The world of fashion photography is one of the most diverse and challenging areas of photography that you can be involved in, whether as a professional, a client or someone wanting to create images for their own brand. Your toolkit will eventually be made up of an eclectic mix of photography equipment, fashion props and tools and homemade items to help solve a particular problem.
However, to start with, there are three essential areas of your toolkit that you shouldn’t do without:
Camera, Lens & Tripod
Perhaps the most obvious one – the camera. Fashion photography is all about generating the best quality images and so time should be spent research and understanding the type of cameras on the market, how they fit with your budget and then choose accordingly. Important aspects of the camera which determine the quality of the image include the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. We are fortunate that the internet has a wealth of articles and experts to support you in learning about these tools and making decisions.
The choice of lenses and the technical detail involved is enough to confuse the best of us, no matter the type of product photography you’re involved in. Each area of photography has its own suggestions for lens specification and fashion is no different, so it’s vital you obtain expert advice on the best type to purchase. You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune and some will overlap with other styles. However, studio shots will require a different one to location shoots, due to the backgrounds and environmental differences.
Added to the camera and lens toolkit essential is a tripod. These allow for stability and continuity in your photographs, not to mention the fact that some of these cameras aren’t light and a long photoshoot can be a challenge.
In essence, all types of photography including fashion photography are about capturing light and turning this into information, in the form of an image. As a photographer, if done correctly, you have the ability to create the best light and capture it effectively. In a studio environment, you’re able to have almost full control over the lighting when compared to on-location, giving you a distinct advantage.
Some of the types of lighting equipment that will allow you to do this include light meters to check the exposure is set up correctly, monolights and ring lights, reflectors and beauty dishes. Each has its own benefit to a particular area of fashion and so prior to purchasing equipment, evaluate whether it will add value to your project and prioritise accordingly.
Background & Effects
This is where you will have more freedom to experiment and incorporate your brand vision and story. There are some basic pieces of equipment to purchase and these include plain backgrounds, which will allow you to generate clean, uniform photos where the focus is on the product itself. From here, you can begin to think about different styles of screens and props that create a story or theme to match your products. You will find this is probably the most creative and enjoyable part of your equipment plan because it lets your creative juices flow and visualise how the project will look.
Ultimately, we could list a hundred things that should be in your toolkit but without getting the essentials right then the rest would be a waste of money. Take your time to research, understand your own requirements and how they translate into equipment and you’ll be just fine!