An Overview Of Fashion Photography Genres


In the vibrant tapestry of the fashion world, photography serves as the indelible ink that captures moments, tells stories, and ultimately, sells dreams. Fashion photography isn’t just about clothing, it’s about conveying the spirit of an era, the aspirations of a culture, and the creativity of a designer, all within the frame of a photograph. 

From the electric buzz of runway shows to the meticulous composition of editorials, each genre of fashion photography plays a pivotal role in shaping how we perceive and consume fashion. 

This article aims to shed light on the various genres of fashion photography, illustrating how each one, while distinct in technique and purpose, collectively narrates the ever-evolving story of fashion.

What are the Main Genres of Fashion Photography?

Navigating the vast realm of fashion photography, one can identify distinct genres, each tailored to specific objectives and aesthetics within the fashion world. The primary genres include:

  • Editorial Photography: This form prioritizes storytelling, weaving narratives around fashion, often set against carefully curated backdrops and appearing in magazine spreads.
  • Runway Photography: Capturing the live, dynamic essence of fashion shows, this genre chronicles the unveiling of designers’ latest collections on the catwalk.
  • Street Fashion Photography: Grounded in the real world, this genre is about documenting everyday fashion moments, capturing the spontaneous and evolving styles of individuals in urban settings.

What is Editorial Photography?

Editorial photography is a captivating facet of the fashion world, characterized by its storytelling essence. Unlike other forms of fashion photography that might prioritize the clothing or the model, editorial photography weaves a narrative around fashion, often set against evocative backdrops. 

Typically found in fashion magazines and publications, these images complement articles, essays, or stories, and convey a theme, mood, or concept envisioned by the famous fashion photographer, stylist, and editorial team.

What skills do you need for editorial photography?

Editorial photography demands a harmonious blend of technical proficiency and creative vision. A photographer in this niche must not only master the intricacies of their equipment but also cultivate a keen aesthetic sense to visualize and craft compelling narratives. 

This involves collaborating closely with stylists, makeup artists, and models to ensure that every element aligns with the overarching theme. Equally crucial is the ability to adapt to unpredictable challenges, from uncooperative weather to location restrictions, can arise, and an editorial photographer must improvise while maintaining the integrity of the story. 

Effective communication, patience, and a genuine passion for storytelling further elevate the quality of editorial work.

What is the difference between editorial photography, commercial, and photojournalism?

Editorial photography, as mentioned, leans heavily into storytelling, often used in magazines to accompany articles or essays. It operates in a space where creativity reigns, with the primary goal being to evoke emotion, generate thought, or define trends.

Commercial photography, on the other hand, is geared towards advertising and promoting products or services. While it may use storytelling elements, its primary objective is to appeal to potential consumers. The images are often more polished and ‘perfect’, tailored to highlight the desirability of a product or the ethos of a brand.

Photojournalism stands distinct from both. Rooted in the world of news and events, photojournalism captures real-life events as they unfold, with a commitment to objectivity and truth. 

The aim is to document and inform, with minimal interference or manipulation. A photojournalist captures the raw, unscripted moments, whether they’re from a global event or a local story, providing visual testimony to the realities of our world.

Each of these genres, while overlapping in skills and techniques, serves a unique purpose and caters to different audiences.

What is Runway Photography?

Runway photography is a specialized genre within fashion photography that focuses on capturing live fashion shows. The essence of this discipline is to chronicle the unveiling of designers’ latest collections as models stride down the runway. 

It serves both as a visual record of a designer’s work for a particular season and as a means to share the collection with a wider audience, including those who couldn’t attend the event.

How do you photograph a runway?

Photographing a runway requires a blend of technical know-how and an intuitive understanding of fashion’s fluid dynamics. Here’s a basic guide:

Positioning: Secure a prime spot, preferably at the end of the runway, to ensure head-on shots of the models. This allows for a full view of outfits and minimizes angular distortions.

  1. Equipment: Use a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a fast lens (like a 70-200mm) to allow flexibility in zooming and capturing details.
  2. Settings: Opt for a fast shutter speed (at least 1/250s) to freeze movement. Given the usually well-lit nature of runways, an aperture of f/5.6 or f/8 should suffice. Use continuous autofocus mode to keep moving models sharp.
  3. Anticipate Movement: As models walk towards you, try to anticipate their stride to capture them at the right moment, usually when one foot is just in front of the other.
  4. Capture Details: While full-length shots are crucial, don’t forget close-ups of accessories, shoes, and intricate garment details.
  5. Post-Processing: Given the dynamic nature of fashion shows, some post-production might be needed. Adjustments in brightness, contrast, and minor cropping can enhance the final output.

What is Street Fashion Photography?

Street fashion photography is an organic exploration of style away from the controlled environments of studios and runways. It captures the spontaneous and evolving expressions of individuality, showcasing how real people interpret and adapt fashion trends. 

More than just documenting clothing, it offers a candid glimpse into the zeitgeist of an era, reflecting the interplay between fashion and culture on the bustling streets of cities worldwide.

How to Choose a Place and Time for Street Fashion Photography?

Selecting the right location and time is paramount in street fashion photography. Vibrant urban settings, teeming with life and activity, often serve as ideal backdrops. Places where people naturally congregate, be it bustling marketplaces, city squares, or popular cafes, are typically rich with photographic opportunities. 

Timing is equally crucial. The ‘golden hours’ just after sunrise and before sunset provide soft, diffused lighting that can add a magical touch to photographs. However, the midday hustle and the contrasting shadows can lend a different, edgier vibe. 

Ultimately, the choice of place and time should resonate with the photographer’s intent, whether to capture a serene morning elegance or the dynamic pulse of a city at noon.

What are the 3 Major Rules in Street Photography?

In the vast and varied world of street photography, several guiding principles stand out. 

Firstly, respect is foundational. Always be mindful of individual privacy. If someone appears uncomfortable or declines to be photographed, it’s essential to honor their wishes.

Secondly, authenticity matters. The charm of street photography lies in its candidness. While it’s tempting to stage or overly direct a shot, the most impactful images are often those that capture genuine, unscripted moments.

Lastly, it’s all about observation and anticipation. A keen eye for detail coupled with an intuitive sense of predicting moments can distinguish a good street photograph from a great one. It’s about sensing the mood, the unfolding interactions, and being ready to capture it all when the elements align just right.