Commercial Fashion Shoots: How to Prepare

Today we’ll look behind the scenes of one type of commercial photography. You’ll learn the whats and hows of preparing to photograph fashion models. And you’ll see how this work reaches beyond just photography—it’s largely about meeting, calling, and communicating with people.

The Topic

Each client has their own demands, and you’re not a mind reader. Get ready to spend more time travelling and talking than taking pictures. How much the above is true will depend on the shoot topic—which will generally come from the client. Your job is to provide a good location, as well as any props and anything else needed for the shoot. For example, if the shoot demands modern-looking spaces, you have to find them and call to arrange renting them.

Ideally you should offer the client several siting options and let them choose one. If they’re in another city or state, don’t let that make you hesitate. Travelling as part of photography work is normal. You need to find a make-up artist, hairstylist, and stylist, and prepare to start calling, writing, and meeting with people. Almost the same applies for props—and for eveything. Your job (or your staff’s job) is to both to do the shoot and to make the shoot possible.


Finding models tends to be the easy part. You can just contact a modeling agency, send in your requirements, and work with their offer. But if you want to find a model yourself, use social networks, your own website, or the special websites that exist for this task. Always describe what’s involved and what you’re offering. Ask potential models to send an e-mail with a model portfolio, their experience, and their clothing size. Send these emails on to the client; they will choose the models they want. Don’t forget to prepare a model release for the shoot.


Assistants are essential for any big shoot. It’s always good to have someone for e.g. holding reflectors, passing you lenses, and backstage photography. As a photographer handling jobs of this size, you probably have photographer fans who will be very glad and willing to assist you!

Assistants assist... and they take backstage pictures too.
Assistants assist… and they take backstage pictures too.

The Shoot Itself

Arrive at the site long before the shooting begins. That way you can oversee makeup and hairstyling—and also tour the spaces you’ll be using. Make sure that everything’s working as it should. You will take the fall for any problems, so be thorough!

When it finally comes time for you to press the trigger, be hard on yourself and your team. Be uncompromising! You know what you want to have in your photos, and how you want them to look. Your client will appreciate that, and that means more future orders, and clients too.

The Very Same Day

Download your photos and do your basic edits on the day of the shoot. Upload them to, for example, Zonerama, into a password-protected album, and send them to the client. At that point the emotions from the shoot have not yet subsided, your client will also appreciate your quick reaction, and some of the situations from the shoot will still be fresh on their minds. Then it’s up to the client which photos they pick for finalizing and non-basic edits.

Send your client selected photos in a password-protected album. They’ll use that to choose final pictures.
Send your client selected photos in a password-protected album. They’ll use that to choose final pictures.

Some Advice in Closing

Can you—? Yes. Yes, you can. Yes, your client can too.
Keep your client informed on every step that you take (finding a space, finding the models, etc.).
Note that for this kind of photography, no pennies are pinched. There will be costs. The client takes that for granted.

How the final pictures will be used is a matter of your agreement. These photos were taken for the menswear manufacturer
How the final pictures will be used is a matter of your agreement. These photos were taken for the menswear manufacturer

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AuthorMajo Elias

I’ve been taking pictures since 2004. When I was starting out, I photographed almost everything. Later my style solidified and I began photographing people almost exclusively. At the moment my main genres are fashion and advertising.

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