Fashion photography is creative, fun and fulfilling work, where every project is something new and diverse. Fashion photography allows you to travel to exotic locations, meet renowned models and live a glamorous life, in theory at least. But also, it is important to note that a fashion photographer has to work within tight deadlines and expectations of clients. Sometimes carrying heavy and expensive equipment everywhere can be challenging.
We interviewed Prabhjot Singh, a well-established fashion and product photographer based in Delhi. He gave us great insights into how the Photography industry has advanced, with increasing competition along with camera quality and gear. We have made a step-by-step guide to help you pursue a career as a fashion photographer in India with his guidance.
Steps to Become a Fashion Photographer in India
Step 1: Develop Your Photography Skills
The first step in pursuing a career as a fashion photographer is to develop your photography skills. You can start by learning the basics of photography, including camera settings, lighting, composition, and editing for both indoor and outdoor shoots. Attend photography workshops, take online courses, or enroll in a photography degree program to enhance your skills.
There are constant advancements in the industry and therefore skill building is important for the industry. He gives an eye-opening insight into what actually makes a photographer. He says “You can’t get a camera and watch videos on YouTube and become a photographer. It can make you a camera operator, but not a photographer. Similarly, you can call anyone a videographer but not a cinematographer, it takes a lot more than just knowing how to operate the camera. There’s a lot that goes into it”. It’s your creative insight that makes your artwork stand out ultimately.
Step 2: Get Equipment for Your Fashion Photography
If you plan on pursuing a career in fashion photography, it might be worth investing in your own equipment. You can purchase cameras, lenses, lighting, and other accessories from authorized dealers in India.
“Earlier, Photography was an art. Even the competition was low. There were very few devices and hence, a photographer had to be very prepared at all times and take a calculated timed picture because the reels were limited”. He says that now, the competition has increased along with the chances of clicking good pictures no matter what, since there are endless affordable devices and unlimited storage.”
If you are just starting out in fashion photography or need specialized equipment for a specific shoot, renting equipment might be a better option. There are several camera and equipment rental companies in India that offer a wide range of equipment on rent. Some popular rental companies include Gear Focus, Rentsetgo, and SnapBrew. Have a plan and vision, and equipment will not be a problem.
Courtesy- Gear Focus
Step 3: Build Your Portfolio
Building a strong portfolio is crucial for any aspiring fashion photographer. Your portfolio should showcase your best work and highlight your unique style. Start by collaborating with models, makeup artists, and stylists to create stunning fashion images. You can also create personal projects to showcase your creativity and versatility. Just remember to be unique and do something that will amaze your audience.
He says, “If there was a mantra for becoming a successful photographer, everyone would become it”. According to Prabhjot, the first step towards getting into your domain of Interest under the photography industry, is building your portfolio. It’s how you’re going to present your work and let people know that you know what you’re getting into.
For example: If you’re getting into model photography, how will you show people you’re skilled at it? You prepare a portfolio. Then you won’t need to explain your work, you can present it in front of others.
Courtesy- Indrajeet Bhonsale
Check out Natalia Verma’s portfolio in Vogue to get an understanding of what things to include.
Step 4: Assist Established Fashion Photographers
Assisting established fashion photographers can provide valuable hands-on experience and help you learn the ins and outs of the industry. Look for opportunities to assist photographers at fashion shows, photoshoots, and advertising campaigns. This will also give you an opportunity to network and make valuable connections in the industry. Some of the very well-known fashion photographers in India are Dabbu Ratnani, Arjun Mark, Avinash Gowariker, Rid Burman.
Read about their journey and apply that knowledge in your life as well. The objective of fashion photography is to market their clothing to society.
“To grow as a photographer or in any other field, it depends on how much a person has gained experience and implement that knowledge the best way. Patience is key in this industry. Take inspiration, gain knowledge and implement it.”
Step 5: Network and Promote Yourself
Networking is essential for any career in the fashion industry. Attend fashion shows, industry events, and photography exhibitions to meet other photographers, models, designers, and stylists. Some popular events in India include Lakme Fashion Week, Amazon India Fashion Week, and India Fashion Forum. You can read more about upcoming photography events in detail in this blog. Social media is also an excellent tool for promoting yourself and your work. Create a website or a blog to showcase your portfolio and share your experiences with potential clients.
The fashion industry is a big one and you need to be highlighted. No one is going to make the effort of searching for someone. You must promote yourself. You might not earn well enough at the start but accompany others as a helper to photo shoots or events. You’ll get valuable experience from them. Post about the event on your social media profile. And for next time, the client may reach out to you directly.
Step 6: Pursue Internships and Job Opportunities
Gaining industry experience through internships and job opportunities can be highly beneficial. Look for internships at fashion magazines, advertising agencies, and photography studios. You can also work as a freelance photographer and build your client base. You can apply on Job searching sites like Naukri, Indeed etc.
Currently, LinkedIn is the best platform to search for opportunities. Share your portfolio on your LinkedIn profile and post updates with your latest work. This can help showcase your talent to potential employers and give them a sense of your style and skill level. LinkedIn makes a CV by its own and you can filter jobs by location and industry to find relevant opportunities.
You can also become a stock photographer, though initially it might not be the most sustainable. You have to upload your content on stock footage sites like Indievisual.in (that’s us) and earn a share of profit every time your content gets sold. It could be a really good source of secondary income.
Step 7: Stay Updated and Keep Learning
The fashion industry is constantly evolving, and as a fashion photographer, it is essential to stay updated with the latest trends and techniques. Attend workshops, take online courses, and read fashion magazines to stay informed and up to date with the latest fashion trends. Subscribe to leading fashion magazines such as Vogue India, Harper’s Bazaar India, and Elle India to stay updated with the latest fashion news, trends, and interviews with industry leaders.
Keep checking on the new trends on social media. Follow relevant social media accounts related to fashion photography, such as leading photographers, models, fashion brands, and photography publications. You have a higher chance of getting your work viral over there. And you can use relevant hashtags when posting your work on social media to increase your visibility and reach.
Earnings of a Fashion Photographer
Your salary as a fashion photographer in India can vary greatly, depending on several factors such as experience, company or brand they are working with, the project they are working on, and the city they are working in.
Some fashion photographers charge a flat fee for their services, while others charge based on the number of hours worked or the scope of the project. Freelance fashion photographers may earn more or less depending on their workload and availability of projects.
The income ranges between 1.1 lakhs to 7.5 lakhs, and the average income being 4.5 lakhs per annum. But the salary can also go up if the photographer has good experience and ends up working with premium magazines or brands.
By staying updated with industry trends, continuously honing your skills, and being open to new opportunities, you can establish a successful career in this exciting and dynamic industry. You just have to start your journey and your passion will drive it.
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