What Are the Tips for Outdoor Fashion Photography?

Many photographers like to take portraits or fashion outdoors, as it does not require any huge investment, such as owning a studio space and lights. Though it might look like an easy task, there are few things that you need to be aware of before and while doing fashion photography outdoors.

Fashion photographers have an unsaid fascination for capturing the subjects in the outdoors. At the beginning of their careers, every photographer has a preference for shooting outdoors as it saves the cost of setting up an indoor studio. It has developed a parallel demand in mainstream fashion photography, striking a distinct style in the profession.

A fashion model portfolio contains at least a segment of outdoor photographs and that appears exotic and unique. Everything about fashion has upgraded over the past decade, but one thing that still hasn’t is the art of fashion photography. It is photography that had allowed us to see what types of fashion was on-trend before we were even born.

There is a well known–and rather obvious–fact floating around that fashion photography is all about fashion. While that’s true, these types of photos should indeed focus on the style present within them. The process of actually conducting a fashion shoot isn’t quite as straight forward. There is a lot more to take into consideration beyond what your models are wearing. Whether you are working with a paying client or just building up your portfolio, you want to make sure you put a little forethought into the shoot’s overall idea.

You might have a good-looking model and expensive camera and lens, but you still may not be able to capture professional results. Bringing out the freshness of the outdoor location and making it impactful needs prerequisite planning and preparation. As the tips mentioned below, you need not worry, which would help you drastically improve your results during your next outdoor fashion photoshoot.

Outdoor Fashion Photography Tips

Outdoor Photography

Fashion photography is fun yet very technical. You need to have ideas about outdoor fashion photography, and you should know how to do it. New styles of fashion photography come every day in the industry. So try to provide something extraordinary and unique. Here are some fashion photography ideas which you can apply during a fashion photography photo session.

Select the Models

Fashion photography is one of the essential outdoor fashion photography tips I would like to give to select the fashion models very carefully. No matter how your fashion products are. If your models are not pulling it up well, then the shoot will go in vain. Remember, a model is the face of your fashion product. Before selecting the model, you can hold an audition for your fashion photography. Do meet with them and click photos of them as a trial. From that, you can find which models for the photoshoot which is suitable for the photo session.

Scout Great Locations

In most parts of the world, fashion is highly seasonal. It changes every time the weather does. Having the winter styles ready to advertise in early fall allows the designers to stay ahead of the game, which means photoshoots are done well in advance of the next season. Photographers are affected by this timeliness because they have to consider this when choosing the location. This is another area in which seeing the styles beforehand will prove to be helpful. For example, if you’re going to be shooting a spring line, it doesn’t make sense to shoot somewhere that implies it’s fall outside, even though it very well may occur at the time of the shoot. Avoid including backgrounds that would give this away, such as fall colours on the trees. This may force you to get creative, but go ahead and create “rain” with a hose or make “snow” if you think it will add to the scene.

The first and foremost activity for any outdoor shoot is scouting. It should be considered at the very beginning because an outdoor location is full of possibilities and unpredictability. Proper scouting of the area will ensure more options for beautiful frames and backgrounds. It is suggested that a photographer should go to the location, preferably alone or with one assistant maximum, to have a complete introspection of the region. It should be done before a day or two rather than on the day of the shoot. Asking the locals can also be beneficial as they can suggest some unknown sites that will provide more appealing aspects of photography.

Scouting for that perfect location is essential to the work, not an afterthought. If the clothing you are photographing tends to blend into the scene, you will lose the much-needed separation between the subject and the background. Remember, the point of fashion photography is fashion! Don’t be afraid to bring in props if needed, but they should never distract from the model. You are looking for a setting that fits in with their clothing style, has a complimenting colour palate, and can go largely unnoticed, if not ignored.

Know the location well

The location is one of the first things you should finalize while planning an outdoor photoshoot. Scout the area at least once before the day of the shoot to ensure that you do not waste time on the final day. It is even better if you take photos of the places you feel could be perfect for your images and simply browse through them on the day of your shoot.

Select the Backgrounds Wisely

Besides models, other elements of the photo also really matter—one of the elements among those in the background. If the location is not attractive enough, the whole fashion photo of yours might go in vain. Talking about outdoor fashion photography techniques, selecting the background properly is an important tip. The best outdoor fashion photography background would be selecting outdoor locations. Natural locations as a background for outdoor fashion photography work well when you see the fashion photographs. You can also create background yourselves and do fashion photography outdoor.

It is essential to spend some time thinking about the background in your photo. You might see a beautiful location and simply pick up your camera and start taking pictures without even visualizing whether the environment will make or break your shot.

You need to think, visualize, and then frame accordingly, making sure that the colours in the background and the model’s clothes are not getting merged. The background colours should not overpower the model, which is the main highlight of your photo.

If you follow these practices for your next outdoor photoshoot, you would surely save a lot of time as you would have already pre-planned and pre-visualized your frames.

Choose the right time of the day.

Once you have finalized the fashion photoshoot location, you need to make sure that you choose the day’s right time to capture desired results. There is no fixed time of day that you should be shooting. It all depends on the weather conditions and how you want to use the ambient light.

Try and avoid the time when the sun is at its peak as it would create hard shadows on your model’s face. The safest time to shoot outdoors is either just after sunrise or a couple of hours before sunset. During a cloudy day, the light would be soft, and there would be less contrast in the background (depending on the backdrop), but it all depends on your choice. If you wish to capture photos with diffused light, you can go ahead and shoot during a cloudy day.

Time plays a crucial role in the outdoor shoot because the day’s timing will have direct control over the lighting. The kind of light should be determined previously to be synced with style needed for the shoot. It will be helpful as the photographer can directly check the amount of lighting according to the day’s time. This will also determine a fixed schedule as well as the equipment required.

Lighting is an element that matters a lot while fashion photography. Since there are two types of fashion photography, indoor and outdoor, we will talk about both. In indoor fashion photography, lighting plays the most vital role to make good fashion photography. While doing indoor fashion photography, you can use varieties of lighting kits best for fashion photography. Monolights, Powerpacks, Beauty Dish, Back panel etc., are primarily used for fashion photography. When you are doing outdoor fashion photography, you do not have to think about lighting too much if it is daytime. Natural sunlight is the best lighting system you can use. Just use a reflector while shooting outdoors.

Try mixing ambient and flashlight.

Go out of your comfort zone and do something different by using both ambient lights and flash. This gives an extra dimension to your photos. You can use the sun as the key light falling on the subject and place the second at the back of the model to give a rim light effect on their face or hair. Or you can use the sunlight as the rim light or the kicker and the flash as the key light source. This allows you to control the shadows on the face.

The Sun Is a Gift. Use It!

Pablo Picasso was once quoted saying, “There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.” While Picasso was probably speaking a bit more broadly, his words still hold a great deal of truth in their most literal interpretation. Many photographers are intimidated by the idea of photographing models using the sun as a main source of light. There is nothing to be afraid of. Not only is the sun capable of creating gorgeous light, it’s also free to use, and you don’t have to worry about packing it and lugging it around from location to location. 

How much easier could it get? Try these tips to help you get the most out of the sun:

  • Find and use an open shade like your best friend. Much like trees, a north-facing wall is always a good source for open shade. If the setting works with the fashion, setting up under structures like bridges and piers can also offer up some supreme filtered daylight. When all else fails, have a pair of assistants hold up some sheer, white fabric over the model to serve as a sort of sun-powered softbox. In the photo below, the balloons help mask the face from the harsh sun while masquerading as a creative accent.
  • If no open shade is available, first of all, ask yourself if you gave 110% during location scouting. If the answer is no, but it’s too late to switch it up, you can always ward off shadows by using a reflector aimed at your model or by using a flash on a low power setting to fill in any unflattering shadows cast on your model.
  • Looking into the sun is not good for your model’s eyes, and the squinting it will inevitably cause will not be good for your photographs. To help combat this, have your model close her eyes. Countdown from three and instruct your model to open her eyes on one while you simultaneously snap the shutter. This prevents her from having to stare into the sun for too long, thus preventing squinting.
  • If you can’t possibly attempt to do the shoot in broad daylight, there’s always a golden hour. Twilight and night shoots are possibilities as well, but these times can be equally challenging.

Try Different Concepts

Outdoor Fashion Photography

A fashion photograph should tell a story. People like fashion photographs when people see some story over the fashion photograph. As a viewer, I like seeing photos that have meanings. One of the secrets of fashion photography is to create concepts for fashion photography. Set some outdoor fashion photography concepts in your mind which you can apply during fashion photography. Try different concepts with fashion photography that convey a message to the viewers. Suppose you are shooting a sports brand. You can create a concept of the models playing sports and shooting fashion photos. You can also make some environment using fake sets to do fashion photography. If you think you can create sets only indoors, then you are wrong. You can also create sets to create concepts for outdoor fashion photography.

Create a Comfort Zone with your Models

If you do not have a better understanding and comfort level with your models in your fashion photography career, it is not a good thing. While doing outdoor fashion photography, make sure that your models are comfortable. Talk to them and make them easy before shooting. Give them the brief and give them some time to prepare themselves. Remember, if your models are nervous, the photos will not come up in a good way. So make the models comfortable as much as you can to get good photographs. That makes your models more confident. Try it out.

Work With The Designer

If you’re working for a designer, ask ahead of time to see a lookbook or sketches of the styles you’ll be shooting. This will help you get an idea of the style and give you plenty of time to brainstorm ideas for a potential theme. It can be a lot of fun having complete creative control, but the chances are that the designer will have some ideas to add to the mix. Be receptive to their ideas, but don’t be afraid to speak up if you have an idea to improve upon them. Ask the designer to meet with you in person to discuss both of your ideas and assure you are both on the same page.

Working closely with the models, observing the location, and determining the lighting are essential jobs. Apart from it, a photographer should primarily set the camera. According to the light at the time of the shoot and the composition of the frame, the photographer should take a call & adjust the aperture, ISO levels, and shutter speed to emphasize all the elements in the frame. Different angels and zoom level should be an experiment because one never knows a photograph can turn into a miracle after editing.

What cameras do professional fashion photographers use?

If you’re damn serious about taking your fashion photography skills to a higher professional level, or if you’re thinking of how to become a professional fashion photographer then, let’s start from the basics.

And the basic rule is to choose the perfect camera and lens which the professionals use. If you want to be a professional, you have to start using the tools they use.

The camera and lens the pro fashion photographers’ use are:

Camera for fashion photography

According to the top fashion photographers globally, the camera they prefer for capturing exceptional photographs is the Nikon D3X Digital SLR Camera. There are some great reasons behind this: it has a 24.5 mp resolution and a large CMOS sensor. It also has not one but two different live view shooting modes, which can continuously shoot at 5fps at full resolution. Therefore, you can take great fashion shots using this camera anytime, anywhere, outdoor and even indoor.

Lens for fashion Photography

A camera is almost of no use without a lens. To do exceptional fashion portraits photography, a perfect lens is highly necessary, especially for an outdoor shoot. The most highly recommended lens for capturing alluring fashion images is the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S ED VR II. It has a great focal length of 70 – 200mm with a minimum aperture level of f/2.8. It means a shallow depth of field is possible. Long-distance but high-quality shots can be clicked using this lens. Therefore, capturing outdoor fashion shots will become easier, and the photo will also look amazing.

Outdoor fashion photography camera settings

Now one thing that every professional photographer should know is that the camera settings for different types of photography are different. It’s because we have to keep in mind the concept of that photography. For example, if you’re doing landscape photography, then you will have to focus on all the details of that landscape, right? But if you’re taking a portrait, then your priority will be to focus only on the subject.

This is why outdoor fashion photography concepts also have different camera settings. These are:

The Aperture Priority (A) mode

For capturing fashion images, our priority should be the model and to keep only him/her in focus. We would need a shallow depth of field for it. Shallow depth of field will focus on the subject and blur the background. To attain this, we would need to control only the aperture manually. The aperture priority mode will let us control it manually.

For outdoor fashion portraits, we will need a lower aperture or the background may also come in focus. The recommended aperture should be at least f/2.8. This would help you to focus on the subject properly.

Lower ISO

In the outdoors, there will already be a great amount of natural light. The need for a higher ISO is less, or else the image will be too much brighter so that the subject will not even be visible. The aperture will also be lower, which means that the cameras will intake more extra light, and the sensor will only see the light but not the subject. To reduce light intensity and keep an optimal intensity, we need to lower the ISO. Recommended ISO should be 100 – 200.

Centre-weighted metering mode

There are different types of metering modes in a camera. But, for outdoor fashion portraits, the centre-weighted metering mode is most suitable. This metering mode focuses on the area which is closer to the centre of the meter. If you keep your subject at the centre of the frame, it will be focused more accurately, and the image will also be sharp.

Change your shooting mode to continuous shooting.

While taking fashion shots, your model may have to keep changing poses; only then you will be able to take actual candid photos. For taking these movements into your frame at the right moment, you may have to take continuous shots. And continuous shooting mode helps you to take continuous shots easily.


You can easily grow your fashion photography career with less effort if you follow these tips from above. The main secrets of fashion photography lie here. The world’s topmost photography genre includes the photography of style and fashion.

Being a photographer, you need to plan and stage the photoshoot to get the best possible results out of your model. From choosing the apt location to scheduling the shoot at the right time of the day, it is your job to get things planned to save time and energy. Try and get out of your comfort zone by adding more light sources such as flashlights or strobes. This will help give you more professional results. All you need to do is practice shots with the models, and then you can become a pro in it.

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