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. Schools offering Photography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

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 composition.

Degrees Associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as certification programs
Career Outlook Expected to grow 4% between 2012-2022
Salary (2014) $30,490 per year (median)

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 a desired look for your photos. You are often the director of a photo shoot, and select the staging elements, 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 and master's degrees 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 a certificate program, you study color and composition, 3D design, photo printing and lighting. In an associate's degree program, you begin incorporating fashion photography methods into your studies. In these programs, you learn digital photo editing and printing, fashion photography lighting and techniques, camera work and how to use Photoshop.

In a bachelor's degree program you learn about the elements of style, composition, lighting and portraiture 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. These classes include fashion design studios, color theory, digital photography uses in fashion and logistics. You also learn career development, participate in critique studios and work on group projects designed to provide you with simulated professional experience.

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 2014 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for photographers are expected to increase 4% over the 2012-2022 decade ( The BLS also reported that, in 2014, photographers earned a median of $30,490 per year.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • The Art Institutes

    The Art Institutes responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The Art Institutes:

    • High School Diploma

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Arlington
  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Saint Mary's University of Minnesota responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • William T McFatter Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Davie
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Western Iowa Tech Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Iowa: Sioux City