Something tells me that this is going to be a popular blog post…
Without a doubt, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is “How can I make more money as a fashion photographer?” In fact, most questions I have somehow relate back to money. Which is difficult, because I also struggle with the financial sides of things.
However, I’m getting better. And I’m learning more and more as the years go by. So today I’m going to make an attempt to answer this whopper of a question! Here goes:
Shoot E Commerce:
If you don’t know what e-commerce (aka e-comm) is, it’s basically the images you see on website to sell products. Think ASOS, H&M, Zara, and any brand with an online shop. Each and every single product displayed on a site needs to be photographed, and it needs to be photographed well. This can be a long day, if not many long days, but it also pays very well. It’s not very creative, as it often involves the same static poses over and over. Sometimes, it involves nothing but a mannequin as well, which then gets cut out in post production. Honestly, I’ve shot quite a lot of e-commerce now, and it can be really enjoyable if your team is nice, you’ve got lovely models, some good music going, and snacks!
More creative, and more “editorial” in style than e-commerce, lookbooks are what brands use to show off their products in a more creative way to their customers. These create more of a story, an aspiration, a way that clients can look at the clothes and picture them in context. These shoots are definitely lots of fun, and can pay as well. Generally, you will only shoot the key pieces of collections, rather than the entire collection, as you would with e-comm.
One of the main ways that I earn a living as a fashion photographer is through content creation. This is a relatively new way of earning, seeing as brands have really only been using social media effectively in the last couple of years. But the key here is that they are, and brands need more imagery than ever before. Brands need photos of their clothes throughout the year, for all seasons, special occasions, events, the list goes on. There is often less money in content creation, because you tend to spend less time on each project, but build a good relationship and the work can come in on a regular basis (which is never a bad thing!).
Although rarer, you can make money shooting editorial. Editorial is what you see in magazines, newspapers, etc. Magazines often have very little budget, if no budget at all to give photographers. However it does happen, so don’t rule it out.
Shooting ads will always be the most lucrative way to make money as a fashion photographer. Ads are where brands will put the most of their budget. The bigger the brand, the more the income will be. Ads are hardest to get booked for, for obvious reason, but they’re definitely the goal for most fashion photographers!
Line sheets are very similar to e-commerce or lookbooks, only these images are shot for fashion buyers, and not normally seen by the general public. Brands will bring photographers in to shoot their line sheets quite far ahead of time, and these images will then be used to create catalogs which get sent to buyers. These are often long days, and can be a bit dull, (similar to e-comm) however they do pay well. Generally speaking, you will have a lot of clothes to shoot, and some of them will also never end up making their way into the final production (because no buyers buy the items!).
Although this isn’t directly shooting, if you’re skilled in retouching and you enjoy it, fashion retouching is definitely a way to make money as a fashion photographer.
If you’re just starting out, and want to earn a living whilst learning and building your portfolio, assisting an already established fashion photographer is a great way to do so. I haven’t ever assisted myself, but if I’d moved to London after university, I would most definitely have assisted. I have plenty of friends who have, or are assisting, and the days can be long, and hard work, but they reap the rewards as well. Assistants get to learn from someone they admire, often get access to studios and kit on their days off, and make industry contacts along the way.
Stock photography gets such a bad rap, but with the birth of websites like Stocksy, stock photography can be really cool these days. There is more and more demand for less “stock-like” stock photography, and more cool, creative, editorial looking imagery. So if you want to give stock a go, it could be a great little money maker. I’m a contributor to Arcangel, a book cover stock website. Although I’ve not sold a photo yet, it’s not very difficult or time consuming to upload images, and you never know when you might sell one!
So there you go! 9 ways to make money as a fashion photographer. I hope that they spark a few ideas, or give you a bit of motivation towards making your fashion photography career work. You can make a good living in this job, it just takes a lot of hard work, and dedication.
Any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section!