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 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:

  • Color
  • Composition
  • 3D design
  • Photo printing
  • Lighting techniques
  • Digital photo editing and printing
  • Camera work
  • Photoshop

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
  • Logistics
  • 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 ( The BLS also reported that, in 2017, photographers earned a median of $32,490 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

  • Full Sail University

    Full Sail University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Full Sail University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Winter Park
  • 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

    Online Programs Available

  • Winthrop University

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    Popular programs at Winthrop University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

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    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • William T McFatter Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Davie
  • Western Iowa Tech Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Iowa: Sioux City
  • Waubonsee Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Sugar Grove
  • Milwaukee Area Technical College

    Campus Locations:

    • Wisconsin: Milwaukee
  • Tyler Junior College

    Campus Locations:

    • Texas: Tyler