How to become a fashion photographer

How to become a fashion photographer

How to become a fashion / music photographer – tips from a photographer who’s done it.

Whether you’re drowned in festival mud, being spat on by music fans or smooched and told ‘you look lovely too, darling’ by male models, you’ll never look back as a photographer, says Shirlaine Forrest. Do watch out for the flying beer cans though.

A fashion photographer job fits the bill for:

  • Most exciting jobs in the world
  • Jobs that allow piercings
  • Student jobs (get volunteer experience in a studio NOW – be prepared for later!)
  • Unusual jobs

How long have you been doing this? Do you need any special qualifications or work experience?

I’ve been photographing for eleven years, much more intensively for the last five. I have a degree and have been working for 8 years in film production, but completely self taught in photography.

Will this job get you cash-rich in a matter of months?

Erm, nope! You have to spend a while building up a portfolio and establishing your reputation, then you tend to get a mix of lower paid ‘arty’ shoots and the bigger magazine work. Most photographers are freelance, which means you really have to push yourself to get the work and pay the bills!

What are your main skills?

Aside from photography (lighting being a massive part of that) and photoshop, main skills would be surviving on very little sleep and driving like a demon to get to shoots on time.

Are there any job perks? Smooching with stars, looking beautiful all the time, that sort of thing? If you meet interesting people, who was the most interesting? Name names! List shocking and glamorous events!

There are tonnes of job perks ~ getting into gigs and festivals for free, meeting some amazing people. Without naming names, there are plenty of backstage drug addled rock star moments I try not to get too involved in!

What made you want to become a photographer?

As a filmmaker, I always tried to capture the essence of the story in every frame of every scene ~ what better way to do that than photography? It’s a wonderful challenge to create an image which tells the story in one shot, or to capture the atmosphere of a gig in one frame.

How physically or mentally demanding is the job? Do you pamper other people all the time? Do you ever get pampered yourself?

It can be very demanding ~ long hours, lots of rushing about and looking after other people. When I photograph a concert, magazine editors and photo agencies want the images edited and sent the same night, usually before the band are even off stage. Pampering goes out of the window, especially if you’re at a festival knee deep in mud ~ it’s all about making other people look good!

What would you say are the pros and cons of working in the industry?

Both the pros and cons are the people you meet ~ I’ve met some amazingly talented and wonderful people, and I’ve also had to deal with some loud, obnoxious and difficult types. The good guys make it all worthwhile though!

What are the pitfalls to watch out for?

A lot of people try to take advantage of upcoming photographers ~ whether it’s getting unending shoots for free, or putting you in situations you wouldn’t normally be comfortable in. You need to have the confidence in your abilities and your self to stand your ground!

What is your most hideous career moment to date?

Regularly getting covered in what I hope is beer thrown by the audience ~ if you can’t hit the stage, don’t be throwing your pints!

What is your most glorious career moment to date?

Having posters published in magazines, and photos used on CD covers is always an amazing feeling ~ when you speak to someone who has your poster on their wall, it’s kind of surreal in a good way!

Sexy uniform?

Erm, nope! Jeans and trainers which are guaranteed to be filthy by the end of the shoot!

Danger factor?

Fairly high ~ alongside the aforementioned ‘beer’, I’ve been hit by shoes, clothes and a variety of UFO’s. Stage divers tend to land on me foot or fist first, but the worst are the front row gropers!

Do you meet fit, clever, solvent blokes in your line of work?

All the time! Aside from the bands, there’s the male models, stylists, fellow photographers and the occasional fit crew member ~ what a nightmare!

What advice would you give to young women who are interested in this career path?

There are so many people trying to get into photography, I think it’s very important to develop your own style and stand out from the crowd. Have confidence in your work, and your self, and keep pushing forward!