Fashion Photography - How to Do an Editorial Fashion Photography Spread

Fashion Photography – How to Do an Editorial Fashion Photography Spread


In this article London based Fashion Photographer Joaquim Barreto walks us through the process of Fashion Photography and how to do a fashion photography editorial spread for a magazine. He’s also shared a series of shots from a fashion editorial spread that he’s done (there is a description of the brief for this spread at the bottom of this post).


Here we go on a whirlwind introduction to fashion photography!

Fashion Photography – PRE-SHOOT

The Brief

When you are commissioned to do a fashion photography spread, 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. You discuss the brief with the art director or editor as to how it should be interpreted. At this stage, you determine the feel you want the photographs to have, such as, do you want the viewer to be excited, or calm, to feel sad or happy, or should the photographs have a great deal of colours or should they be muted. You decide what the brief means to you and how it would best describe your meaning within a fashion photograph. All the possibilities of the outcomes depend on the available budget.


The Stylist

The stylist is the person who gets the clothes and she contributes greatly to the development of the idea. Her work is to acquire the latest possible fashion clothes that are suitable for the brief. The magazine would want the stylist to acquire clothes from famous brand names, as it would have more prestige in the eyes of its readers. Personally, I do not really mind what brands the clothes are as long as they fit the brief and more importantly, that they enhance on how I want the photograph to look like.


Model Casting

Casting of the model is most essential as it is the main factor that determines the feel of the pictures, no matter where and what clothes she will be wearing. The model defines who you are as a photographer and has a person. You are making a statement if you choose a voluptuous or thin model, tall or short, intellectual or not so intellectual. When a photographer chooses a model, he is deciding on how he wants to be judge as a person. Choosing your model is like choosing your friends, because they define you.


Makeup & Hair

It is important to give a clear guidance as to what you want to the make-up artist and hair stylist. You must brief them on the project and ask for their contributions. A good conversation with the make-up artist and hair stylist is absolutely essential, and try and bring them into your project in the early stages.



Once all has been decided and a date has been set, it is important to get the necessary permissions and bookings. For example, if you are shooting in a location, like a bar, then you need the permission from the owner. Book the model from the model agency. Book all the crew, such as make-up artist, hair stylist and if needed, assistants. Make sure the stylist has all she needs and booked for the day. Food and water are very essential because nobody likes to work when they are hungry. Music also helps to set the mood, so if you have some speakers to bring them along an plug them to your computer.



Time Schedule

On the day of the shoot, keep everyone informed of the time schedule for the whole day. I tend to find that the best way to deal with a shoot day is by working backwards. Once you know the exact time in which you have to finish the shoot, then you work out exactly the time it takes to pack up everything. So now, you know the exact time you need to start packing which means that you know the time when you take the last photograph, so you work out how long it will take to photograph everything, and you repeat the same steps until you reach the arrival at the location. It is important to think on your feet as all the possible unforeseeable obstacles may occur during the day of the shoot.

The first task that needs to be done is the make-up and hair on the model. These can be quite complex and time consuming. The longer the make-up and hair take to do, the earlier you have to start, if you have to finish by a certain time. Once the make-up and hair is done the model puts on the first outfit and the shoot begins. Once all the outfits are done, it is time to pack up and the model to have her make-up off.


Art Direction

There is normally one set of clothes outfit per page. So for a 8 page (either single page or double page) fashion photography spread, normally requires eight set of outfits and one different location per outfit. This is the normal practice but it varies depending on the requirements and circumstances.

While taking the photograph, you have to look at the clothes, the location, the model, the lighting and arrange all these variables for to your liking. Ask the stylist, make-up artist and hair stylist to look at their particular area and ensure that the model looks her best while the photograph is being taken. I normally look at the model’s face for the expression that I want, so it is difficult to keep an eye on everything else, such as the clothes not tuck in properly or the hair style has gone of. It is important to have your crew focused on their job, even after they have made the model up.


Model Direction

You must be able to direct the model to the brief. The model has an infinite number of body movements and facial expressions. A photographer’s job is not just to get the best look or pose of the model, but also something unique to the concept at play. To guide the model through a journey, where the feelings and emotions related to the brief are explored. Often, you may not have much time to get to know your model, so you need to find out very quickly what they are like, such as their fears and likes, their attitude towards their work and modeling in general. It is your job to then work from that and guide them to their potential in terms of acting and modeling.


Keep the crew inform on the time schedule and gently push them to finish their task. Everyone must have a deadline as to when their task must be finished. Make sure that everyone has a good environment to work with and your attitude must set the atmosphere for the set.

The set could become crowed. There is the whole team, plus the clothes’ designer, friends, family, agents, passers by, etc might decide to come by the set at one time or another. It is your task to keep the shoot progressing at an ordely manner.




Once the shots have been taken, you will need to process them from raw files to tiff files. The colour temperature, exposure compensation and contrast are some of the processes that take place at this stage.

Often, the fashion photographer hands over to the editor/re-touchers the processed files. However, it is important that the photographer participates in all the processes as it will ensure the best results.


Professional re-touchers and graphic designers will carry out the final processes that are required for the magazine.

Page Layout

The sequence and the layout of the shoot will be decided by the page designer and the editor but the input of the photographer is very important as it ensures that his/her thinking comes across.

Do not forget that a fashion photography spread is a collaboration with many people. It is team work and the photographer, although he plays an important part in it, depends on many people.



The photos in the article are from a fashion spread. The Space Between Magazine commissioned me a fashion spread and my stylist and I suggested to them to do a spread on Marchesa Luisa Casati, a very rich Italian who was a muse to many artists but die in London relatively poor. The shoot took place in a studio and the first photos are filled with lavish colours and spot lighting to suggest the glamour of her life. Towards the end of the spread the colours of her dress and backgrounds are more muted and the lighting more soft in order to portrait her demise.

See more of Joaquim Barreto’s work at

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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

  • Jessica September 22, 2012 10:03 am

    You forgot to mention the all important prop stylist. Without one, most of the images you showed would most likely fail. Like you said, all parts of the crew focus on their individual who's decorating the set?

  • Mira March 1, 2012 03:44 am

    I believe pictures are wonderful because they illustrate the photo set mentioned in this blog, not the actual photo result published.

    Thank you for this post.

    I have a question though. What are the legal documents besides model release or agency agreement that you may need prior to publishing the photos? In particular, do you need a permission from the clothing brand or the makeup brand if you are about to list them in the magazine. For example if jeans are "Levi's", do you need permission in writing from Levi's. I assume their trademark would show in photos and it would be a recognizable brand / trademark. Same question about makeup where you can't see the logo of course but you want to list that your model is wearing whatever brand etc.


  • ravjot February 23, 2012 07:08 pm

    Wonderful illustration of how to go about with a shoot..loved it from top to bottom

  • fashion photog December 10, 2011 01:03 pm

    I kinda agree with the comment above. Pictures should be labelled whether they are illustrative ones just to show how things are done, or actual editorial photo, in which case, whether the image is finished work or unedited copy.

  • Max Works October 3, 2011 01:30 pm

    the first photo is really terrible! the line of the ceiling at cutting through the hair is terrible! are you trying to show us how it should be done, or how it should not be done?

  • Mari September 3, 2011 03:12 am


    Wow! What a treat reading thru this tutorial on some very juicy work. Being a recent Cosmetology graduate and having passion/draw towards everything fashion, I am looking for direction in possible career options. I could stlye a person all day and dress them head to toe for a living, or work on set and learn the ins and outs of a shoot. Or be in a top salon seeing sally every 6 weeks for hi-lights. But I want more, i want to combine my obsession of clothes/style and beauty, photography, and setting trends. I love all of this. Putting corners on the gifts that make me tick is my next journey. I very much appreciated your helpful read and if you have any advice or tid bits for a youngin Im all ears.

  • Barbara Yasuhara June 21, 2011 01:02 am

    Thank you so much for your post it helped a lot! You are also very talented!

    I am saddened however that someone else has posted a blog about the same matter and frightfully using your words verbatim in a few key spots.

    Heads up!

  • chew April 19, 2011 12:31 pm

    Thank you very much for this article. I'm really inclined more to fashion and trying to build a portfolio for that. Very hard indeed but fun. Thanks very much.

  • Ryuji - boston photographer March 6, 2011 11:00 am

    Thanks for the nice article!

  • Le Chateau des Fleurs by Frenchy January 20, 2011 03:15 pm

    Oh WOW This is a good article ! Thanks so much !!! I think a fashion photographer or Editor would be a fun job !

  • amie August 2, 2010 04:34 pm

    nice article, but sorry...the photography is a little sub-standard

  • Fred Huang May 27, 2010 11:36 am

    This is very informative, I am a newbie in fashion photography and I am doing a research on this topic, thanks so much for posting such a great article.

  • Jackie Lund May 13, 2010 02:37 pm

    I was just talking with a photographer friend about editorial photography. I just came across this article and I found the answers I was looking for.

  • Lindsay March 24, 2010 07:45 am

    As I sarted doing my first styling work for RJCook, I completely agree that sometimes the brand of clothes does not matter as long as it looks awesome in the photograph. It always depends on what excatly you're shooting for (what magazine, test, etc). Making the best of every single aspect is key!

  • Dandyism Is NOT Dead March 17, 2010 02:04 pm

    Excellent article, very insightful! Love how you focused on each procedure.

  • angela February 4, 2010 08:49 am

    i am doing photography as a GCSE iin school and we have to choose a project to do it on and i was wanting to do fashion photography as my project and i was wondering how i could do it

  • Shem Omana January 29, 2010 04:47 am

    thank you.. that is well explained, i learned alot from your article. keep it up!

  • Robert Rea - Hair Design December 21, 2009 07:01 am

    Great posting! Would love to read more about the stylists for wardrobe, hair and makeup and what separates this type of shoot from other fashion or avant garde shoots. for makeup artistry

  • Hugh O'Malley Fashion Photographer London November 23, 2008 06:28 am

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge. As a fashion and beauty photographer working in London, I know how precious some people can be with their knowledge and it's refreshing to see your generosity with your vision.

    I run a blog myself here: which is about fashion and photography. check it out if you have a minute.

    Hugh O'Malley
    Fashion and Beauty Photographer London

  • Trenidy September 10, 2008 05:19 am

    I love the work... how long did you go to school for?

  • Olivia O'Sullivan August 18, 2008 06:25 pm

    Thanks for a very informative piece.

  • Satya Paul June 29, 2008 03:33 pm

    Beautiful article . Well explained . Takes care of details .

  • GregB June 23, 2008 07:10 pm

    Nice article. That is exactly how I would do it. Keeping everything running on time is crucial if budgets are concerned.

  • MO June 22, 2008 09:47 pm

    Excellent overview in a couple of minutes.

  • Ajith June 21, 2008 09:44 pm

    Great, thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Luis Aguirre June 21, 2008 12:35 pm

    Great feature and terrific photos.

  • Larry June 20, 2008 08:57 am

    Fantastic post - I really enjoyed this feature.

  • Uncle CHE June 20, 2008 04:15 am

    This post makes me wanna be a photographer. Ha ha ha. Though I dodn't understand certain aspects of it (because I am a photo-dummy), it looks and feels quite professional.

    I think i should visit Joaquim Barreto.


  • Angela June 20, 2008 01:33 am

    Those are really interesting pictures.

    Great tips.

  • Kunal Daswani June 20, 2008 01:07 am

    Great article! Thank you!!

  • Cybasumo June 20, 2008 12:42 am

    Nice photo work! the way the models are shot was great! i love the composition and the theme of each photos... keep up the good work!