Fashion photography: Any person, any camera, anywhere

This year I have been giving a series of fashion photography workshops across the Soho House Group in London and New York as well as The Gallery of Photography, Dublin. Incidentally, the Gallery of Photography was where I did my first ever photography course about 9 years ago so it’s really nice to have come full circle.

The workshop is entitled 'Fashion photography: Any person, any camera, anywhere' and the premise of the workshop is that you don’t need expensive camera equipment and technical prowess to take a good fashion photo. What you need do need are good ideas and if you can communicate those ideas visually, then even a smart phone will take great fashion photos for you.

Image taken with Canon 7D and Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT

Photo taken with disposable camera from Boots

These images are the premise of the workshop in a nutshell. One was taken with a professional camera and flash unit and the other with a £6 disposable camera from Boots. Although the top image is more on brand for me as a photographer (bold and colourful), I actually prefer the image taken on the disposable camera. The cheap film of the disposable camera gives the image a grainy feel, which makes the image look a bit like CCTV footage. Because the flash of the disposable camera is so weak, it means I have to stand quite close to the model. This results in the model being overexposed (and losing any realistic skin tone) and the background underexposed. I quite like this though, I think it makes the model look like she’s been caught doing something she shouldn’t. In this slide, I'm showing that it doesn’t matter if you have expensive camera equipment or not, what does matter is how you execute your idea and exploit the essence of the camera you do have.

Throughout the rest of the workshop I show some examples of my work that were taken with a really simple set up and work of some of the greatest photographers in the world that use famously simple technical set ups. What these photos show are that the ideas and intimacy with subject are the most powerful tools in a photographer’s arsenal, not the latest camera equipment.   

We then break up into groups and spend some time shooting and experimenting with ideas, concepts, poses, locations, narratives, etc. Students have said the most difficult thing can be to come up with an idea on the spot. Creativity is like a muscle, you need to exercise it regularly to make it strong. Use it or lose it! But you have to start somewhere. One idea begets another and teamwork is essential to this, which is why I recommend students pair up or shoot in groups. 

The group in action! Photo courtesy of Gallery of Photography

Me looking at the settings of one of my student's camera...and holding a bunch of balloons, naturally.  

A quick photo I took on my iPhone during the session. 

After the practical session has ended, we review everyone’s photos and I go through some quick editing and retouching tips. I’ve been so impressed by the creativity and skill of each group I’ve worked with. I'm giving another of these workshops at Soho Works this Saturday 19th November (open to Soho House members) and at the Gallery of Photography in Dublin early next year so keep an eye out here to book your place. Alternatively, if you want me to come to your company to give the workshop, get in touch