When shooting fashion or beauty for an editorial/commercial market the most important thing will always be the team – No Exceptions.
The model will be the most important part of this team – The subject of your images.
This is something that aspiring photographers take a lot of time to understand. And aspiring photographers find a lot of excuses around this fact. (Of course, the ones that do get it, are not aspiring for long).
Fashion or Beauty Model?
Pretty girls make awful models. Yes, this is the truth.
Here are the photos that show up when I google “beautiful girl”
You will notice some things that all (or most) of them have in common: round features, lack of sharp/noticeable bone structure and a soft expression (also probably there is not enough variety of expressions/poses) – These are pretty girls.
Models are not pretty girls, models are very special creatures, that can be found everywhere in the world, but distribution wise, they are only 0,02% of the population. And the fact is that you need a model to shoot fashion and beauty, not a pretty girl.
This is what shows up when I google “beauty editorial” – See the difference? Deep bone structure, extraordinary features, unique expressions and poses, distinctive characteristics.
If you don’t have a model, shoot something else, do portraits with character, do stylized lifestyle, glamor, or conceptual fine art. For those, you can use regular people.
Because, if you try to shoot fashion or beauty photography with a normal looking person (as beautiful as they may be), you will fail and no photoshop will help you there.
I can´t stress this enough – You just can´t shoot beauty and fashion without a represented model or someone with real model´s stats.
If you can’t pay for a model because you’re starting out and only shooting self-founded editorials/submissions or portfolio material, agencies usually have something called new faces. The agencies need images and experience so they will let you “borrow” some models in exchange for some images.
How do you approach agencies? With a tasteful portfolio, an idea and a team.
Portfolio: You can´t go to agencies without something to show, of course. You need to convey that you can shoot people in a good light and you have good taste.
Things that automatically eliminate you from Fashion/Beauty Agencies
- Having stereotypical glamor images (tits & ass) in your portfolio
- Having dark, deviant-art-like, digital art images with composites of dark rooms and spiders or vampires
- Having wedding images in your portfolio – Fashion and wedding RARELY mix and you’d better keep those genres separated in your social media
- Having images that try to be fashion or beauty with non-models (see above)
- Having filtered or over-processed images
Things that could help you:
- Since you don´t have models yet – shooting good portraits of both male and females
- Having lifestyle images
- ONE SHOOT – done right with a woman that looks like a model (everything else should be good, idea/makeup/styling) and instead of siding out your port sending only that shoot so they see only that of your work.
An Idea: You can´t go to or call/email an agency saying “I want to shoot something”, you need to have something more organized and precise if you want to be taken seriously. You could even send them a brief or a mood board.
A Team: While you can ask for models just to test light, the agency will be more inclined to lend you models when they know you have a team to create images they can use
Styling: If you´re shooting fashion you need…. well… fashion.
- Having great clothing/accessories, styled by a professional, is a must.
- Cheap fabrics and bad finishing destroy images.
So start building your connections with every new designer out there, offer to shoot their collection, with another designer’s accessories and another designer’s shoes all for free and you got yourself the possibility to actually shoot an editorial piece with their stuff.
Fashion stylists are really hard to come by but indispensable to put outfits together.
If you can´t find a fashion stylist, wardrobe producers or even designers directly are usually quite fine with people shooting their stuff for free, especially if you have a submission in mind.
Especially important for beauty work, a trained MUA, who knows how to apply make up for photography and understands color palettes as well as lighting.
A hair stylist who is as much of a control freak as myself ?
Finally, but not less important, of course, a retoucher:
If you can’t retouch yourself or don’t have the time to retouch properly, you need a retoucher. Most starting photographers assume this is something they need to do themselves. This is not true.The retoucher is an important part of that team, you don’t do your own make up or design the clothing or style them, why would you think you should do the retouching? It’s a different skills set and it takes a lot of time to do it right. I always advice photographers to be proficient with retouching to build that FIRST portfolio that will get you the better team.