How To Shoot a Fashion Editorial

As a fashion photographer, shooting an editorial is a stepping stone in the development of your portfolio and recognition with the fashion world. Editorial work allows you to showcase your creative ideas, understand the importance of using your images to tell a story and helps you gain exposure in the photography community. When planning to shoot a spread for a magazine, here are the few components and steps you need to consider.

Photo by Kayla Mendez

How To Shoot a Fashion Editorial: Finding a Magazine that Matches Your Style

Too often I find that photographers have hopes and dreams of shooting for a particular magazine. While having a goal to work toward is great, you need to first examine your photography style and content, comparing it with the magazines that are currently available. For example;

If you shoot only digital, you cannot pitch your images to a magazine that only publishes film work.

If you shoot urban street fashion, your style won’t work for a magazine that publishes feminine, dreamy imagery.

If you don’t have access to couture fashion pieces, you cannot publish to a magazine that only wants designer labels such as Gucci or Prada.

Although this may seem limiting, focusing on what magazines fit with your style actually allows you to narrow down where you will want to submit your shoot. With the saturation of print and online publications, finding your personal niche allows for a higher probability of your work being recognized and considered for an upcoming issue. So, while conceptualizing your artistic ideas and moodboard, start searching for magazines that align with your idea and vision. I recommend consulting Instagram, sites that look for open submissions such as Kavyar and a Google search that contains your style of fashion photography with magazine or publication, ex. “beach lifestyle magazine.”

To help you get started, I’ve included some publications below that allow for submissions and direct pitches:

For Analog/Film Photographers – Teeth Magazine

For Indie Style – Cake Magazine

For Fashion + Beauty – LadyGunn

Fine Art/ High Fashion – Monrowe

Photo by Kayla Mendez

How To Shoot a Fashion Editorial: Pitch the Idea, Before or After Shooting the Spread

Shooting an editorial can sometimes be a hit or miss project. The more established you become as a photographer, the better your chances are of being approached and commissioned to shoot for an esteemed publication. Yet, even if you’re starting off, a great editorial can be pitched to a variety of magazines. Be aware that these editors receive a handful of inquiries and submissions, so best to figure out who the key players are in decision making. If you can land the contact information of the fashion editor, photography editor or art director – be sure to reach out to them as a point of entry into having your work considered.  

If you’re going to pitch the idea prior to shooting, it is best to have your team in mind as well as a mood board to show your direction and vision. Most magazines will easily pass up an idea that has no set intention and style, so begin with the creative. If you’re shooting an editorial and decide to pitch the idea afterward, make sure you have a title and backstory of your inspiration to accompany the images. Publications want to see a story that is cohesive, fits into the style of their previous spreads and will entice their existing readership.

Photo by Kayla Mendez

How To Shoot a Fashion Editorial: Find a Model

Depending on the magazine you intend to submit to, the model you use can be a variety of individuals. For smaller publications focused on the vision and artistic nature of your work, you could probably get away with using a model who is a beginner or not signed by an agency. In this case, focus on the makeup and styling direction as well as the location elements of your shoot – if your subject can deliver your idea some publications won’t mind you using an unsigned model.

Now, for established magazines, there is no doubt that you will need a signed model from an agency. Unfortunately, this is just the norm when it comes to shooting for a magazine with national and international reach. It comes down to credibility and connection, two aspects that are vital to consider when pursuing fashion photography.

Luckily, The Hub is full of both unsigned and signed models that you can connect with in your area. Whenever I am searching for someone to work with, I always consider the direction and moodboard when reaching out to a potential subject. Be sure to explain your project, send them ideas and offer your insight – this will kick-start the process of working together to create a cohesive spread.

Photo by Kayla Mendez

How To Shoot a Fashion Editorial: Find a Makeup Artist

On the same note, finding a makeup artist for your editorial really comes down to your established network. When I have an idea in mind, I reach out to my existing contacts and pitch the concept to them in the same matter as with my model. Creating a moodboard for makeup that pairs with the intended wardrobe can help determine whether the project is something the artist will want to be involved in. The only problem I ever face with finding a makeup artist is their availability. Makeup artists and stylists tend to have more work than photographers – usually working on a shoot or project almost every day – so, it’s best to reach out with enough time for them to plan. Lastly, be sure to mention whether the editorial will be paid, expenses will be covered or unpaid. The more established your team becomes, the less inclined they will be to shoot something without compensation – unless the magazine’s standing would allow for heightened exposure. As a general rule in professional photography, it’s always better to be upfront about your intentions and financial matters when sourcing talent for projects.

How To Shoot a Fashion Editorial: Style it Yourself or Collaborate with a Stylist

The hardest aspect of shooting an editorial can be finding the wardrobe or determining if you need a stylist. As I mentioned above, makeup artists can be tough to schedule, but in my experience stylists are the most difficult. Usually, due to their existing projects and already established connections with photographers, you’re best to find a stylist who may be pretty new to the industry and grow together. When you establish a team at the beginning of your professional career, you will be able to work alongside each other on future projects.

If a stylist is hard to pin down for your editorial, consider styling it yourself. As a fashion photographer, you should have a basic understanding of trends and styles that are in season and appealing to magazines for their upcoming issues. Even if you do not have access to high-end brands, depending on the publication a cohesive wardrobe with multiple outfit changes may be considered suitable. When in doubt, I always consider styling with thrifted, vintage items. In this scenario, you may not land a Vogue or Elle cover, but you can create a strong pitch to a smaller publication to start building a name for your work.

How To Shoot a Fashion Editorial: Choose 4-20 Images

Once the editorial has been shot and edited, it’s time to pick the top images from each look. It is best to choose about 4 images per look, varying in poses, style, and location (if shooting outside of a studio setting). Having a spread of images that are unique and create a captivating story will allow for a higher chance of the magazine publishing your work. Always send submissions according to the publication’s guidelines and be personable in communicating with the editors. Be patient, show passion and be prepared for rejection. Shooting a fashion editorial can take time and some projects may never get published. As with any professional endeavor – be persistent, continue to build your creative team and keep shooting your artistic ideas.

As mentioned above, the Hub allows photographers, videographers, makeup artists, stylists and models to find and work together. If you’re planning to shoot an editorial, be sure to search creatives based on your location using our platform. You can apply for our community here!

Have you shot an editorial with members of the Hub? If so, share with us your work and the publication below in the comments!

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