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


  1. Plan the outfit around the model
  2. Use colors wisely
  3. Pay attention to details
  4. Use accessories to create interest
  5. Consider the location and theme
  6. Experiment with different styles
  7. Communicate with the model and photographer
  8. Keep an eye on current fashion trends
  9. Be ready for last-minute changes
  10. Practice makes perfect

If you've ever looked at a fashion magazine and marveled at the stunning images, you might have pondered about the magic behind them. The reality is, it's not just about the camera or the model, but largely about the styling. Styling makes a difference in fashion photography—it adds depth, tells a story, and brings out the model's personality. Here, we'll talk about some handy fashion photography styling tips to help you create stunning, magazine-worthy images.

Plan the outfit around the model

When it comes to fashion photography, the model is your canvas and the outfits are your paints. The first of our fashion photography styling tips is to plan the outfit around the model. It's not enough to just have a pretty dress or a stylish suit—the outfit needs to complement the model and bring out their best features.

  • Body type: Different outfits suit different body shapes. For example, a high-waisted skirt can accentuate an hourglass figure, while a straight-cut dress might flatter a more slender physique.
  • Personality: The outfit should reflect the model's personality. If your model is bubbly and energetic, go for brighter colors and fun patterns. On the other hand, if the model is more reserved, you might want to opt for neutrals and simpler designs.
  • Comfort: The model needs to feel comfortable in the outfit in order to pose naturally and confidently. Ensure that the outfit fits well and the model feels good wearing it.

Remember, fashion photography is all about telling a story and the model is your main character. The right outfit can go a long way in bringing that character to life.

Use colors wisely

Colors play a significant role in fashion photography. They set the mood, evoke emotions, and add a dimension of depth to your images. Using colors wisely is, therefore, a pivotal fashion photography styling tip.

  • Color Theory: Understanding basic color theory can be a game changer. For example, complementary colors—which are opposite each other on the color wheel—can create a vibrant look, while analogous colors—that are side by side on the color wheel—can produce a more harmonious feel.
  • Emotional Impact: Colors can evoke certain emotions. Red is often associated with passion and intensity, blue with calm and trust, and yellow with happiness and energy. Use colors to evoke the desired emotion in your images.
  • Color and Background: The colors in your styling should complement the background colors. For instance, if your backdrop is a lush green forest, an outfit with earth tones or even a contrasting color like red can stand out beautifully.

One of the biggest fashion photography styling tips to remember is that color can be a powerful tool. Use it wisely, and you can create images that are not only visually appealing but also emotionally resonating.

Pay attention to details

Details can make or break a fashion photograph. They're what separates a good photo from a remarkable one. Paying attention to the minutiae is a tried and true fashion photography styling tip that can elevate your work to new heights.

  • Outfit Details: Small things, like a ruffled sleeve, an intricate embroidery, or a distinctive pair of shoes, can add depth and interest to your image. Always take a moment to highlight these elements in your styling.
  • Prop Details: Props can add a layer of story to your image. A vintage hat, a well-placed book, or a classic car in the background can hint at a character's personality or the narrative of the image.
  • Location Details: The location itself provides numerous details to play with. A cobblestone street, a graffiti wall, or an old wooden door can serve as fantastic backdrops, adding context and texture to your photo.

Remember, the devil is in the details. By honing in on these, you can bring a unique touch to your fashion photography styling, making your images more engaging and story-driven. So next time you're working on a shoot, don't forget this essential tip—pay attention to the details!

Use accessories to create interest

You've picked out a stunning outfit, and the model looks fantastic. Now, it's time to add some spice with accessories. Think of accessories as the cherry on top—they might not make up the bulk of the look, but they add a sweet finish that brings everything together.

  • Jewelry: A statement necklace, a pair of dazzling earrings, or an antique brooch can turn a simple outfit into a showstopper. But remember, less is often more—don't let the accessories overshadow the outfit.
  • Hats and Scarves: Hats and scarves can create visual interest and also add a touch of personality to the model. A chic beret, a colorful scarf, or a cowboy hat can drastically change the vibe of the outfit.
  • Bags and Shoes: Never underestimate the power of a great pair of shoes or a stunning bag. They can pull an entire outfit together and even become the focal point of the image.

Adding accessories is like sprinkling magic dust on your fashion photography styling. They make the outfit come alive, adding layers of interest and charm. So next time you're styling a shoot, remember to accessorize—it's a fashion photography styling tip that can make your images pop!

Consider the location and theme

Picture this: you've put together the perfect outfit, complete with accessories. But when you step onto the set, something feels off. The outfit clashes with the backdrop, or maybe it doesn't fit the mood of the shoot. This is why considering the location and theme is a crucial part of fashion photography styling.

  • Location: The location can dictate the style and vibe of your outfit. Shooting in a sleek, modern studio might call for minimalist, futuristic fashion. If you're shooting outdoors in a forest, you might want to lean into earth tones and bohemian styles.
  • Theme: The theme can also guide your styling choices. If you're shooting a summer campaign, you may want to opt for light fabrics and bright, vibrant colors. For a winter shoot, thick fabrics and warm, rich tones might be more appropriate.

Just as a great actor considers the script and setting before stepping into character, you too should consider the location and theme before diving into fashion photography styling. It's a bit like cooking—if you're making a spicy dish, you wouldn't add sugar, would you? So, remember to sync your styling with the location and theme, and watch your fashion photography shoot transform into a compelling story.

Experiment with different styles

Imagine if we only ate one type of food all our lives. Sounds pretty dull, right? It's the same with fashion photography styling. Sticking to just one style can make your portfolio seem monotonous. That's why it's important to mix things up and experiment with different styles.

  • Classic vs. Contemporary: Don't be afraid to blend elements from different eras. Pair a classic '50s silhouette with a modern graphic print. Or try combining a Victorian-era corset with a pair of edgy, ripped jeans. These unexpected combinations can create a unique visual impact.
  • High Fashion vs. Streetwear: High fashion can often seem out-of-reach and unattainable. But when paired with streetwear, it becomes more accessible and relatable. Try mixing a luxe velvet blazer with a simple graphic tee, or pair a couture gown with a pair of chunky sneakers.

Remember, fashion photography isn't just about selling clothes—it's about selling a lifestyle, a story. By experimenting with different styles, you can create a rich tapestry of narratives that engage and captivate your audience. So don't be afraid to break fashion rules and push boundaries—the most memorable fashion moments often come from daring experimentation.

Communicate with the model and photographer

Communicating effectively is like being a great conductor— you get to create a beautiful symphony instead of a cacophony. In fashion photography, you're not working alone. You're part of a team that includes the model and the photographer. How well you communicate with them can make or break your shoot.

  • Express Your Vision: Before the shoot, share your ideas and inspirations. Don't just say "I want a natural look." Instead, explain what "natural" means to you—maybe it's minimal makeup, flowing hair, and an outfit in earthy tones.
  • Listen and Adapt: The model and photographer bring their own experience and ideas. Listen to their input. They might suggest something you hadn't thought of—like a different pose or lighting that could take your concept to the next level.

Remember, communication is a two-way street. It's not just about getting your ideas across, but also understanding others'. This synergy can lead to a more successful shoot and stunning results. Because when everyone is on the same page, it's easier to create images that tell a compelling story. And isn't that the ultimate goal of fashion photography?

Keeping up-to-date with the latest fashion trends is like having a secret weapon in your fashion photography styling arsenal. Trends can offer fresh inspiration and keep your work relevant. Here are a few ways you can stay on top of the fashion game:

  • Subscribe to Fashion Magazines: Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar—these are just a few of the many fashion magazines out there. Flipping through their pages, you can spot the latest trends, from oversized blazers to funky prints.
  • Follow Fashion Influencers: Social media influencers are often the first to sport new styles. Following them can give you a real-time update on what's hot in the fashion circuit.
  • Attend Fashion Shows: Fashion shows are where new trends are born. They're a goldmine of inspiration for fashion photography styling tips.

But remember, while trends can guide you, they shouldn't dictate your work. After all, fashion photography is all about showcasing your unique style and creativity. So, feel free to bend the rules, mix and match trends, or even invent your own. Because fashion is not just about what's in vogue—it's about expressing individuality.

Be ready for last-minute changes

In the world of fashion photography, change is the only constant. A sudden rainstorm might force you to switch locations, or a wardrobe malfunction might require a last-minute outfit change. The key to handling such surprises lies not just in preparation, but also in adaptability.

Here are a few tips to help you stay calm and creative when faced with unexpected changes:

  • Have a Plan B: Always have a backup plan ready. If you're shooting outdoors, know of an indoor location you can shift to in case of bad weather. Similarly, always carry additional outfits and accessories for the model.
  • Stay Flexible: While it's great to have a vision for your shoot, be open to improvisation. Sometimes, the best fashion photography styling tips come from spontaneous ideas.
  • Keep a Cool Head: Last-minute changes can be stressful, but remember, stress can hamper your creativity. So, take a deep breath, and tackle the situation with a positive attitude.

When you're open to change, you'll find that it often leads to better outcomes. And with every unexpected hurdle you overcome, you'll grow not just as a stylist, but also as an artist.

Practice makes perfect

When it's about fashion photography styling, practice truly does make perfect. The more you work, the more you'll understand the nuances of different fabrics, colors, and styles, and be able to create stunning looks that complement your model and the overall theme of the photoshoot.

Here are some tips to aid your journey towards perfection:

  • Experiment: Don't shy away from trying out new things. Whether it's a bold accessory or an unconventional color combination, give it a shot. You never know what might click.
  • Learn from Mistakes: Every mistake is an opportunity to learn. If a certain outfit or pose doesn't work, take note of it and figure out why. This will help you avoid similar missteps in the future.
  • Seek Feedback: Don't hesitate to ask for feedback from your peers. They can provide fresh perspectives and valuable insights on your work.

Remember, becoming proficient in fashion photography styling doesn't happen overnight. It's a journey filled with trials, errors, and endless learning. So, keep practicing, keep learning, and keep creating magic with your fashion photography styling skills.

If you're passionate about fashion photography styling and want to learn more, don't miss the 'Starting Out In Fashion Photography' workshop by Tiffany Mumford. This workshop will not only help you understand the essentials of fashion photography but also provide valuable insights on styling, lighting, and composition. Bring your fashion photography skills to new heights by learning from an expert in the field.