When shooting fashion or beauty for an editorial/commercial market the most important thing will be the team – NO EXCEPTIONS
MODEL will be the most important part of this team – The subject of your images.
This is something that aspiring photographers take a lot of time to understand and find a lot of excuses around this subject (some of them, because the ones that get it, are not aspiring for long).
Fashion or Beauty Model:
Pretty girls make awful models. Yes, this is the truth.
This is what shows up when I google “beautiful girl” (Don´t worry I filtered with “Labeled for reuse” in google image search)
You will notice some things all of them (or most) have in common: round features, lack of sharp/noticeable bone structure, soft look expression wise (also probably not enough variety of expression/poses) – These are pretty girls.
Models are not pretty girls, models are very special creatures that can be found everywhere in the world but only conform 0,02% of the population and you need a model to shoot fashion or beauty, not a pretty girl.
This is what shows up when I google “beauty editorial” – See the difference? Deep bone structure, extraordinary features, unique expressions and poses, distinctive characteristics.
If you don’t have a model, shoot something else, do portraits with character, do stylized lifestyle, glamour, or conceptual fine art. For those you can use regular people.
Because, if you try to do fashion or beauty with a normal – although beautiful – looking person, you will fail and no photoshop will help you.
I can´t stress this enough – You just can´t do beauty or fashion without a represented model or someone with real model´s stats.
If you can’t pay for a model because you’re starting out and only shooting self-founded editorials/submissions or portfolio material, agencies usually have something called new faces and they need images and experience so usually in exchange for some images they will let you borrow them.
How do you approach agencies? With a tasteful portfolio, an idea and a team
Portfolio: You can´t go to agencies without something to show, of course. You need to convey that you can shoot people in a good light and you have good taste.
Things that automatically would eliminate you (sorry in advance):
Having stereotypical glamour (tits & Ass) images in your portfolio.
Having dark, deviant art like, digital art images with composites of dark rooms and spiders or vampires
Having wedding images in your portfolio – Fashion and wedding RARELY mix and you better keep those genres separated in your social media.
Having images that try to be fashion or beauty with non models
Having filtered or over-proceced images.
Things that could help you:
Since you don´t have models yet – shooting good portraits of both male and females
Having lifestyle images
ONE SHOOT – done right with a woman that looks like a model (everything else should be good, idea/make up/styling) and instead of siding out your port sending only that shoot so they see only that of your work.
An Idea: You can´t go to or call/email an agency saying “I want to shoot something”, you need to have something more organized and precise if you want to be taken seriously.
You could even send them a brief or a mood board.
A Team: While you can ask for models just to test light, the agency will be more inclined to lend you models when they know you have a team to create images they can use
If you´re shooting fashion you need…. well… fashion.
Having great clothing/accessories, styled by a professional, is a must.
Cheap fabrics and bad finishing destroy images.
So start building your connections with every new designer out there, offer to shoot their collection, with another designer’s accessories and another designer’s shoes all fo free and you got yourself the possibility to actually shoot an editorial piece with their stuff.
Fashion stylists are really hard to come by but indispensable to put outfits together.
If you can´t find a fashion stylist, wardrobe producers or even designers directly – Usually quite fine with people shooting their stuff for free – Specially if you have a submission in mind.
Especially important for beauty work, a trained MUA, who knows how to apply make up for photography and understands color palettes as well as lighting.
A hair stylist who is as much of a control freak as myself :)
Finally, but not less important, of course, a retoucher:
If you can’t do it yourself or don’t have the time to do it properly you need a retoucher. Most starting photographers assume this is something they need to do themselves. The retoucher is an important part of that team, you don’t do your own make up or design the clothing or style them, why would you think you should do the retouching? It’s a different skills set and it takes a lot of time to do it right. I always advice photographers to be proficient with retouching to build that FIRST portfolio that will get you the better team.