7 Tips from Professional Fashion Photographer Adriana Curcio

7 Tips from Professional Fashion Photographer Adriana Curcio

adriana.jpgA couple of weeks ago I came across the website of fashion and editorial photographer Adriana Curcio. I was immediately impressed by the quality of her work and spent the next half an hour looking through (and learning from) her portfolios. I shot Adriana an email and asked if she’d be interested in sharing some tips with DPS readers. Following are 7 tips (and a few images) that she took the time to write up.

When asked to write about tips and advice for aspiring photographers, I mulled over a few different topics, and everything I came up with was technically related. Then, I thought about myself, and my journey into fashion photography, and thought about the advice I wished I’d been given. What I needed were tips about the little things that fall through the cracks when you’re so focused on getting the mechanics down. The truth of the matter is, you can create an image that is 100% technically correct, but the elements that truly make your image worth looking at may be lost. So here’s my list of tips…Getting the Whole Picture.


1. Preparation

In my opinion this is the most important bit of advice I can give you. In fact, don’t just prepare, over prepare! I never walk on to a set without having a concrete idea of what I’m looking to achieve. I have books, and books of tear sheets of images of lighting, makeup, hair, styling, posing, editing, etc. It’s very easy to become burnt out as a photographer, but if you have these books of inspiring images to glance through, I can pretty much guarantee something will catch your eye, and a concept or story will begin to develop.

2. It’s Your Concept

Working in fashion, there is obviously a team of hair stylists, makeup artists, and stylists I work with, however, I’m involved in all of it from A-Z. I’m always open to suggestions, and ideas, and love to see what others can bring to the table, but I never hand over the reigns. You cannot let someone else take over your vision. If you do, it will read in your images. You need a very smooth execution of your story in order for your audience to grasp it, so be sure to take control of it.


3. Move and Move some more

I experiment from every possible angle when I’m shooting. I shoot and move, shoot and move. You can’t wait for the shot to come to you, you have to go find it.

4. Be a Director

I direct, A LOT. There are some models that don’t need a lot of direction, and I love to be inspired by what they bring to set, however, I don’t lose sight of my direction. Again, you can’t wait for the shot to come to you, you have to create it.

5. Break the Rules

Whomever said “rules are meant to be broken,” was on the right track. I was taught the correct way to light my subjects, and for a long time that’s what I did. After a few fortunate accidents, I realized there’s something to be said about high contrast, and dramatic lighting. Not everything needs to be lit just so, or be perfectly flattering. Bend and break the rules, and see what you find. You will surprise yourself.


6. Never Stop Shooting

Shoot whenever, and where ever. The second you stop shooting, is the second your “photographic brain” starts slowly disappearing and getting lazy. You start losing your creative energy, and second guessing yourself, then you begin to thinki maybe you’re not good enough, etc. If you keep on shooting, you don’t have the chance to fall into that hole. Once you’re there, it’s hard to dig yourself out! Shoot, shoot, shoot!

7. Confidence

You have to believe in yourself, and your work! The best way to learn is to completely throw yourself into it. You can’t be afraid to screw up! The reality of the situation is that inevitably, you will screw up! But it’s ok, it’s actually wonderful because it’s how you learn. Every time I make a mistake on set, I learn, and know better for next time. My first shoot with clients, I almost walked off set because I didn’t trust myself, and I was so scared of making a mistake, and embarrassing myself. I sat there running through all the possible disasters that could occur, then I shut it all out because I knew if I didn’t shoot then, I never would! The images from that shoot are some of my favorite images to date!

Do yourself a favor and check out more of Adriana’s fashion and editorial photography at www.adrianacurcio.com.


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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Abhijeet Kumar January 18, 2011 04:32 am

    Dear Sir,

    I am a banker by profession, but i had a dream to be a professional fashion photographer. I read your comments and suggesions ....I wish one fine day i work with you.

    any time if u need me as ur helper , send me one email ..i will be there with u.

    Abhijeet Kumar

  • Luna October 4, 2010 09:19 pm

    Although i do agree with most of the advice, advice number 6 can be different with each individual. When I first got my Dslr, I shot about 10,000 shots in the first 4 months - mainly portraits but as the weather got cold, I slowed down and did more indoor shoots every now and then.

    Now the weather is nice enough to take my daughter out to do outdoor shoots, I was able to take better photos, not because of continuous shooting, but exactly the opposite; because of the downtime during the winter, I was able to look through my photos, analyse, read others advice/suggestions and apply different styles of shooting (and probably better) when I picked up the camera again.

  • Elyse Destout August 5, 2010 10:32 am

    Truely inspirational!! I have been in the business for almost 11 years now and I couldn't have said it better! I love hearing that other photographers have some of the same reservations!

  • Mohoumi April 7, 2010 07:01 am

    great article, very interesting photos. the models look very editorial and edgy.
    :) thank you

  • Lindsay March 24, 2010 07:51 am

    This is a very insightful article! It really shows that you know what you are talking about with fashion photography. I enjoyed the part about "rules are meant to be broken," they definitely are and that is usually when the most amazing shots come out! I am also a huge fan of bright lights and heavy contrasting, the light makes unnoticable features really pop!

  • Lisa February 24, 2010 05:16 pm

    This is exactly what I was looking for! Thank you - It's so hard to find good fashion advice these days! Thanks again! :)

  • Cassy February 13, 2010 10:18 am

    The photo underneath 5. Break The Rules is absolutely gorgeous. High contrast B&W are my favourite kind of portraits.

  • Tanya Chica April 3, 2009 06:13 pm

    Hi! I noticed that my website isn't appearing well just in case you want to read what I think about fashion being a fashion buff that I also am. Cheers!

  • Tanya Chica March 20, 2009 06:52 pm

    I'd be lost without fashion. I will recommend you to my colleagues. I can't say enough about fashion.

  • Binh Nguyen February 7, 2009 03:56 pm

    Simply Inspirational.

  • gopal-s January 25, 2009 07:14 am

    very much helpful, particular for lighting a model and her advice to keep shooting....thanks adriana

  • jeni January 24, 2009 03:13 am

    Wow, oh wow. Thanks for this article. I have renewed confidence in my style of shooting just from this article and a reaffiirmed faith in my vision. i have a long way to become truly professional, but tips like this are what get you there. thanks.

  • doddy varonis January 23, 2009 08:06 pm

    its a amazing article. i can learn fashion photography.

  • Chrisof4 January 23, 2009 06:06 am

    There is some really great advice in this article. I think the most important advice comes at the end. Take some risks! Don't wait until your skills are perfected, or you will never get started. I have been so nervous before some shoots I literally thought I would throw up, but once the shooting starts, all that disappears. You learn the most from shoots that are difficult and yep, you will make mistakes. But, there is no substitute for actually getting out there and doing it. Confidence comes from the successes you will have which will give you the strength to challenge yourself even more.


  • Kimberly January 23, 2009 04:54 am

    This is one of the most helpful lists I've read. Thanks very much, Adriana.

  • Omar January 23, 2009 02:15 am

    Wow, really good tips. I always wanted to take pictures of models but dont know where to start. Good stuffs here.

  • Roz January 23, 2009 01:59 am

    This is fabulous! I'm going to do go my first Fashion shoot this March and it was right on the money with what I needed to hear.

  • labro January 23, 2009 01:50 am

    Very intersting article.
    My 14 years girl wants to make fashion defile,...
    She asked me to takes photos from her.
    I purchased garden spots, white background with materail for beds, grey floor and took pictures with my d300+sb800+18-70mm 3.5-4.5+mini-softbox lumiquest on flash
    nice but with lot of shadow behind my girl, not as much light as expected because garden spots 500w needed to be directed to the ceil so lot of light lost.

    There are lot of topaz advertisements in this article. I am intersted with it and actually use demo version.
    I have downloaded the images of topaz adjust home page and impossible to make same result.
    can't you make a little course on how to use topaz adjust ? Not sure it is your job so excuse me if I ask something strange -)

    best regards
    thanks for fantastic tips


  • ramansharma89@gmail.com January 23, 2009 01:30 am

    really very nice and useful tips. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Stewart January 23, 2009 01:18 am

    Adriana, nice photos, but your website's flash is slowing my computer to a crawl. It popped up with a warning about a script on your site slowing my PC down. Might want to check that out.

  • Pat January 22, 2009 08:29 pm

    Great tips and some amazing work.

    Did anyone notice in the environmental fashoin shots under "2 It's your concept" that the model on the left is lit on the face that over powers the daylight so that the shade on her face is the opposite direction to the once cast from the sun?

    Great sylist image.

    Love the head & shoulder portrait as well :-)

    PatB Boudoir Photography

  • Jack Fussell January 22, 2009 07:40 pm

    Great article. I'm starting to do portraits in natural light and I've found myself struggling with knowing what to do with people. Her advice is great to look at photos constantly and take inspiration from that. I don't want to do simple "Olan Mills" type portraits I really want to take concepts from fashion photography and apply them to natural light, on location type portraiture.

  • Gabby January 21, 2009 08:19 pm

    What an amazing photographer! I was trying to reverse engineer all her lighting!

    I really appreciated her candid advice too. My favourite was No 1 Be Prepared! I had already started collecting images of different styles of posing and lighting because I find it hard to be creative with portraits. I thought it was a beginners way of cheating but after reading this I will be adding to my collection from now on!

  • Aisha January 21, 2009 10:26 am

    I loved all of the suggestions. Really great images she has and I feel like she really knows her stuff. Thanks for an inspiring article.

  • LisaNewton January 21, 2009 09:29 am

    Although I'm not a fashion photographer, your list is great for us casual photographers, too. In fact, I try to do many of these without even realizing it. Moving around to get the shot I want has become a biggie for me. Also, as I gain more experience, my confidence increases.

    I think the one I love the most is never stop shooting. I have so many shots I pushed the delete button on, but with each one of those, I was able find out what was wrong and try to correct the error the next time.

    Thanks for the great list.......................:)

  • Mel-Anne January 21, 2009 09:02 am

    Wow - she takes amazing shots. Off to her site to check out more now!

  • EC January 21, 2009 03:38 am

    I am just a beginning photographer and read this advices makes me want to go deeper in this world. Great blog and great article by Adriana.

  • Peter Conrey January 21, 2009 01:15 am

    Great article, but when I go to her site, it hangs and I get a warning from my browser that states:

    "A script in this movie is causing Adobe Flash Player 10 to run slowly. If it continues to run, your computer may become unresponsive. Do you want to abort the script?"

    If I don't abort it, the browser hangs. If I do, I'm left with nothing more than a blinking music player box at the top right of the browser window.

    Any ideas?

  • new media photographer January 21, 2009 01:12 am

    Excellent advice.

    Although, I liked all the advice. I think the biggest point, in my opinion, taking control and have confidence. If your not afraid you will take risks and try new ideas.

    I'd like to hear more from Adriana.


  • mark h January 21, 2009 12:59 am

    It's a shame her website doesn't work in Firefox and there isn't a Flash free version.

  • Smash and Peas January 21, 2009 12:50 am

    I'm a huge fan of shooting informal portraits so it was great to see this article pop up in my feed reader! Learned quite a lot from it. Nice example photographs too!