7 Tips for Shooting Fashion Photos on a Budget
You don’t need a studio, experienced model, or grand budget to shoot awesome pictures. As I’ll show in this post, all you really need is a camera (even a phone will suffice!), a fashionable friend, and ok-ish weather. With those ingredients in mind, here are 7 elaborate tips on how to shoot awesome fashion photos, right outside your door.
Yesterday, I went to Lombok (Utrecht) to hang out with my good friend and fellow photographer, Simona. As we both had our cameras with us, and the weather was nice, once golden hour (the hour before sunset) hit, we put on our photography boots and headed outside.
I’ve deemed the photos we took “fashion photos” in the title because I feel like that’s the genre they fit best in, but the formula was basically Simona and me in the clothes we were wearing + our cameras, out on the street. Easy enough!
Here are some of my favorites, along with 7 tips from me to you on how to create awesome fashion / street / whatever shots with just your (phone’s) camera, a friend, and your neighborhood block.
(1) YOU ONLY NEED THE BARE ESSENTIALS: CAMERA + MODEL
Of course, a high-end camera, top-notch model, and a fully decked out studio probably aren’t going to make your photos worse. However, you don’t need them, especially if you’re just starting out. For these photos, I did use my professional gear myself, but I started photography taking pictures on my iPod Touch 4* for Instagram, and although that camera led to my pictures looking like abstract paintings more than anything else, it did teach me how to get creative. Nowadays, phone cameras are almost as good as the real deal, so even if you don’t have your own DSLR yet, that’s no excuse not to get out there! Grab a friend, dress her up in any way you (or they themselves) like, grab your phone, and get to shooting.
*Comment below if you want me to share pictures from my iPod Touch Instagram days in another blog post!
(2) HUNTING AROUND FOR THE PERFECT BACKDROP
To me, the beautiful thing about (improvised) street photography is that the whole world becomes your backdrop. If you’re really uninspired or live in a truly boring neighborhood, it might help to scout for some locations that really catch your eye beforehand, but in general I would say to just walk around and let your eyes wander. Of course you should just go off of what attracts you, but some things that I look out for when walking around are:
Bright colors and prints. Graffiti and street art. Think about colors that might complement or contrast your outfit well, and look for those.
Reflections. Especially with the low sun during golden hour, reflective surfaces can really help your photo POP. Look out for windows, water, or even shiny paint.
Strong lines. Horizontal, vertical, diagonal - as many as you can find. Lines are attractive to our eyes and can help you literally “direct” attention to your subject.
Locations with depth. Look for places where you can create a background, middle ground (probably where you’ll put the model) and foreground, to gain depth in your pictures.
My favorite location that we used yesterday was this bright yellow shopfront just across from Simona’s place. It had it all: bright colors, windows, strong lines, and plenty of depth.
Below, I’ll explain in more detail how you can use two of these - reflections and depth - to help lift up your photos.
(3) USING WINDOWS AND REFLECTIONS IN YOUR PHOTOS
There are many ways to use windows and reflective surfaces in your photography, but I’ll line out 4 ways here using photos from our shoot.
Bring in another color. In this photo A, I brought in a light blue accent by bringing in the window on the right.
Light & shimmers. In photo B, I used this really cool orange window with shiny blue painted sills to bring in a glittery highlight.
Shooting through the window. It depends a little on the location whether this is possible, as you might sometimes need to get inside - in photo C, I shot through 2 windows on a corner.
Introducing new backgrounds. By taking photo D from a lower angle, I was able to bring in the houses on the other side of the street in the windows, giving a cool, dynamic effect.
(4) ADD DEPTH TO YOUR PHOTOS IN ANY WAY YOU CAN
A lot of the time, adding in elements of depth can really make the difference between an “okay” and a “WOW” photo. Creating different layers of the photograph makes it a lot more visually interesting, and it helps your subject stand out.
Create depth through:
Playing with composition, for example by adding things into the foreground (Photo A & B) or choosing locations with different background levels.
Model poses. Have your friend a.k.a. model pose in ways that create depth, so for example by stretching out an arm towards the camera or leaning in a certain direction.
Use perspective lines. Take a little bit of distance from the shot and try to figure out directions of lines in your composition. How can you use them to direct attention where you want it to and create a sense of depth? In photo C, I used the perspective lines of the wall and door frames for this.
Create space between your model and the background. You can do this by literally leaving a certain distance between the model and whatever is behind them, but (if your camera allows it), using a high aperture, resulting in a blurry background, can also help in creating depth here (D).
(5) HAVE FUN WITH POSES
Yes, it’s awkward. Yes, people will stare. Yes, some of these poses will look ridiculous. But honestly - who cares! Creating is a process, and you’ll only get to the gold by digging through the mud. So choose someone you can laugh with, put on your sunglasses if need be (our tactic yesterday), and strut your stuff. Nothing is too crazy - in fact, make it a point to be as crazy as you can! Flap those arms around, squat, bend over, kick your heels into the air, and keep shooting.
Of course, if your friend-model doesn’t feel too comfortable, or if that’s the look you want to go for anyway, you can also keep it relaxed and clean, and use some of the “lean against the wall” / “look over the shoulder” poses you can also find in these shots. But those too will look best if they come from a relaxed place. Point is - stop stressing, start strutting.
(6) TAKE YOUR TIME AND TRY OUT DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES
On a related note - to get the best out of those poses, TAKE. YOUR. TIME. It happens so often that I’m screaming at models “no no no no go back!!” / “HOLD THAT HOLD THAT”, because it’s really easy to just keep going from pose to pose and from shot to shot. However, I’ve learned throughout the years that the best shots often arise when I take my time and take multiple shots of one pose, from different perspectives. Patience is key.
For example, when Simona hit the pose below, I asked her to hold it for a while and took photos from 3 perspectives, in order from left to right:
Now, I don’t even know which one I like best (which one do you like best? Let me know in a comment!), but each photo has a completely different vibe to it. And by moving around this one pose, I also got new ideas composition wise again. Key message: take your time, and don’t be afraid to ask your friend-model to hold a pose for a while. That’s what they’re there for!
(7) EDITING YOUR SHOTS AFTERWARDS
I can’t really give any one-for-all tips editing wise, as the software you want to use, if you even want to edit at all, will differ from person to person. However, there are some broad things I want to note here:
If you took photos on your phone, why not also edit them on your phone? My favorite photo editing apps are VSCO and Afterlight. You can either pop on pre-made filters, or adjust all kinds of settings yourself.
When you’re shooting outside and it’s sunny, you can easily get extreme shadows and highlights, so pay extra attention to this in your edit. Sometimes you can take that drama even further, at other times you might want to fade out the shadows a little to gain back some detail.
If you know me and my work, you know I’m not scared of editing. I’ll gladly play around with colors, grain, fades, what-have-you. However, to keep your street photos looking professional and clean, I would try to stay away from drastic edits as much as possible. If you did it right, your shot will already have everything it needs before editing, and by staying close to real life, it’ll look more like authentic street photography.
SHOW ME YOUR WORK & LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!
That’s all for now! Let me know what you thought of the post and whether there are other topics you would like me to write about.
Also, if after reading this post you’ve gone out to take pictures with some of these tips in mind, please send me them - I would love to see your work! Scroll down for all the (social media) channels where you can reach me.
ALSO - CHECK OUT SIMONA!
Obviously, Simona also took a bunch of (awesome!) photos of me, the other way around. Check out Simona’s instagram and her photos of me below. She’s amazing, give her some love!