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Cape Town Fashion Photographer

Fashion Photography

Any professional and successful fashion photography shoot requires a lot of preparation work, as well as a small team of talented individuals, all working towards then end goal of creating something amazing .

The general routine of a fashion photography shoot, whether it’s for magazine editorial, online catalogues or large billboard prints, it all follows the same tried and tested structure to achieve the best results.

First and foremost, we need a plan, in comes…

The Brief

When I, as a Cape Town photographer, am commissioned to do a fashion photography spread for something like a magazine editorial, the idea or theme would normally be given by the editor of the magazine for a particular issue. The brief may simply be one word or a whole concept. I then discuss the brief with the art director or editor as to how it should be interpreted.

At this stage, I would determine the feel you want the photographs to have, such as:

  • “Do you want the viewer to be excited or calm?”
  • “Should they feel happy or sad when viewing the fashion photograph?”
  • “Are you wanting the photographs have vibrant colours or they be muted or desaturated?”

I decide what the brief means to me and how it would best describe my meaning within a fashion photography shoot. The final piece to factor in, is the budget and how to get the most optimal results while keeping within its bounds.

A basic quotation from my clients or advertising agencies includes the following items:

  • Date of shoot – Time of year and the weather in regards to it. I check my resources to make sure it won’t rain on something like a beach shoot. Not always a 100% but we do the best we can.
  • Date of ad launch/deadline – editing takes a lot of time and ample time is required to achieve best fashion photography results
  • Number of images required by my client
  • Usage terms, Also known as Base Usage Rate (BUR) which details how long my client will need to use the images for. This includes elements such as on what mediums (magazine, print, web etc.) and in which countries.
  • Visual reference/layout for how the ad will look like (as explained above).
  • Additional requirements and fees required to created the fashion photography shoot, such as studio rental, clothing stylist, hair stylist, makeup artist, models props and location scouting, fees & permits.

With all these boxes ticked, I move into the next phase of our fashion photography production.

Fashion Photography Treatment

Following the brief’s basic idea outline, we dive deeper into the look or ‘treatment’ we want for the fashion shoot.

Once the fashion shoot and budget are confirmed, I request a 50% deposit in order to flesh out the look and style we are after. I will then proceed in creating a fashion mood board presentation, detailing all the photographic aspects of the shoot, such as:

  • Fashion lighting and mood
  • Color treatment
  • Makeup and hair styles
  • Model’s poses and expressions
  • Camera angles and framing

I absolutely love fashion mood boards! They are an extremely powerful tool that makes sure everyone from the client, myself, the stylists and the model are all on the same page. A mood board is purely visual reference, which is by far more powerful than any written brief.

As they say, a “picture is worth a thousand words” and doesn’t hold more truth than in this example.

The mood board doesn’t just get used in this pre-production phase, but comes along for the ride through the entire shoot, to make sure the end look is met by all.

Fashion Model Casting

Casting is an extremely important part of production process as it defines the final look of the fashion shoot. Finding the perfect model, face and attitude, makes both my job and everyone else’s that much easier, resulting in more professional fashion photographs, achieved with so much more efficiency.

Casting is not only done to find a certain fashion look, but also to make sure that the fashion model is the right size for the clothing, in order for them to properly fit into it during the photo shoot.

The fashion casting starts by me contacting one of the local Cape Town model agencies and asking for a quotation, together with an attached package of their available models. From here I shortlist the faces that I feel suit our mood board and brief. I then contact my client, sending through my shortlist and we make a final decision how the model based on requirements and cost.

Makeup, Hair & Clothing Stylists

I cannot stress the importance of professional hair and makeup stylists. As a professional Cape Town fashion photographer, I don’t even begin to conceptualize a shoot without them being part of the final product, especially when shooting female fashion models.

Makeup and hair have the ability to really define an amazing fashion photograph from an average one, in the blink of an eye. This is even more true when the shoot requires very elaborate conceptual looks, that require a large amount of creativity and professionalism.

Makeup assists me during the editing stages as well. The more unwanted elements the makeup can cover, the more efficient and better I can do the final editing. A professional hair stylist can completely transform a dull image into a high end fashion on in just 30 minutes. The clothing stylist is very important in keeping with the theme of the shoot, even more so when the shoot is for a client’s clothing range and the focus is on it.

Unless the client has their own personal choice of stylists, I make use of my handful of top notch people in the industry that I know will deliver amazing results time and time again.

Preparation and Shoot Day

Once all has been decided and a date has been set, it is important to get the necessary permissions and bookings. For example, if we are shooting in a location, like a restaurant, then we need the permission from the owner. The client can either organize this side of things or be charged additional fees for it to be done from my side.

I proceed to make sure that the model from the fashion model agency is booked and ready to go the day before. I do the same with the rest of the crew, such as make-up artist, hair stylist and if needed, assistants. Food and water are an essential part of any shoot as nobody likes to work when they are hungry. In studio I can supply some music which also helps to set the mood while we are shooting our fashion masterpiece.

With all the pre-production done its finally time to start the fashion photography shoot. With all my fashion shoots, I like to stick to a schedule which includes everything from start to finish. I will provide a schedule to everyone involved so that they know how much time they have to do their part. This includes everything from driving time, setup, hair, makeup, clothing changes between styles, and shooting time per style. Makeup and hair times are dependent on the complexity required. A very creative feel is going to require much more time than a simple base and smoky eyes treatment.

Art and Model Direction

For most magazine editorials, there is normally one set of clothes outfit per page. So for a 6 page (either single page or double page) fashion photography spread, normally requires six sets of outfits and sometimes a different location per outfit if we are shooting in an outdoor location or need to change the look within the studio.

During the fashion photography shoot, all aspects including the clothes, the location, the model, the lighting and arrange all these variables need to be correct and in sync, to be a success.

I always ask the clothing stylist, make-up artist and hair stylist to look at their particular area and ensure that the model looks their best while the photograph is being taken. My focus is normally looking at the model’s poses and facial expressions, coupled with the lighting. It is difficult to keep an eye on everything else, such as the clothes not tuck in properly or the hair style has gone off. It is important to have your crew focused on their job, which is why I like to work with the best in the fashion industry, as I can rest assured that it will be done and I can focus on getting the best fashion photos for my client.

Post Production & Editing

Once the fashion photographs have been taken, I will need to process them from raw files to web and or print versions.

Before this happens though I do a few selection editing stages to eliminate images that are undesirable for whatever reason (bad hair position, model pose, focal issues etc). On a full day shoot, I shoot anywhere between 500 to 1000 images and when we only need say 20 for example, we really need to filter out even the good ones to find the perfect shots.

I then do a basic colour temperature, exposure compensation and contrast to adjust the images to a look we are after. Following this, I then meet with my client to show them the selected batch, where we then select the final images that they want to use for their advertising. During this set we take in consideration the page layout of the magazine. For example, should they require 5 horizontal based images and 6 vertical ones to fill the required spaces in the magazine, we need to find that amount of images.

I then take these fashion images and start a more advanced editing process to make sure they are of the best possible quality. Here I will send through watermarked preview versions of the final edits. Once client is happy and pays the remain 50% balance. I send or deliver the final images.

In Closing

I love being a Cape Town fashion photographer as it allows me to create art, as well as to work and meet so many new and talented people on a daily basis. I want to help you obtain the highest level fashion photographs for your client or requirement. Please contact me on for a quote, or visit my fashion photography portfolio at