How To Make It As A Fashion Photographer
There are few industries that are harder to break into than fashion photography. Perceived as a glamorous, creative, fast paced and international lifestyle, fashion photography is one of the most sought after occupations.
Breaking into the industry can be even more challenging for women. Fashion photographer Nicole Gomes says that after a few years in the industry you start to notice how few women photographers there really are.
Working in London, New York and Los Angeles, Gomes has worked for clients such as Markus Lupfer, Hobbs London, Christian Louboutin, DC shoes and Toni and Guy.
While Gomes managed to break into the industry, she recognizes this is even more challenging for women. “It is just an accepted norm that this is a man’s industry,” she says.
But just how hard is it to break into the industry and what are some of the keys to making it early on in your career? Gomes shares her insights for aspiring women photographers about what it takes to succeed in the fashion business.
Start Where You Are
Aspiring photographers often ask Gomes for advice on how to start out if they lack contacts.
“Whether it is Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, whatever it is that you can start where you are and directly message people without having to have an email or a phone number,” says Gomes. “It is no longer about knocking on doors.”
While the industry is competitive, Gomes says the key to overcoming this is using contacts to gain access. Gomes admits she had trouble with this at first, because she wanted to “go it alone” in order to prove herself. “Getting into the industry is hard. It is completely reliant on who you know. While this sounds like a cliché it is completely true,” she says.
Hustle 24 Hours A Day
Hustling is a never ending game according to Gomes. She is constantly networking and meeting people at major events like fashion week in London, New York or Paris.
It is also important to use every opportunity to meet people in the industry. “A lot of people see me on social media and I am at these parties and they think I am just out having a good time,” says Gomes. “But actually I am working. I am there with my business cards.”
While this sounds calculated, Gomes says it is not. “It is about being personable, friendly and passionate about what you do,” she says.
Be Your Brand
The fashion industry is very much about who you are not just what you do. Gomes says that social media has merged her home and work life, which means it is important to build one authentic brand, as a photographer.
Building a brand involves strategically thinking about each post and photo that is shared on social media. While this can be time consuming, Gomes says it is an unavoidable part of the job.
Don’t Undersell Yourself
Gomes admits that the industry can be tough often providing very little indication if your work is any good.
“If feedback isn’t given, which is often the case…then you just have to be direct and seek it out,” she says.
While feedback is an important part, it is equally important not to undervalue yourself.
There is always someone who will work for free, especially in the fashion industry. Gomes says to avoid doing unpaid work unless the work helps you gain contacts or build up your portfolio.
“Don’t work for the same client for free more than once,” she says. “If they really like you they can pay you.”