Things to Remember When Shooting Outdoor Fashion Photography

photography outdoor

Fashion photography is a form of art that has a unique challenge. While most forms of photography need you to compose around a subject, fashion photos kind of require you to do that around two. Part of the goal of fashion shots is to highlight the model, acting like a more traditional subject in the image. The other part of the goal is the outfit itself, which must also pop and be showcased in the image.

There are a number of things that you need to remember to accomplish the goal of showcasing both model and outfit. For those who are new to the fashion photography business, these details are easy to forget. However, if you keep these in mind, it helps you along the way to becoming a professional fashion photographer.

Keep the Models Comfortable

As with any other photo shoot, it is important to make your models comfortable. Yes, sometimes fashion photography requires they do things like model summer attire on a rooftop on a cold day. However, that doesn’t mean you, as the photographer, have to make it harder for them.

Talk to them. Communicate what you want and listen if they have any good ideas. Work with them and keep them as comfortable as you can, given the circumstances. This helps make the image better at capturing the feel that you’re going for as you snap those shots.

Check the Location Early

One of the advantages of an outdoor fashion shoot is that you don’t need to worry about expensive lighting or set design. However, if you don’t know the location, this can also be problematic. It is imperative that you have a chance to see the location for yourself before the shoot. It could just be a day before the shoot itself if there’s not much leeway in the schedule.

Knowing the area beforehand lets you get better ideas on how to compose the images or what poses might work, as well as pick out spots that would frame the model and outfit better. If there’s time, you could also check what the lighting conditions are at certain times. You never know if you might need to bring a Soonwell LED lighting panel on-site because there’s too much glare and you need a counterbalance to it.

Choose the Backgrounds

On a related note, choose your backgrounds in the location wisely. Sometimes, you want to have a clear field with as little visual “clutter” as possible to compose the narrative of the photo. Other times, you want to have things present that help you frame the model and outfit. So while you’re out scouting the location ahead of time, take note of the areas that inspire you.

However, don’t be afraid to be spontaneous. Sometimes, the best ideas happen when you’re struck by inspiration in the middle of a plan. Just remember to highlight the model, not overwhelm them.

Time of Day

The time of the day is also important. Sometimes, the outfit determines the time and you need to adjust your plans. Other times, you have the opportunity to pick the best times for your fashion photo shoots.

In general, the rules for better outdoor lighting times apply here. In other words, you want to avoid the hours where the sunlight is more intense. In general, the lighting for photography is best just after sunrise or just before sunset, with variances based on where in the world you are. On a cloudy day, the lighting is less intense and you have a chance to take advantage of natural dimming to better frame your shots.

Use Exposure

Remember how to best use exposure. Exposure is going to be crucial for you in general, but also in two specific circumstances. You can adjust this in post-processing, but it’s not advisable. Get the right exposure when you take the pictures already, so you minimize your work when you actually sit down to edit the photos to finalize things.

Mix Up the Lighting

Mix natural and artificial lighting, which is something that can help highlight things if needed. For instance, you can create a rim effect by using the sun as a falling key on the model and the light of the flash at the back. You could also try to use the flash as the main light source and the sun itself as a rim light or kicker.

The RAW Format

Finally, remember to use the RAW format. You don’t want to be using another image format, because RAW captures all the details. Yes, it consumes a large amount of data storage, but it also gives you more material to work with during post-processing. It also helps give you more room to maneuver when correcting for underexposure or overexposure. You can, of course, change the image format after processing is complete.

You might need to bring spare storage if you’re taking a lot of images. Then again, for an outdoor fashion shoot, you’ll want to bring a lot of spares of everything anyway.


Fashion photography in the outdoors faces the same challenges that any outdoor photo shoot does. If you keep in mind all the things we outlined, you’ll find yourself taking better outdoor fashion photos. Remember these and practice, and before you know it you’ll be taking excellent pictures.