When my wife and I began to explore the idea of starting a fashion blog last year, I assumed that most fashion bloggers hired professional fashion photographers to shoot their photos. The more fashion blogs that I discovered, however, the more I realized that was not the case. Fashion bloggers often publish between 3-5 outfit posts per week, and with so many different photo shoots, it just didn’t make sense that they would hire a professional photographer for each shoot.
In fact, the more I learned about the fashion blog community, the more that I realized that fashion bloggers often work with photographers that are very close to them, someone that wouldn’t mind shooting their photo frequently, and often for free. That person is usually a friend, family member, or partner who has the time and interest to help with their site. In my case, I have a background in blogging, design, and photography and post-processing, so when my wife and I decided to start a fashion blog together, I ended up becoming the blog’s “official” photographer/retoucher.
When my wife and I meet other fashion bloggers, I’m always excited to talk to their photographers. I really enjoy learning how they got involved with the blog, and talking to them about the gear and techniques that they use. I’ve found that fashion blog photographers are constantly looking for ways to improve their photos, and many of them ask me the same questions about photography, and post-processing.
In this article, I’d like answer a few of the questions that I hear most-often from other fashion blog photographers, and share a bit about what I have learned working with my wife on her blog. Below are a few simple photography and post-processing tips that you can use to help improve your fashion blog’s photos.
1. Shoot at Sunrise or Sunset
The best times of the day to shoot are at sunrise or sunset. If you shoot during midday, you may notice some shadows below the eyes and on the face. This is because the sun is directly above the subject. When you shoot at sunrise or at sunset, the sun is on the horizon, which means the light is hitting the subject more directly, which will make your photos ultimately look better.
In New York, I prefer to shoot early in the morning and on the weekend. Sundays are the best as there are fewer people around.
2. Shoot on Cloudy Days or in the Shade
Cloudy days are really great for photo shoots. Clouds will diffuse the sunlight and will make the light much less harsh. If there are no clouds, shoot your photos in the shadow of a building or under a tree. This will reduce or eliminate harsh shadows that you would otherwise see if you shot in direct sunlight.
3. Use a DSLR and a Nice Lens
Most fashion bloggers shoot their photos using a shallow depth of field. This means that anything in front of or behind the subject with be out of focus. To do this, you will need a DSLR camera with a lens that will give you a fixed aperture at any focal length.
When choosing a camera, choose one that fits your own needs and budget. I shoot with a Nikon D800. I love that camera, it shoots at a very high resolution and is built extremely well.
Most people will tell you that the lens that you choose is more important than your camera. I’ve found that to be fairly accurate. A really nice lens will let you shoot sharper photos with better bokeh (background blur). My favorite lens is my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8. It is a great zoom lens with a fixed aperture. That means the aperture will remain constant no matter what focal length I am shooting at.
Other lenses you might want to look in to are a 50mm or 85mm lens. Lots of fashion bloggers use those lenses, as well. Those lenses usually come in two varieties, a fixed f/1.8 or f/1.4. You should choose the lens that works best with your needs and budget.
4. Shoot in Raw Format
Most DSLRs will give you the option to shoot in either JPG or raw format. Raw images give you the most flexibility and will allow you to recover so much more data than you can in JPG. In some cases, this means that you can fix a photo that was either severely under or over-exposed. It also means that you can easily adjust things like white balance after the fact.
5. Use Leading Lines
Leading lines are lines in your photo that lead the viewer’s eyes to your subject. A leading line can be just about anything, a street, part of a building, a shadow, you name it. When I shoot photos, I am always looking for interesting geometry to place my subject around.
6. Give Yourself Plenty of Time for Hair and Makeup
If either you or your photographer is feeling frustrated before the shoot begins, it can affect the entire mood of the photo shoot, and translate into photos that you are not happy with. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get ready before the shoot. That way, you won’t feel rushed, and are much more likely to be happy with the resulting photos.
7. Be On Time to Photo Shoot
As I mentioned above, the best times to shoot are usually an hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. If you are late, you’ll miss your window. So make sure that you plan plenty of time to get ready and travel to your location. Otherwise there will be either too much light or too little to shoot.
8. Use Adobe Lightroom
When most people think of the app they should use to edit their photos, the probably think of Photoshop. While Photoshop is an incredible application, and is by far the most advanced photo editor around, Lightroom is by far the best application out there to manage your photo libraries and make quick color corrections to your photos. When I talk to other fashion blog photographers, I am shocked by how many have never heard of Lightroom. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can process and improve your photos using this application. Oh, and did I mention it is only around $150? You can even rent it for $9.99/month using the Adobe Creative Cloud. For $9.99/month you get Lightroom, Photoshop CC, as well as access to Lightroom Mobile.
9. Watch Your Crop
Be careful about how you crop your photos. If you use Instagram, you’ve probably noticed the gridlines that it displays when it allows you to crop. Those gridlines are there for a reason. When you’re cropping your photos, whether it is in Instagram, Photoshop, or Lightroom, try lining the focal point of your image up with those lines and see how you like the photos. For more information about this. See the Rule of Thirds.
10. Don’t Use Instagram Filters
When a photographer shoots your photos on an expensive DSLR, edits, and delivers them to you, please, PLEASE, don’t use Instagram’s filters on them. Instagram’s filters are meant to be used on photos taken with a mobile phone. They aren’t meant to be used on photos taken with a DSLR.
If you don’t like the way your photos are edited, talk to your photographer about it and see what they have to say first. Most of the time, the effect you’re looking for can be done in Photoshop or Lightroom with much higher quality than what can be done on Instagram. The photo below, for instance, was edited with Lightroom.
I have really enjoyed working with my wife on her fashion blog, It gives us something that we can do together, and has helped us to not only meet some pretty amazing people, but we’ve also learned so much. I hope that this article has given you some ideas on how you can improve your fashion blog photography, and I would love to hear your ideas, as well. If you have some great ideas, or even disagree with something I’ve written, please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below.