Let the light paint your story


Blog by Dali Ma Photography, Phoenix Aperture, California Fashion Photographer based in Orange County.

How To Work With Fashion Photographers And What To Expect

All photos in this blog are done by Dali Ma, Phoenix Aperture

Nowadays there's an abundance of fashion photographers, especially in Southern California - Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, the heart of Hollywood, where fashion is an inevitable topic. Finding the right fashion photographer that suits your brand is only the first step; how to best work with the photographer to produce the most beautiful, and the most efficient fashion photos for your brand is even more important.

This blog is about once you have found the best possible photographer, how to work with them best so you can get the results you want - beautiful fashion editorial photos that sell.


Communication Is Key - Provide Enough Information

One of the most important things in fashion photography is communication. More often than not, you landed your ideal photographer based on his/her portfolio. A photographer's portfolio usually is a representation of certain styles, and they usually tend to represent their creative skills, not necessarily their eCommerce skills, but it doesn't mean they don't possess such skills either.

Therefore due diligence is needed to communicate with the photographer what you would like or not like to see in the final results, since your ultimate goal, as a business owner, boutique owner, or designer, is to represent your products or design.

If you would like the photographer to highlight a certain part of your design, say so.

If you would like the photographer to stylise the photos for a lookbook, say so.

If you like the photographer to capture the combination of your clothing, outlook of the day, say so.

Don't let your photographer guess what you are trying to showcase.

Hire a Makeup and Hair Artist (MUA or MUAH)

Don't every underestimate the power of a Makeup and Hair Artist, and don't ever assume a model can do make up for herself, even if she says so.

A great make up artist will ask questions like:

What's the location? What are the colours of the clothing? Can I see pictures of the model both with and without makeup? What's the theme or mood board of the shoot? etc.

The difference the MUA or MUAH makes can be huge. They provide the extra depth of taste, mood, and style to the final images, especially when you are aiming for that high fashion, or edgy feel. There are a lot of times, in my personal experience, a MUA or MUAH contributed tremendously to my photoshoot, and here are two examples from the same photoshoot, and you can clearly see the total difference it makes to have a MUA or MUAH on site.

Choose Your Photoshoot Location Wisely

As mentioned before, your ultimate goal is to sell your products, or be published by magazines. In either case, the location will determine what kind of general mood you have. Do consult your photographer beforehand for locations that he or she is comfortable with. More likely than not, your photographer will have experience shooting in multiple locations, and even if you suggest a location that he or she has never been to, the photographer will still be able to help you judge whether it's good for your shoot, and eventually for your sales or publication.

And no matter if you are going for sales or publication, location represents the style your products are supposed to be used in, as well as the editorial story you are trying to tell.

I'm based in Southern California, and there's a ton of great photography locations here in Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego, for example, Pasadena City Hall, Disney Concert Hall, Joshua Tree, LA Art District, etc.

Photoshoot location represents your product category, as well as the editorial story you are telling.

Photoshoot location represents your product category, as well as the editorial story you are telling.

Set Your Requirements And Get Out Of The Way

As a business owner, boutique owner or designer, you have your creative ideas, however it is important to leave the photographer alone once the expectation is set, and give the photographer complete creative freedom. After all, you hired the photographer because of his or her photography and creative skills, otherwise, why not just do it yourself?

But you just said communication is key?!
— Frustrated photography client

Yes, exactly. Communication means giving the photographer the information he or she needs, to facilitate the creativity inspired by your beautiful designs and products, your perfect choice of location, and the contribution of the MUA. Never try to get in the way and tell the photographer that he or she needs to get this background, have that composition. You can give suggestions, by all means, and they are absolutely welcome. But trust the photographer in his or her skills. Once you've given the free environment, you'll discover the spontaneity and inspiration blooming. When communication do happen, you'll find it's more geared towards wonderfulness, rather than frustration.



Putting together a photoshoot is a lot of work. A good photographer possesses the skills to conceptualise the photoshoot before it happens. Make sure you communicate with the photographer on what's needed, and if you are hiring the models yourself, make sure you communicate to the photographer who the models are, let them get acquainted. Let the photographer know the venue or location beforehand. Provide inspirations, mood boards, etc.

And don't forget to have fun!