favorites that are also pretty comfortable are these:

*Leaning against a wall. It’s a very casual pose and does not take much effort. You can do several poses and styles against a wall in a limited time. 

*Full length shots are key but we need to make sure the outfit falls perfectly on the entire body as it is very difficult to fix in post production. 

*Hands near the face can create a bit of a more dramatic and different feel. 

9. Once you have the images what do you do? One of the key components to success as a model is sending out your images to many modeling agencies. Now a days most are contacted  via email (you can reach out to our office and can get a free easy to download list after your photoshoot.)

10. Have fun! You are creating art, it’s a vision, creative, outside the box job!


Why do I love fashion photography, simple………I can help my client communicate a range of feelings, emotions, styles and ultimately help them achieve their artistic and professional goals. A career that is well planned out, executed and followed through and is achieved is amazing and very rewarding and I just like doing my part to help someone make their dreams a reality. 


Back when I was 17 and received my first camera I never thought I would be able to travel the world because of my art. My camera took me to  London, Bangkok, Nicaragua, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Bora Bora to name a few and all over the US including New York, Miami, San francisco, San Antonio, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, San Diego, New Orleans, Salt Lake City etc. How cool is it to travel the world for a career? Work wise I'm the happiest when I get to see a new place, explore it with my camera and take it all in. I have learned a few tricks for traveling lightly (I wear my favorite cargo pants and fill my pockets with what ever will not fit in my bags plus a jacket with big pockets too). My clothes bags got lost when I went to the Dominican Republic. So that made the first few days a little interesting shopping for clothes while getting ready for my shoot. I always carry my camera bags on the plane so if a bag gets lost at least it's just clothes.


As a professional photographer I love capturing  images that my clients need but as a travel photographer I tell a story about a place, land, culture, customs and overall human experience through my lens. I have the privilege of sharing rich and diverse travel photography. Any company whether for profit or non profit organizations need a compelling story to communicate their missions and vision, I get to help them say in one image exactly what they stand for and why you should be a patron of theirs. 


There are many styles you can dive into as a travel photographer. My top two are portrait photography and street photography. As a portrait photographer I have the power to help my client create an emotion that conveys and has such an impact that it will move someone to action. That action depends on the product maybe it’s travel to that destination, or to become a sponsor of a non profit cause, etc. The effect that a well executed portrait creates stands true to the old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words”. That is what a professional portrait photographer creates, a technically well lit portrait that imbues your message, so powerful! Whether it’s for branding purposes,  historic preservation, or simply getting your portraits taken for personal pleasure they all share things in common, artistic & timeless (as it creates a feeling that is for that particular moment). I love that it allows me to capture and honor many traditions and customs from all over the world.  


One of my favorite travel photography shoots was in Nicaragua a few years ago.  It was for Angel Wings, a nonprofit group.  The kids and families were so grateful for the nonprofit work that was being done in their small town and it showed in the images.  An experience that forever changed my life.


Street photography is a way to learn about a community, groups, customs, everyday life. That’s what street photography is all about, capturing “real” life, not staged, not perfect yet so alive, busy, different and beautiful beyond words. Here is where I  get to meet the soul of a city, town, village etc and where you have unrestricted freedom to create at will. I get to take in the environment, the space all around and photograph life as it happens, how absolutely amazing that is! I get to be the one to freeze that moment in time that will never be again yet can take anyone to that place and time when then look at one of my shots.. As a travel photographer, specifically when doing street photography I have to be swift, open to new experiences and above all respectful to customs from around the world. I capture the human experience in the different parts of the world and in some magical way, through a lens, bring people together that now understand each other better. One tip for photographing people on the street in any country or city is to just smile at people and show some kind of gesture showing a "thank you". Also be willing to possibly annoy someone. At the end of the day the worst thing is it might bother someone. But I've found that a simple smile can defuse most situations. Also be willing to show them that you erased their shot if they insist on seeing the photo. I like to be on the direct side and I don't try to be sneaky when taking street photos. I find that most people are happy that I found something interesting to photograph them. There are many different ways to do it but I've found that this way works the best for me. Obviously there are exceptions.


My photoshoot in Haiti was another life changing experience.  I’ve never witnessed such poverty and beauty at the same time.  I saw misery and joy that I did not think was possible.  The smiles on the kids' faces as I pointed my camera at them made what I do totally worth it.  The kids were thrilled to play with each other without cell phones or electronics.  There was a group of girls jumping rope who welcomed me and were thrilled to pose for the camera. A beautiful way of life that I was fortunate enough to witness first hand and take part in.   


My shoot in Bora Bora I only saw a paradice.  It was completely magical, an absolute dream shoot.  It felt like I was on some kind of perfect tropical planet. I could see for what felt like miles under water. The fish were out of this world...bright unimaginable colors and shapes...and I swam with sharks. I was always really scared of sharks but I got to overcome my fears. The people were amazing and made the whole experience complete. My point with all this is that you don't have to have a boring desk job that you don't like. You could have a career doing something you love. It's just a matter of going after it! So go after it.


I’m blessed to do what I do.


So whether you are a professional photographer, portrait photographer, fashion photographer, street photographer, headshot photographer you can combine it all as a travel photographer and get your client a variety of styles from all over the world. This is my little piece of history I get to leave behind, and in 100 years when my grandkids, even great grandkids see my photography they will see a part of me, feel it and live it and to the degree that I can create an emotion within them I would have accomplished my purpose as an artist, create beautiful image that cause an effect!


Lifetimes ago I took my friends' actor headshots in Seattle when I was first starting out.  Back in the film days I worked at a photo lab.  Digital was just a distant dream.  I had access to a cheesy photo studio with simple umbrella studio lights.  The studio belonged to the photo lab I worked for.  The only thing I really knew about studio lights and photography was to point the camera at my subject and press the little button on the right side of the camera .  There was no YouTube back then and even though I graduated college with a degree in Fine Arts and a focus in Photography I didn’t really learn that much about photography.  As a side note the best way to learn is to just get out there and do it.  Back when I was getting started getting out there and just doing it cost money for the film, developing and getting prints.  Now, you can shoot all day at basically no cost (you may risk getting a callus on your index finger though if you shoot too much, but it won’t cost you anything).  Back to my “story”…I just crossed my fingers and took my good friend’s “headshots”.  Of course they were beyond terrible.  Laughable is really what they were.  Luckily he was a good friend and not paying me.   Sense then I’ve learned a few things beyond where the button is on the camera to take a photograph.  Hopefully this can help you with a few things too so you don’t have to waste time trying to photograph a friend or god forbid a paying client.


First let’s look at what a headshot is…well, it’s not a shot of your foot or your elbow.  Yep…it’s a photograph of your head.  Ideally it’s the front of your head, the side that has your face on it.  We’re off to a good start now.  One thing I think about with the headshots I take is whose attention do the headshots ideally capture?  That is something that you need to discuss with your client.  As a photographer that does tons of headshots it’s important that I can work with my clients and pull out of them the things that they have going for  them.  It’s easy when I have a beautiful subject in front of me to take photos to enhance or bring out those qualities.  When the subject is a bit more unconventional or “corky” then I like to use that to my advantage.  If they have crazy hair or a unique feature on their face then I’ll exaggerate that quality.  However I take a lot of shots as well that might make a unique feature not quite as noticeable.  The idea is to give your client options.  And just as important the goal is to give their agent options to use too as far as how they want to market their client.  My aim is always to make my subject look their best even if it means showing off some unique quality that they may not like about themself.  But even above that is to take images that accomplish the goal.  If it’s an acting headshot then the goal is to get headshots that book your clients work.


The more the shoot can be a collaborative experience the better.  Listen to your subject.  And ideally you can find a way to get your subject to listen to you.  If my client has a suggestion 99% of the time I do it, even if I don’t like it.  It makes for a more collaborative experience and ultimately better images.


There are lots of different categories of headshots.  Here are two major ones.


Business headshots or corporate headshots: As the photographer, keep it more on the simple side and listen to what your client needs and wants.  Corporate headshots tend to be more on the conservative side.  If you are the subject, think about who your ideal client is.  That’s a great place to start.  Then choose a wardrobe that matches that.  You might want to stand out but not so much that it turns people away.  So if you want to stand out a bit you could bring bright colored glasses, a unique pocket square, a tie that is a bit out there, a hairstyle that is not conservative.  Or if everyone in your field is in a suit and tie, maybe a button up collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up or even a t-shirt if you really want to stand out.  However you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons.  If you want to play it safe then stick with what is the norm for your industry.  Just make sure you research to find a great photographer.  Because you can stick with what’s the norm but make the photos great photos that really communicate what you want your message to be.


Acting headshots: As the photographer (I've been a LA headshot photographer for decades) our job is to get our clients headshots that book them work.  Figure out how best to communicate the style and character that they can likely book and get images that match that…pretty simple.  If you are the subject and need your first acting headshots or your 100th headshots it’s the same game.  Figure out what roles you want to book.  Then by surveying others in the industry and ideally your agent, see if what you want to book and what you most likely are going to actually book match.  If they match then roll with that and push for that.  If after surveying others in the industry and talking with your agent or potential agent the two don’t match, then be willing to adjust what you’re going for and go for what is going to be more likely for you to book the job.  Or even better if you aren’t really the leading man type but want those roles then figure out what can make you the leading man type.  Maybe research some unlikely leading man characters that weren’t the typical leading man type and figure out what they did and do what they did in your own way.  Once you have that nailed down make sure you have outfits that match the rolls you want to book.  I like to have my clients send me and my wife (my wife and I are business partners) selfies with the different outfits they are thinking about wearing on the shoot.  Then we can give our two cents on what we think the outfits communicate and make any adjustments.  Also when my clients get to our studio the shoot goes much smoother and A to B.  We can focus on the photo session and not worry about outfits.  Do your research, but don’t spend forever looking for the right photographer.  Find three or four photographers whose images you like then give them a call and see if you vibe with them.  If so, book them.  I would not try to cut corners and save a few bucks when it comes to your headshots.  A great headshot could be the difference between making it and not making it in this industry.


If you’re looking for a LA headshot photographer, actor headshots, corporate headshots, portraits etc give me a call anytime.  If you’re a starting out or a seasoned professional photographer and want to ask me any questions I’d be happy to chat with you.


Good luck!

Fashion shoot in Downtown LA


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