10 Composition Tips for Fashion Photography
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. Use the Rule of Thirds
  2. Experiment with Angles
  3. Play with Lights and Shadows
  4. Incorporate Lines and Patterns
  5. Focus on the Subject
  6. Add Depth
  7. Consider the Background
  8. Use Colors to Create Mood
  9. Capture the Details
  10. Tell a Story

Imagine you're flipping through a high-end fashion magazine. The vibrant colors, exquisite clothing, and the striking poses of the models all captivate your attention. But, have you ever wondered what makes these images so compelling? The secret lies in the composition. Mastering the art of composition can take your fashion photography to a whole new level. So, how to improve composition in fashion? This blog post offers ten simple yet effective composition techniques that will help you create stunning fashion photographs that stand out.

Use the Rule of Thirds

First on the list is the well-known rule of thirds. This rule is a basic yet powerful tool that can help you create balanced and visually appealing images. Here's how you can apply it to your fashion photography:

  • Imagine a 3x3 grid on your viewfinder or screen: Some cameras have this as a built-in feature, but if yours doesn't, you can easily visualize it.
  • Position the model or key elements along the lines or intersections: Instead of placing the model right in the center, try aligning them with the grid lines. This can add a sense of balance and interest to your photo.
  • Use the grid to balance other elements: If you're including other elements in the frame—like a prop or a backdrop—use the grid to balance these with the model. This will ensure that every part of your photo works together to tell a story.

Remember, rules are meant to be broken. So, once you're comfortable with the rule of thirds, feel free to experiment and break it when the situation calls for it. After all, the goal is not to follow the rules blindly but to use them as a guide to create the best composition for your fashion shots.

Experiment with Angles

Next up, it's all about angles. Too often, we stick to eye-level shots. While these can produce great images, experimenting with different angles can open up a world of possibilities. So, how to improve composition in fashion through angles? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Try shooting from a low angle: This can make your model appear taller and more dominant. Plus, it can add an interesting perspective, especially when shooting outdoors with a sky backdrop.
  • Go high: On the other hand, shooting from a high angle can make your model seem smaller or more vulnerable. It's also a great way to showcase the clothing if your model is laying down or seated.
  • Get creative: Who says you need to stick to vertical or horizontal angles? Try tilting your camera for a diagonal angle. This can add a sense of movement and dynamism to your shots.

Remember, every angle tells a different story. So, don't be afraid to move around and try different perspectives. Who knows? Your best shot might come from an angle you've never considered before.

Play with Lights and Shadows

Lighting is like the secret sauce of photography—it can make or break your images. So, the question is, how to improve composition in fashion with lights and shadows? Here's a hint: it's all about balance.

  • Embrace the golden hour: This period shortly after sunrise or before sunset provides the most flattering natural light. The warm tones can add a unique mood to your photos and highlight the details of the outfit.
  • Experiment with shadows: Shadows can create depth and add a dramatic effect to your images. Try using the shadows of buildings, trees, or even the model's body to enrich your composition.
  • Try backlighting: Backlighting is when the light source is behind the subject. This can create a beautiful silhouette effect or a halo-like light around the model. Just be careful not to overexpose the background.

Remember, lighting conditions won't always be perfect, and that's okay. Sometimes, it's the imperfect lighting that creates the most stunning shots. So, embrace the challenge and let the lights and shadows play!

Incorporate Lines and Patterns

Next stop on our journey of how to improve composition in fashion? Lines and patterns. They are peppy elements that can add a dash of zing to your photos. Let's see how:

  • Use lines to direct attention: Lines, be it straight, curved, or zigzag, can guide your viewer's eyes to the subject. For instance, the lines of a long, flowing dress can lead the eye towards the model's face.
  • Patterns for impact: Patterns, whether in the background or the fashion itself, can add a compelling visual interest. But remember, too much pattern can be overwhelming—balance is key.
  • Break the pattern: A pattern interrupted can be a powerful tool to highlight your subject. Imagine a model in a red dress against a repeating black and white background—the contrast is striking, right?

Lines and patterns are everywhere, from the architecture around us to the clothes we wear. They're like the secret language of photography. Once you start seeing them, you'll realize their potential to transform your fashion compositions. So, keep your eyes open and your camera ready!

Focus on the Subject

Next tip on how to improve composition in fashion? Zeroing in on your subject. After all, fashion photography is all about showcasing the outfit or the model, right? Let's explore how to do this effectively:

  • Use selective focus: By adjusting your camera's aperture, you can blur the background while keeping your subject in sharp focus. This brings the attention straight to your model and the garment.
  • Position wisely: Placing your subject off-center can often catch the viewer's attention more than a dead-center position. Remember the rule of thirds we talked about? It's a game-changer.
  • Isolate the subject: Using a simple backdrop or a large empty space around your subject can help isolate them, making them stand out.

Remember, the subject is the star of your photograph. Everything else - the background, props, lighting - are supporting actors in this visual drama. So, make sure your subject shines bright in every frame.

Add Depth

Adding depth is another excellent strategy on how to improve composition in fashion photography. But what does adding depth mean? Simply put, it's about creating a sense of three-dimensionality, of depth and space, in your two-dimensional photograph. Here's how:

  • Layer your shot: Including objects in both the foreground and background of your shot can create a sense of depth. For example, shoot your model through a crowd, or use props or architectural elements in the foreground.
  • Use shadows creatively: Shadows can create a sense of depth in your photographs. A well-placed shadow can give the illusion of more space and make the image more dynamic.
  • Play with perspective: Shooting from high or low angles, or using wide-angle lenses can drastically change the perception of depth in your images.

Remember, fashion photography isn't just about the clothes or the model — it's about creating a visual story that draws the viewer in. And adding depth can make this story much more captivating.

Consider the Background

Backgrounds are often overlooked in fashion photography, but they can have a major impact on your composition. A well-chosen background can enhance the subject and tell a larger story. So, how to improve composition in fashion by considering the background?

  • Choose appropriate locations: The location you choose should complement the fashion you're showcasing. A grungy, urban background might be perfect for streetwear, while a lush, green park might be ideal for spring dresses.
  • Control distractions: A noisy background can steal focus from your subject. Try to find a balance where the background adds to the image but doesn't overpower the subject. It's about enhancing, not competing.
  • Use depth of field: A shallow depth of field can blur the background, putting the focus squarely on your subject. This can be especially useful in busy environments where the background might be distracting.

Considering the background can take your fashion photographs from good to great. It's not just about the clothes or the model — it's about the entire scene. And every element in that scene, including the background, plays a part in your composition.

Use Colors to Create Mood

Color is a powerful tool in photography, especially in fashion. It can set the tone, evoke emotions, and even tell a story. So, how can you use color to improve composition in fashion photography?

  • Complementary colors: These are colors located opposite each other on the color wheel. When used together, they create a vibrant, dynamic look. Picture a model in a bold red dress against a deep green background. The contrast grabs your attention, doesn't it?
  • Analogous colors: These are colors located next to each other on the color wheel. They create a harmonious, balanced feel. Think of a monochromatic outfit in different shades of blue, creating a soothing, calm composition.
  • Color symbolism: Colors can symbolize different emotions or concepts. For example, red can symbolize passion or excitement, while blue can represent calm or peace. Use color symbolism to reinforce the mood you want to create.

Color can be a game-changer in your fashion photographs. It can help guide the viewer's eye, create depth, and add interest to your composition. When used thoughtfully, color can take your fashion photography to a whole new level.

Capture the Details

When it comes to fashion photography, the devil truly is in the details. You can greatly improve the composition of your photos by making sure you capture the little things that make each outfit unique.

  • Material textures: The fabric's texture can add a layer of depth and interest to your photos. Is the material smooth and silky or rough and rugged? Capturing these details can help the viewer feel as though they can reach out and touch the fabric.
  • Accessories: Never underestimate the power of accessories. These small pieces can make a big statement in your photos. It could be a chunky necklace, a sleek watch, or a pair of bold sunglasses. Make sure these details don't get lost in your composition.
  • Stitching and patterns: The intricate stitching or unique patterns on a garment can be a point of interest in your photos. By focusing on these details, you can highlight the craftsmanship that goes into each piece.

Remember, in fashion photography, every little detail matters. By capturing these elements, you're not just taking a photo—you're telling the story of the outfit.

Tell a Story

It's true what they say—every picture tells a story. In fashion photography, your goal isn't just to capture a model in an outfit; it's to weave a narrative that draws the viewer in. So, how can you use composition to tell a story in fashion photography?

  • Body language: The model's pose can speak volumes. Are they standing tall and confident, or are they slouched and introspective? Use body language to express the mood and message of your story.
  • Props and setting: These elements can help set the scene. Are you shooting in a bustling cityscape, a quiet beach, or a cozy home setting? Each of these will tell a different story. Similarly, props can add to the narrative. Is the model holding a vintage suitcase, a bunch of flowers, or a cup of coffee? What story does that tell?
  • Emotion: As a fashion photographer, your job is also to capture the emotion. Is the model happy, thoughtful, or melancholic? The expression on their face and the emotion in their eyes can add depth to your story.

Remember, a good fashion photograph does more than just showcase an outfit—it tells a story. So, use composition to weave a narrative that will captivate your audience and leave a lasting impression.

If you enjoyed these composition tips for fashion photography and want to further develop your skills, don't miss the workshop 'Tips To Compose More Compelling Photos' by Austin James Jackson. This workshop will provide you with additional techniques and insights to create visually stunning and captivating fashion photos. Dive in and elevate your photography game!