Building Your Early Fashion Portfolio so You Can Land a Job

Those with an interest in working as fashion photographers may have earned their bachelor’s degree but do not know quite how to get started. It is much easier for a photojournalist to enter the field of photography than a fashion photographer to get started since you can get a job with a newspaper readily.


Landing a position with a magazine takes longer and you need a varied portfolio. Many photographers build their early portfolios by shooting with models on test shoots. This type of shoot either tests equipment or concepts. Typically, on a test shoot, each person volunteers their time, although the photographer might pay a small kit fee to the makeup artist since the makeup for professional photoshoots costs quite a bit.


Where do photographers come up with concepts? Both photographers and models go through magazines and the Internet to find ideas they like and find individuals that also want to create an image like that. Some photographers may visit museums to view work by those they respect. They might purchase a book of the photographer’s work, such as Annie Liebowitz or Maplethorpe.


Rather than copying the images directly, the photographer takes inspiration from them. They consult with the MUA and the hairstylist to create an original concept based on the original image.


They might use the pose or the makeup or the lighting as the inspiration but they never copy the photo directly. Working with the MUA and stylists brings other ideas to the table to create a photograph that each person can use in their portfolio.


A photographer starting out in fashion might also agree to work with an MUA, model, or another individual to create a photo they find inspiring. This can create a win-win since each individual uses their own talents and the final product provides a useful image for each person’s portfolio.


Many fashion photographers focus on trying to find paying work outright, but they have to have an existing portfolio to find paying work. Building a portfolio while still in college works well. You can trade skills with actors and actresses studying at the same college who need headshots. They will also need action shots for public relations packets for their student productions. These photos show scenes from a play as they take place on stage.


Putting together a portfolio to find work can seem daunting, but with a little artful planning, you can graduate with your BA in photography and a fully developed fashion portfolio that lets you land a job right out of college.


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