Behind the Lens: Understanding Light for Portrait Photography - Tutorial Series

Photography means writing with light, so it's safe to say that lighting is a crucial part of photography (in all genres that is). Lighting not only "lights" the scene, it communications a message, a mood, a feeling. Light is simple to understand yet has an infinite amount of ways to be manipulated. As a portrait and fashion photographer, I focus on capturing the energy and the mood of the moment in all of my sessions. Before a portrait session, I study the light and study my subjects so I can better determine how to capture the best shot with the best light. I study the light prior to the shoot by based on the type of photography session. I can opt for a dramatic, high-key light or maybe a low-key, dark and moody scene for a creative portrait. The possibilities are endless! 

The Inverse Square Law of Light

The Inverse Square Law of Light

Because I LOVE playing with light and talking about it, I decided to start a Lighting series tutorial on my Youtube Channel: Yesenia Bocanegra: Behind the Lens. The first episode of this series talks about very principle of light: The Inverse Square Law of Light. This episode explains how you can modify light by approximation to the subject being photographed. It's a very simple and hands down tutorial.

For our second episode of this Light Series, I created a tutorial on How to Use One Single  Constant Light Source. This tutorial is a breakdown on how to maximize the use of one single light source in order to create a wide range of portraits ranging from soft and bright to dark and contrasty.

Five Facial Lighting Patterns for Portrait Photography

Five Facial Lighting Patterns for Portrait Photography

Now, if you're just joining me on this Lighting for Photography series, and are just starting out in photography, then , you can also check out a previous video I made on the Five Facial Lighting Patterns for Portrait Photography. This tutorial presents an in studio setup, of how to shape the face with light.

However, if you're more of a natural light/ on-location kind of person, then I have another tutorial for you on How to Use A 5-in-1 circular reflector. It's one of my favorite tools for when I'm shooting on location, and a must- have tool for any photographer (in my humble opinion).

Five Facial Lighting Patterns for Portrait Photography

Five Facial Lighting Patterns for Portrait Photography

I hope you can follow me in this series about the very nature of photography: Light. And don't forget to subscribe to my channel to learn right away about our latest tutorials!

For those Spanish speakers out there, my videos are now available EN ESPAÑOL!



Working with my creative team

As a portrait and fashion photographer, I have the blessing of working with a variety of people on most of my sessions. From that first moment of communication between my client and I, to the delivery of my images, there's plenty that goes on.

On a typical shoot, I have my client, a hair and makeup artist, an assistant and/or a wardrobe designer/wardrobe stylist or even both. I may even have a videographer if it's a much larger photography session. So it's safe to say that it can be a little overwhelming at times (although, you get used to it very quickly). When I first started photographing portraits and fashion, It was just model and myself. I didn't think I needed that many people but today, I say the more the merrier! I love working with a team of likeminded creative people. It makes a four-hour session feel like nothing. At least until you sit down and realized that it's been that long and then you actually feel a bit tired. I can't tell you enough, how much I value my professional relationships with my team of hair and makeup artists, designers and assistants. So much so that we’ve become great friends and help each other out in a variety of ways.

Since it’s Valentine’s day, I would like to show some love to all my models hair and makeup artists, fashion designers, photographers and videographers whom I’ve had the amazing pleasure of working with for the past five years since I began photographing humans. From San Francisco, California, to San Juan, Puerto Rico and Durham, North Carolina and to different places both in the US and abroad, thank you so very much for helping throughout all of these years.

If you’re a photography student, I strongly encourage you to build a team of creative and likeminded people to work with. It will be a fun learning experience that will only makeup a better and stronger photography professional. Now, I’m focusing on photography because after all, I am a photographer. However, there are many professions that require you to work in a group setting. No matter if you’re a retail sales professional or a public officer at a local public office, do your very best to be positive, know your individual and group goals, value everyone’s inputs as much as you’d like for them to value yours, and most importantly, communicate! Bad communication can lead to bad results and you don’t really want that. Be proactive and take initiative. If you don’t know something, then ask for help or figure out a way to make it work.

I hope you all have a fun, creative, productive and chocolaty Valentines Day!


Personal Branding Portraits with Yesenia Bocanegra

According to the saying, an image says more than a thousand words, and when it comes to branding and marketing, it can say a whole lot more! This is why I want to share with you a little more of my Personal Branding Sessions.

My Personal Branding portrait sessions are designed and tailored to meet your business needs whether on location (around the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area) or in our studio located in Durham, N.C. However, I am available for travel, and often visit the Dallas - Fort Worth, TX area throughout the year.

We start the process with a questionnaire that will help me get to know a little bit about you and your business goals. After I receive the questionnaire we schedule a portrait consultation appointment which we can do in person or via Google Hangout or Skype. At this point, we can further discuss your business, what image it has and where you are going with it (if you're rebranding it) or if you already have a strong defined business image, we touch the key points that will help maintain the look and feel you already have. In addition, we discuss hair and makeup options and clothing.                                      
In a nutshell, it's for us to connect and for me to learn more on how to design your portrait session to not just be fun, but also meet your goals. During your pre consultation, we also schedule your photography session. Let's not forget, I like to have light snacks and drinks available for all of my clients, so if you have any dietary preferences, this is where you let me know. :)

The complete portrait experience lasts for about 3-4 hours. We begin with a complimentary hair and makeup session done by a professional hair and makeup artist. Once hair and makeup are set, we then begin the fully guided portrait session. In other words, I will be guiding you through a variety poses to ensure that you not only look good but feel good. 

Personal Branding Portraits are a great for entrepreneurs, lifestyle and fashion bloggers, health and fitness professionals, artists in the creative and/or media arts fields and more! 

From casual, to sophisticated we love creating the perfect scenario to help you build your network and grow your business. 

If you're interested in learning more about how we can design a session for you, click here and we will get the conversation started. 


Personal Branding Portrait Session by Yesenia Bocanegra Photography

Personal Branding Portrait Session by Yesenia Bocanegra Photography

Studio and On Location: Bridal Look Book Shoot for Sonique Stephens - Durham, NC

A look book is a commercial style photography session that is focused on selling a product. In this case, I was photographing two bridal gowns by designer Sonique Stephens. Because it is not an editorial where we would have in turn created a visual story, we opted for shooting in the studio with a simple background and went with a light blue seamless. Afterall, there's always "something blue" right?. Our light setup was pretty simple. We used a Paul C. Buff 37in Octabox with a boom arm set to be around the center of the image, a 2x3 Soft box on camera left and a makeshift foamboard reflector on the right. After taking some shots in the studio, we went ahead outside to a nearby trail and photographed our favorite of the two dresses. Eventhough it was not our initial idea, we figured we might as well shoot outside as it was really a perfect afternoon.

Now that we're outside, I decided to bring in a different setup but still keep it simple. For outside, we used a Canon 580 EXII Speedlite and an Impact Folding Umbrella with the front diffusor panel which makes it almost like a smaller octabox. Because the trail has areas where the sun shines through the trees, I was able to mix in some of the sunlight as my rim light and use the speedlite as my main light and balance the two for a nice balanced exposure between ambient and flash. In other areas of the trail where the background was darker, I simply played with my settings in order to have a somewhat shallow depth of field and maintain a good exposure.

Creative Team:
Dress Designer: Sonique Stephens
Hair and Makeup: Brandice Farrar of Attraction Makeup
Model: Sarah M.
Photo Assistant: Robin B.

Simple Two Light Setup for a Tween and Teen Model Test Shoot -Durham, NC

Hi Everyone!

For this post, I wanted to share some images of a recent test shoot I did with one teen and a "tween". If you haven't heard the term "tween", it pretty much refers to a child that is neither a young kid nor a teenager as is around the ages of 10 and 12. Voilà!

As a fashion photographer, I mostly get to photograph young adults in their early or mid 20s and as you may see with my work, they're mostly women. However, and for about a couple of years now, I've been photographing more kids fashion and I will say that I really enjoy it. It's very different directing a teen or tween but to me it's actually easier, mainly because I can be very silly while at the same time, getting great shots with great connection. 

Now, what is a ¨Test Shoot? If you´re getting into the modeling world, you may hear this quite often. A test shoot is a photography session made to improve someone´s portfolio. This can be for a model who is just starting out, or someone who needs to update their portfolio images due to a recent change of look such as cutting their hair or changing their hair color.

These types of photography sessions, can be done either in studio or on location and typical require basic outfits and makeup. The idea is for potential casting directions can see how the person looks in their most naturally looking style. It helps them ¨picture¨ the model (no pun intended) in particular role.  These are quite relax sessions as well. Normally you won't have the pressure of a commercial shoot while working on a model test shoot and you also have some more wiggle room to do more creative shots after you've gotten what the model needed for her book (portfolio).

These images were made at my studio in Durham, NC using two lights: a 37in octabox, a 2'x3' soft box and a large rectangular reflector made out of foamcoar. Below is the diagram of the left image and the camera settings for your reference.

Because my studio space is relatively small and with light colored walls, using just two lights is more than enough for me to be able to create a nice bright white background. It's also my go-to setup for most of my studio shoots.


A Summer Recap

The wind always favors the traveler who knows his way
— Stuart Avery Gold.
Casco Viejo, Panamá 

Casco Viejo, Panamá 

As we get ready to greet the Fall season, where leaves begin to turn red, orange and yellow and every restaurant and coffee house has a pumpkin flavored something, I reflect on what has been the most amazing Summer of my life (thus far).

Ciudad de Panamá (Panama City), Panamá

Ciudad de Panamá (Panama City), Panamá

Let me tell you about my life motto. "Do what you love and never work a day in your life." That's it! But it comes with a price... You have to work hard to get to that point. Over the past five years and then some, I have been able to learn about the beautiful art of photography. Precisely five years ago, I packed my bags and got on a plane with a one way ticket from San Juan, Puerto Rico to San Francisco. I knew life was going to change but I didn't know the extent of said change. As usual, you have ups and downs and everything that comes with being a grad student, moving to another country, meeting new people and having a four to five hour time difference (depending on the time of the year) between you and your family, in order to follow your dreams. My goal has been simple and I think it's been the same for as long as I can remember: do what you love and live a meaningful life. Somedays I honestly feel that I am terrible at it but others, I feel the need to pad myself on the shoulders and say to myself "Nice work!. Now keep moving!" Well, so far I have been able to do all things related to my fields of study- film, graphic design and the love of my life, photography. I've always wanted to be able to travel for "work" purposes. And I have been able to do so for the past six years. My  travels have been either from Puerto Rico to the United States and within the USS. It was not until this Summer that I received the amazing opportunity to pack my bags and fly to beautiful and amazing Panama. It was my first time travel abroad for work purposes, my first time being abroad for the longest period of time. (I've travels several times to Europe and once to South America) and the first time actually visiting Panama. (I would not count a two hour layover at Tocumen airport hardly a visit).

Fresh Roasted Coffee from Cafés de La Luna. Boquete, Panamá

Fresh Roasted Coffee from Cafés de La Luna. Boquete, Panamá

My job throughout five weeks was to teach photography. I mean, not only am I getting the chance to photograph this beautiful country, but I get to teach a younger generation all about the basics of photography. JACKPOT! Seriously, my Summer was really amazing. And between all the patacones (friend plantains), the black beans, the coconut rice, the mango juice... please let's take a quick moment for the mango juice .... the fresh fruit, the oh-so-yummy-avocados and the ice cream (because why not) I even lost 9 lbs! (woot, woot!).

Let me tell you why it was an amazing summer. I hiked a beautiful trail where I saw several of the second more rarest bird in the world: the Quetzal, I saw a tree that survived two volcanic erruptions, I faced my fear of highs TWICE and ziplined across the Valley where the longest line was 500 meters long (to give you an idea, the Eiffel Tower is about 300 meters...) to white water rafting, to meeting a really beautiful group of children from two different indigenous communities, to snorkling with sea turtles and literally stumbling upon a sea turtles nest, to watching a sea turtle nest, touching her and then biding her farewell right at midnight (which is why we ended up calling her Cinderella) to swimming at night in open waters (twice) to also getting stuck in open waters (not so awesome I admit) to being able to make new friends, to explore a beautiful country and learn more about its people, its customs and traditions. To seeing a family of humpback whales just 20 feet away from our boat. To finding myself crying tears of joy for being so overwhelmed by the moment I was living.

Emberá Children, Chagres River, Panama

Emberá Children, Chagres River, Panama

This was my summer. And yes, I was working while doing all of that. Here's the thing, you can do the things you love, but you have to put in the effort to be able to do them on a daily basis. 

Five years ago I moved out of my country to start a new life in a brand new place. Five years ago, I didn't even know of the existence of Durham, NC. I only hope that five years from now, I have many more adventures and stories to share with you. Until then, I will say that I am grateful for the adventures thus far and am looking forward to what's ahead.

I hope you all had an amazing Summer and don't forget, work smart and play hard.



Erica's Senior Portraits in Durham, NC

From a casual serendipitous meeting at a coffee shop in Brier Creek (Raleigh, NC), to intern to a super fun senior portrait session. I met Erica a little over a year ago at a coffee shop while on a meeting with a other client whom had asked a perfect stranger at the time (Erica's Mom) to snap an photo for us for my client's social media. Little did we know that Mom was having a coffee with her daughter who happens to love photography (an has a really good eye for it too!) So, as a portrait photographer myself, I gave them my business card. Some time after Erica contacted me for an internship at the studio and in no time she started. Erica is a fantastic young lady. Super talented, friendly, proactive and has a bubbly personality that will make anyone smile. 

Fast forward and year later, we set a date for her portrait session. It was honestly one of my favorite sessions. By the end of a 4 hours shoot we were all exhausted by very pleased with the results. We had various hair and makeup looks as well us a good variety of outfits, one of them (the long beige dress) being from Sonique Stephens.

Thank you Erica for such a fun day and for all your hard work.
You will go places far beyond your imagination!

Check out a behind the scenes Animoto slide show of this super fun day.


De un encuentro casual en un café en Brier Creek (Raleigh, Carolina del Norte) a estudiante practicante, a una sesión de fotos divertida. Conocí a Erica hace poco más de un año durante una reunión con un cliente quien al finalizar nuestra reunión, se acerca a quien en aquel entonces era un persona desconocida (la madre de Erica) a tomarnos una foto para sus redes sociales. Lo que no sabiamos era que Erica (quien tiene buen ojo para las fotos) se encontraba allí tomando un café con su mamá. Le di mi tarjeta de presentación y a poco tiempo ella me contacto y el resto es historia. Erica es una joven talentosa, alegre y con mucho don de vida que contagia a cualquiera.

Pasado un año, separamos la fecha para su propia sesión de fotos seniors la cual resulta ser una de las sesión más divertidas que he realizado. Al final de las 4 horas todas estabamos exhaustas pero aún así muy complacidas con el resultado. Realizamos varios cambio de maquillaje y peinado y naturalmente teniamos una multitud de cambios de ropa.

Gracias Erica por tu arduo trabajo y por un día divertidísimo. Sabes que llegarás más lejos de lo que tu imaginación te deje ver. Exito y enhorabuena!

How to Use a 5-in-1 Reflector On Location for Portrait Photography

One of the most frequently used accessories in photography is the reflector. Reflectors come in various shapes and sizes but the most common one is the circular reflector. These specific reflectors usually have multiple sides that can help you reflect or block the light in several ways. Reflectors are quite simple to use, however there´s a little trick to getting them to work for you the way you want them to therefor I decided to create a video tutorial on "How to use a 5-in-1 reflector".

Most reflectors usually come with a white and silver side but the 5-in-1 reflector (my favorite) comes with a white, a silver, a black, a gold side and it also has a scrim. The white reflector will help you bounce light in a more softer way when compared to the silver which will produce a much stronger and contrasted reflection. The gold side will do the same, however it adds warmth to the scene. It´s important that when you use either the silver or gold side of your reflector, that you consider the amount of light that is being reflected to your subject because it may be too strong and it would then result unflattering. Consider stepping back just a few steps to reduce the intensity. If that isn´t enough, then switch back to the white side. 

In the video, I demonstrate the difference between using each of the different sides of the reflector in different scenarios that range from an open shade area to an open field with direct sun. 

Don´t forget that even though you are using a reflector, you still have to pay close attention to the direction of the light. Take a look at this video tutorial that I made a couple of months ago on Facial Lighting Patterns.

Take a look at this Behind the Lens video and feel free to comment below. Also, if you have a question that you would like for me to cover in a video, please let me know!

I hope you all enjoy it!


Photography and Video - Internship Opportunity

New year means new plans, more projects and more chances to create amazing things! 2016 is here and I have some really fun projects coming up soon and I am in need of an intern. The internship consists of assisting in shoots, helping with behind the scenes videos, basic video editing, some marketing and minor office tasks. Knowledge in photography, video and video editing is a must. This is an unpaid internship and you must be local to the Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill area in North Carolina. If you´re interested, please send a resumé with a link to your portfolio to 

I look forward to hearing from you!


Fun Lifestyle Senior Portrait Session in Downtown Raleigh, NC

Thankfully Fall is officially in season. Personally, I´ve been counting the days so I can start wearing layers and boots. After having lived in San Francisco (where you will find yourself wearing a light jacket in mid July) I cannot get enough of Fall weather (and Fall fashion) specially here in North Carolina where you can get all four seasons. In honor of the coming season, we went ahead a scheduled a fun Senior Portrait Session in Downtown Raleigh. 

I photographed these lovely senior girls with my Canon 5D Mark II and switched between the Sigma 70-200 2.8, the Canon 24-70 L 2.8 and my favorite, the Canon 85mm 1.8. For light, I used one Canon 580 EXII Speedlite accompanied by the super awesome speedlite modifier, the Rogue Flashbender2 XL, I also used my Pocket Wizards for when using of-camera flash and my new favorite accessory, the SpiderPro Camera Holster

This fun portrait session, was shot between 9am and 11am on a Saturday. We picked this time as to not have that many people around and to get the most of the available light. We did some candid shots with the speedlite just to give it an extra pop of light and contrast. I find that by using this modifier (the Rogue Flashbender 2 XL), I get a really nice bounce of light, without it being too strong. After all, I wanted to keep a nice daylight type look while still keeping some of the background.

As far as clothing and makeup went, we decided on a natural clean look for hair and makeup, and for clothing, we went with burgundy colors, jeans, and some layers. The purpose of this was not only to show some Fall inspired shoots, but to also show that, no matter what you are photographing, whether it is fashion editorial or a fun lifestyle shoot, you can always layer up/down and get different looks with just a few key pieces and accessories. If you struggle with this, feel free to take a look at my many Pinterest boards for some inspiration.


Take a look at this short but sweet behind the scenes video of my recent High School Senior Portrait Session in Downtown Raleigh, NC. and feel free to leave comments and or ask questions below!

In the spirit of helping others, I'm offering a special priced Mini-Portrait Sessions throughout this Fall. The mini session is only $150 and 100% of that will go straight to a non-profit organization that helps children waiting for families. For participating, you will receive a free custom mobile app that you can use to share with all your friends and family. There is no purchase necessary but if you do decide on purchasing a la carte products, 10% of that will also be donate to this amazing organization who has already done so much in so little time.

Senior Portrait Photography by Yesenia Bocanegra in Raleigh, NC

Embracing Chance in Your Personal and Professional Life

“The wind always favors the traveler who knows his way” - Stuart Avery Gold

The past few days have been very life changing for me, both professionally and personally. "Coincidentally" two days ago, I came across an old photography essay I worked on while I was visiting Buenos Aires, Argentina. On a technical level, I think it´s a good start to a project but still needs more to work with. On a personal level, this project is very close to my heart as it represents the interlude to a new chapter in my life at the time. Photography is my passion, It is also my job. However, one of the cool things about it is that, I can find something personal within it, to be able to express myself. The images in that project are merely fractions of a second of a moment in time that is long gone and will never come back. The only thing that is left of them is precisely those instantaneous captures called "photographs". I don´t know exactly where I´m going with all of this but I simply felt like sharing. 

Life has many, many, many doors and paths that react pretty much the same way as a domino effect. One goes down, then the other and another one and you get the point. Since I decided to move out of Puerto Rico, I´ve come across people who represent triggers to some of my life´s changes. I like to think of these changes as all of them being positive as they´ve all led me to today. 

As I mentioned earlier, this week has been very life changing for me. Over the past 4 days I´ve been working at the women´s conference called Emerging Women NC in Raleigh, NC. This retreat business boot-camp gave me the opportunity to learn new tricks to embrace my change in my life and my business. I feel that with this experience, many, many doors have opened for me and that many more will continue to open and I am grateful for that. As part of the activities that we did at the event, we were asked to define what is to be successful. That´s a tricky question. Success can be defined in some many ways and with many different standards. I won´t share my answer to that, but I will wrap up this post with that as a question. What is success to you, and do you consider yourself successful? 

While you reflect on that, here are some of the images I took from my very special trip to Buenos Aires. I hope you enjoy them.

“When you travel, time takes a different dimension thus turning each moment into an unrepeatable experience.” 
-Henrietta Brown

#SpotTheShot2015 Instagram Contest and 5 Tips on How to Build a Strong Brand For Your Business Using Squijoo

As a business owner, one of the many things you need to think about is your branding. Branding is a key element in your business as it is another way that it will speak of you and your product. I am so happy to announce that I´ve partnered with the amazing people of Squijoo who are giving away a Free 3 Month Subscription to their services! That´s right, 3 full months to access their really amazing and large variety of marketing materials that you can use for your business. 

It's very simple to participate, all you need to do is upload your very best and favorite Summer photo (1 photograph only) and post them on Instagram using #SpotTheShot2015, then get all your family and friends to vote for it. The photo with most likes is the winner. Contest will start on Monday August 23, 2015 and will end on August 31, 2015 at 11:59pm ET. So choose your ultimate favorite Summer photo, upload, share and vote! In the meantime, here are 5 tips on How to create a strong brand design for your business using Squijoo.

In order to determine what your branding is, you need to determine who your target market is. Wether it is weddings, family portraits, high school seniors, fashion, sports, still life, food or fine art, there is always some sort of style that each of that market leans to. Consider modern and minimalistic, edgy and graphic, pastel-like and whimsical or maybe colorful and bold. These are just ideas that could help you think of when brainstorming your brand design. 

1. Define Your Brand

Now that you´ve decided on starting your business, you now need to think of how is your brand going to look like. By this I mean, is this a fun and whimsical brand, or maybe it has an urban style and feel, maybe it´s more modern or classic. Ultimately, your brand will be a reflection of your work. In order to get started, you can use Pinterest to help you get your ideas in one board. I find that using Pinterest has helped me brainstorm many of my projects. If you haven´t checked it out yet, I strongly recommend it!

2. Less Is More:

Refrain from using too many fonts, 2 fonts would be best at the very most. An alternative to using multiple fonts is to stick to one single Font family and alternate between the styles.


3. Choose Your Brand Colors (but still follow the "Less is More" rule) 

When it comes to colors, you want to keep it at a very minimum by using 1 or 2 colors. An alternate to this is to use one color, let´s say blue, and then alternate with different tonalities of that same color. Printing full color is more expensive, so limiting your color choices will not only make your logo look better, it will also save you money. If you are in need of inspiration, take a look at my Color Palette board on Pinterest.

4. Designing your Logo: 

A logo is representation of your work. It has to relate to the style of work that you produce and it is directly related to your brand. When designing your logo you must consider a color, fonts, and Icons. Now the latter although not necessarily, many people do like to include some sort of icon as part of their logo. This is perfectly fine. The key here is to have everything seem cohesive. One of the coolest things Squijoo has is that it offers a multiple array of templates (including logos!) that you can use (and customize) to get you started.

5. Design Your Marketing Material: 

Once you have your logo designed, then comes the really fun part! You get to create your marketing material. Your marketing material will be a reflection of how your logo looks. Keeping a cohesive and consistent design style will help you have customers recognize your brand and your images. You can start off by designing a beautiful business card and some postcards to leave behind. This is very handy when promoting special events like the one below. Squijoo also has very cool Marketing Kits that could help you get started.

This is a flyer that I created to promote a special event on Senior Mini Sessions. I used the Seniors Rock Board template, added my logo and changed the color to match some of the colors within the photo.

This is a flyer that I created to promote a special event on Senior Mini Sessions. I used the Seniors Rock Board template, added my logo and changed the color to match some of the colors within the photo.

These are some of Squijoo´s Marketing Templates tailored to different types of markets.

These are some of Squijoo´s Marketing Templates tailored to different types of markets.

Squijoo has templates for all sorts of photographic markets. You can find templates that go with newborns and maternity, to family portraits, high school seniors or modern portraiture and you can customize all of them as they come in editable Photoshop files. I´ve found this quite helpful as it has saved me time and money. Did I mention they have unlimited templates for $10 a month?

Now that you are designing your brand, take some time in truly analyzing your business goals, your target market and your personal style. This will all influence the final outcome of your new branding.



6 Tips on How to Break Into Fashion Photography

I love fashion photography. It´s fun, exciting and I will have to say it is also tough, specially breaking into it. One of the many things I love about it though is that I get to work with different people and in turn we get to create new work.  I want to share with you some tips on How to Break into (the awesome) Fashion Photography industry.

1. Build a Strong Portfolio

No matter what genre of photography you are in, it is crucial to have a strong and cohesive portfolio. When portfolio building, you want to be able to photograph the things you want to be hired for. In other words, if your focus in fashion photography, don´t mix food photography in the same portfolio. There is nothing wrong with having different bodies of work. The important thing is to have them all together under one same and cohesive theme.

2. Find Inspiration

Finding inspiration is incredibly important when you are starting of your career as a photographer. By researching other photographers you can learn different things such as: lighting techniques, retouching, posing, business workflow and so much more. 

3. Build Your Team

Fashion photography is not a one man´s job. A successful fashion shoot is not just about the photographs, it´s also about the wardrobe, the model, hair and makeup, if it´s not in the studio, then the location. If it´s in the studio, then depending on the concept of your shoot, you may require some production design. Fashion photography is truly a group effort. Now, I bet you´re asking yourself where will you find a hair stylist, a fashion designer, AND a makeup artist. Well like you, there are other artists and creatives out there that are in the portfolio building stage. You can check out Model Mayhem  which is an online platform where you can find other creatives in your area who are willing to work for trade. Another option is to contact a local cosmetology school and see if some of their students are interested in collaborating. 

4. Assist Another Photographer

This is truly a great learning experience. I´ve found that by assisting other photographers I´ve learned things that I can apply to my own photography practice and my business. On the other hand, I´ve also learned about practices that don´t quite work for me that I wouldn´t have known about if I had not assisted during a particular shoot. This is also helpful because having another set of hands around to hold a reflector or to help move some lights is always welcome! Trust me, they will appreciate the help and more than likely, they will offer to help you out as well. 

5. Shoot, Shoot and Shoot Some More!

Practice makes perfect, and even then we can´t really reach absolute perfection. This doesn´t mean that you can´t better your craft and excel at what you do. It is extremely important that when portfolio building, you shoot as much as possible. Although it might become exhausting, this will stimulate your mind and creativity and help you refine the technical skills that will help you move into another level.

6. Have Fun!

Photography is a beautiful medium. Enjoy the process and embrace it. Then do the happy dance! :)