Fashion Photography: Education and Career Facts
Fashion photographers are not required to have formal education, but photography programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels can provide training in lighting, color theory, Photoshop and fashion photography techniques. Read on for more information about programs of study, potential places of employment, career outlook and salary.
What You Need to Know
A degree is not usually required to become a fashion photographer, but many programs are available, from certificate programs through master's degrees. These programs may include classes on using different kinds of cameras, processing film and different photographic compositions.
|Degrees||Associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as certificate programs|
|Career Outlook (2016-2026)*||Expected to decline 6% (all photographers)|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$32,490 per year (all photographers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Does a Fashion Photographer Do?
As a fashion photographer, you work with fashion designers, magazine editors and advertising firms to develop pictures to use in the promotion of a fashion product. You also work with fashion models, make-up artists, wardrobe specialists and lighting technicians to achieve the desired look for your photos. You are often the director of a photo shoot and select the staging elements, compose the lighting design and direct the models to best display the product.
What Degree Do I Need?
You do not need a degree to work as a fashion photographer. However, certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's programs in photography are available. A certificate or degree program provides instruction on the technical and creative aspects of photography. In these programs, you create a portfolio of work to show potential employers.
Because of the hands-on components of photography training, most programs are not available online. Some programs may allow you to complete general education classes online and only visit campus for photography labs.
What Would I Study in a Photography Program?
Most certificate programs provide a general overview of photography techniques and do not specifically focus on fashion photography. In an associate's degree program, you begin incorporating fashion photography methods into your studies. In these programs, you learn about the following areas of interest:
- 3D design
- Photo printing
- Lighting techniques
- Digital photo editing and printing
- Camera work
What About Courses in a Bachelor's or Master's Degree Program?
In a bachelor's degree program you learn about the elements of style, as well as the business and marketing aspects of the fashion industry. In a master's degree program you are often able to complete several fashion photography-specific classes. You also participate in critique studios and work on group projects designed to provide you with simulated professional experience. Here are some of the course topics you might find in your degree program:
- Portraiture techniques
- Fashion design studios
- Color theory
- Digital photography uses in fashion
- Career development
What Are My Career Prospects?
Careers in fashion photography are highly competitive. You may find employment with a fashion magazine, designer, design firm or an advertising agency. Many fashion photographers work as freelance or contract workers.
According to a 2017 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for all photographers are expected to decline 6% over the 2016-2026 decade (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported that, in 2017, photographers earned a median of $32,490 per year.