In fashion, the photography is the easy part. What makes or breaks a successful shoot is proper planning and great production skills.

My photographic career began three decades ago when I arrived in London at the age of 24 and landed an assisting job with a fashion photographer. The contacts I made while assisting over the next few years laid the foundation for my later professional career. Looking back, it all seems so easy. Back then you could actually earn a living from editorial work and there seemed to be plenty of jobs to be found as long as you were prepared to drag your portfolio around town.

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What I soon learned though was that having a successful career in fashion and beauty photography involved much more than just technical camera know-how. As with any type of specialisation it all boils down to you having two things: the photographic skills, plus a deep knowledge of your subject. In this three-page article I'm going to share some advice, drawn from experience, about what it takes to pull off a successful fashion shoot.

Taking the picture is the easy part...

Some photographers don't like to admit it, but it's true. There are a lot of wannabe fashion and beauty photographers out there today, and they can all take pictures. The problem most have is that while they love the idea of photographing attractive models, they don’t have a real empathy or understanding of their subjects or specialised knowledge in a particular area of beauty or fashion.

Producing a beauty or fashion shoot involves choosing hair, makeup and clothing stylists who can help you fulfill the client's vision for the product.

If you’re to make a living out of fashion photography you need commissions. And to keep those coming you have to prove your photos work for the target audience, which will mostly be women. This is a crucial distinction between fashion work and the glamour/boudoir photography that's aimed at a male audience.

In my case I ended up specialising in photographing hair. Over the years I have been lucky enough to work with some of the biggest names in the hairdressing business and have gained a thorough appreciation of what works in front of the camera and what doesn’t. This experience gives me the ability to direct hairdressers on a shoot and guide them to produce the best possible looks. Then there is also the knowledge of how to choose a makeup artist and clothes stylist and assemble a creative team. These are all important steps in coordinating a successful shoot. Oh, and then there is the photography you do at the end - that’s the easy part.

Most people think of fashion photography as being all about clever techniques and working with glamorous models. These things are important of course, but like any other professional discipline good photography always has to be built upon firm foundations, which means knowing how to produce a studio shoot, or at least getting someone who knows their stuff to do this for you.

Click here to continue to page 2 of our article - Fashion Shoot: Tips from a Pro