Fashion Photography Education Requirements and Career Information

Sep 11, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a fashion photographer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, career options and salary information to find out if this is the career for you.

A fashion photographer specializes in taking pictures that showcase clothing. They must be able to understand lighting and be able to direct models in ways that emphasize the fashion on display. While no formal education is required to learn this trade, many businesses seek out candidates who have associate's or bachelor's degrees in photography.

Essential Information

Fashion photographers take pictures that highlight clothes. The pictures a fashion photographer takes might be used in advertisements or designer's portfolios. Although no postsecondary training is needed to work in this field, courses and degree programs are offered in professional photography; these programs often include courses in fashion and fine art photography.

Required Education No postsecondary education required; some employers prefer job candidates with an associate's- or bachelor's degree in photography with a specialization in fashion or performing arts
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 6% decline (for all photographers)*
Median Annual Salary (May 2018) $34,000 (for all photographers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Fashion Photography Education Requirements

Fashion photography courses are offered at community and junior colleges, trade schools and vocational institutions. Typically, fashion photography is not offered as a full degree program by itself but is included in the curriculum of a professional photography program. Professional photography degrees are available at the associate's and bachelor's levels; in some cases, these programs might offer fashion or performing arts emphases. Photographers who use digital cameras might find specialized training in graphic editing software useful to their craft.


A photography degree program includes coursework in processing photographs, visual techniques and equipment. In fashion photography courses, students learn to set up effective lighting, work with make-up artists and stylists and incorporate a specific style into photographs. Coursework might cover copyright and licensing laws and business skills.

Career Information

Employers or clientele seeking fashion photographers look for qualities such as artistic talent, a feel for object composition and a strong style when evaluating a photographer. On many shoots, fashion photographers work inside studios with special sets and lighting; sometimes they shoot photographs in exotic outdoor locations. While taking photos, they guide the models to assume poses that best highlight the clothes. They also work with the client or designer to find out what type of photograph is required.

Career Options and Employment Outlook

Fashion photographers might find positions with magazine publishers, designers and advertising agencies. They also might set up their own studios and work as freelancers. According to 2018 reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the photography field is competitive due to the mass appeal of the career to job-seekers. It was projected that there would be more qualified job candidates than available positions in the years 2018-2028. The BLS stated that photographers with a diverse range of skills would have the best opportunities.

Salary Information

Self-employed fashion photographers generally do not make as much as those who have salaries. They must also purchase and maintain their own equipment, which might include expensive digital cameras and photo-editing software. In 2018, the median wage for photographers was $34,000, according to the BLS.

Fashion photographers specialize in taking images of clothing, shoes and other accessories. While there's no formal education necessary to enter this career, many businesses search for applicants who have at least an associates or bachelor's degree. Those who pursue those educational options will learn the basics of photography and steer them towards a career with a median salary of $34,000.

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