The Future of Fashion Photography

I’m working on some thoughts for a fashion photography section for Matt Bamberg‘s upcoming book “Defining the Future of Photography“. These notes are really rough but are start for the chapter on “The Future of Fashion Photography”.


a) Models male & female alike will move towards an increasingly more distinct eurasian look as China’s middle class grows and western world brands look to have global international appeal.


b) Web sites like have nearly made obsolete traditional fashion publications and have upset traditional power hierarchies and gatekeepers in the fashion world. Old models of advertising and distribution are being replaced with e-commerce, fashion blogs, and community sourced trends and fashions. Now is a bright time in history for emerging and independent creative photographers to get their foot in the door and launch their career.


c) Fashion photography industry thriving. when desktop publishing came around people theorized it would be the end of the graphic designer. Instead we’ve seen the opposite trend with professional designers being elevated to a class of creative elite. even in a day and age when everyone has a high-end SLR and Photoshop those with the best eye who are the most creative and master their craft will emerge artistically and financial successful as big advertisers look to penetrate new markets in our increasingly image dominated media environment.


d) Fashion photography cycles are speeding up. From design to production to marketing, distribution & merchandising… fashion trend cycles are speeding up. Thrust forward by advancements in each step of the supply chain and then accelerated further by digital photography technology, photo-sharing, online communities, the death of trade shows and exhibitions as primary industry networking functions. For the photographer this means you must have an increasing efficient work-flow yourself in order to keep up with the needs and expectations of fashion industry clients who are increasing moving at mach speeds.


What other emergent trends do you see? Androgynous models & designs. Photographers wrestling with new video capabilities of SLRs and trying to figure out how to work it into their business. Changes in our understanding of copyright, licensing & intellectual property.


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4 thoughts on “The Future of Fashion Photography”

  1. Money. How do we as fotogs get paid to do this stuff? We may be part of the creative / design elite you cite, but we’re all still trying to figure out how we butter our bread/feed our kids/ pay the mortgage w/ skills and tools that just a few years ago were generating (barely) enough income. I’m VERY curious to hear your thoughts on that viz fashion industry.

  2. seems the path towards financial sustainability for the independent creative in the future lies in the their adeptness at weaving together a patchwork quilt of creative awesomeness.

    to answer your question more directly… there’s money in this. its easy to look around and see success stories and people doing well.

    in terms of fashion, fashion photography, and our neck of the woods. there’s no fashion industry on vancouver island, hardly any in vancouver & only enough to sustain a few dozen folks or more in canada it seems.

    that will probably never be a big money make for your nor i while we live where we live. people seeking to the elusive holy grail of making a living in the fashion industry will likely chase their photography or design jobs to places like new york, paris, london, shanghai, tokyo, etc.

    i’ve found that in order to sustain the creative work that i want to do i focus half my time on jobs in and around canada and the other half of my time on jobs in the US and beyond. it’s a hodgepodge of creating, writing, talking, teaching, sharing, strategizing & hustling. it’s creating assets now that can be used to create growth and large projects down the road. it’s a process of ongoing refinement of yer craft, yer voice & yer perspective. perspective.

  3. I think your comments are right on the money. Its all about where you live. If there is an industry located there and you are good enough you will be able to make money. If there’s no real fashion industry where you live and you want to be a fashion photographer then you might have to consider a) a change of specialty or b) a change of location or c) adding another feather to your cap that pays the bills, that way you are not relying on the your fashion photography to pay the bills. I suspect only the elite fashion photographers can live where ever they like and command enough for each shoot to fly in.

  4. I do agree with the money issue that despite how good you are as a fashion photographer, you do need a industry to support it. I do feel it in my chest, since im a freelance fashion photographer in Macau (South of Asia), a small town where there is no fashion industry. My luck is that i got a full time job to support my creative photo works…this is the pain thruth.

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