BPP 151: Steve Brokaw - Fashion Photography 101

Steve Brokaw is an Indianapolis Fashion Photographer with more than a decade of experience. Today he breaks down the different types of fashion photography and how to break into the business when just getting started.

Become A Premium Member is access to more in-depth questions that help move you forward!

In This Episode You'll Learn:

  • What drives Steve to shoot fashion

  • Why fashion photography is not always about hard lines and angry looking models

  • The different types of fashion photography

  • The job description of a fashion photographer

  • How many people are involved in a fashion shoot

  • How much styling is needed to shoot fashion

  • Who is responsible to find and hire models

  • That is is possible to be successful in fashion even if you dont live in Los Angeles of New York

Premium Members Also Learn:

  • Step by Step guide to breaking in to fashion photography

  • How to book paying fashion shoots

  • Who your client is as a fashion photographer

  • How to make money as a fashion photographer



Did you enjoy this episode? Check out more recent interviews with other great guests!

Full Interview Transcript:

Disclaimer: The transcript was transcribed electronically and may contain errors that do not reflect accurately what the speaker said. Because of this, please do not quote this automated transcript.

Raymond: 00:00 Raymond here from the beginning of photography podcast. And today we're talking all about fashion photography. So let's get into it.

intro: 00:08 Welcome to the beginner photography podcast with Raymond Hatfield, the podcast dedicated to helping you grow your photography skills. Raymond interviews the world's top photographers in their field to ask questions that will get you taking better photos today. Now with you as always, husband, father, home brewer, La Dodger Fan, and Indianapolis wedding photographer, Raymond Hatfield. Welcome back.

Raymond: 00:39 This episode of the beginner photography podcast. I'm your host, Raymond Hatfield. And I cannot tell you how excited I am to be here today. I come up with a lot of interviews, right? It's, it's one every single week that comes out. A new episode comes out every week. And me, I'm a, I'm a wedding photographer, so sometimes it's hard for me to think about other genres, right? Because there's a lot of niches in photography. In fact someone in the group just this week posted a link to somebody who just does photography for book covers. Like that is pretty narrowed down. You know, when you're starting out and you're thinking about becoming a photographer, you're probably not thinking, you know what, I would love to do, just shoot photos for people who are going to use the photos on the covers of books, right? So this podcast is really opened up not only you know, my thoughts on photography, but just open my eyes to how anybody can make it as a photographer, no matter how narrow a they, they go in photography.

Raymond: 01:50 And today we're talking with a fashion photographer in fashion photography. While it's not a as niche down as somebody who just shoots photos for book covers, there are lots of John, like there's, there's sub genres of, of fashion photography. And I didn't know that, but it makes sense. And today we talk about a lot of those and kind of the differences of fashion photography. So this is a really great interview and I'm really excited. I'm really excited and it's with another photographer right here in Indianapolis. So a great, great interview today. The first, I wanted to give a shout out for a iTunes review this week. This week the shout out goes to Deb Reese. This is, this is a fun review. Deb says for anybody looking to learn photography from the ground up. This is your podcast. It's easy to listen to and through a Raymond's interviews and with guests and solo teachings e the podcast answers questions about cameras, equipment and photography that a beginner not even know to ask.

Raymond: 03:02 That is so cool. Deb, thank you so much for that five star iTunes review. If you haven't left a, an an iTunes review, I would, I would ask you to consider doing so. It only takes a moment of your time and who knows? You might just hear a your name here on

the podcast next time I give a shout out. So again, Deb, thank you so much for that review. This weekend, this past weekend, I had a, a wedding. I want to share this real quick. I had a wedding and it was a, it was a smaller wedding. Typically I shoot you know, weddings with about 150 to 200 people. But this wedding that I had on Saturday was just 20 people. It didn't even have a reception. Well, I didn't go to the reception, but the, the ceremony itself was just 20 people.

Raymond: 03:49 It was this couples closest friends and family. It was very intimate. Everybody knew each other, everybody was very well not connected. Of course they're all connected. The family, everybody was just, you know, it was very comfortable. Everybody was very close with each other and there was a different vibe to that wedding than most weddings that I go to. I think when you have like a very large wedding, there's just a lot of moving pieces. And on the wedding day, like over time, that's going to, when you have so many moving pieces that's going to build up stress in a variety, right. Because that takes a lot of just making sure that everything is, is in the right spot. And this wedding that I had on Saturday, it was so stress free and relaxed. And it wasn't even until like moments before the ceremony started, they realized, wait, are we, are we walking out together?

Raymond: 04:41 Do we walk out separately? Like how is this going to work? Because what they knew, they knew the goal of the day was to get married. The goal of the day wasn't put on this show. And it just, it just, everybody had a great time and it was very fun to be a part of. But it was a very interesting ceremony because it took place like in a little conservatory garden with like a waterfall. And it was very, very small, a very tight little area of this conservatory. And even though it was a small wedding with only 20 people, it was packed. I mean, it was tiny. And that made shooting quite a challenge because not only did I have to cover, you know, both sides of the aisle to get his reaction, her reaction, some wides with you know, the guests and then the whole bridal party as well.

Raymond: 05:32 You had to navigate in between people left and right and dodge, you know, it was, it was, it was very challenging. And not only that, but I realized something. I've never photographed a wedding that was behind a waterfall and even though it was just like trickles of water coming down it made autofocus extremely difficult because the camera would want to focus on the waterfall instead of the couple behind the waterfall. So that made it very challenging. But I mounted a GoPro on my camera to to record the whole thing and I'm going to be sharing segments of that in the beginning of photography podcast, Facebook group. So if you want to check that out, I highly encourage you to come join the group and that is just by going on Facebook and searching for beginner photography podcasts and you will, you'll find the group, there's a few questions to answer what you do.

Raymond: 06:23 You're going to be given access to the group and you can check out that video. So I'm excited to share that one. Okay, let's go ahead and get on into today's interview with Steve broke. Off, he broke as a fashion photographer here in Indianapolis. And what you're going to find out is this is a very not technical, but v like very like list oriented episode. So Steve shares so many ideas on like, like a workflow of how to get into fashion photography, which is just invaluable. A lot of times I try to ask questions that are about, you know, like your ideas, how do you go about doing something like this? And when Steve Does, he says, you need this, you need that, you need to do this thing, and then you need to do these things in that order and then get that done before moving on to this step. And it was very eyeopening into how much goes into fashion photography. So you're really gonna enjoy this one too. If you're not driving bust down a pen and a pad to go ahead and write down all the ideas just to keep up with this interview. So let's go ahead and get on into this interview right now with Steve Brokaw. Okay.

Raymond: 07:35 Today's guest is Steve Brokaw, a fashion photographer from right here in Indianapolis today. I'm excited to talk about the wild and sometimes unknown world of fashion photography. So Steve, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Steve Brokaw: 07:48 Oh, thanks Raymond. I really appreciate it. Sounds like it's gonna be a good time.

Raymond: 07:51 I'm excited because fashion photography is something that a me along with a lot of other new photographers know nothing about. We kind of look at it as like this wild west. And I think now that as, as as time goes on with Instagram influencers, lifestyle photography, there's, there's become so many kind of sub genres that the whole industry of fashion photography kind of gets a little gray. So again, I'm excited to have you here today and, and talk to you about your experience. Perfect. Yeah. So before we get into all that, you have had an extensive career or, or time with being behind the camera. Can you tell me how you got your start in photography?

Steve Brokaw: 08:34 Yeah, I been a photographer, I guess since I was a kid. So I've always had a camera in my hand in probably about, I'm going to say almost 20 years ago I started to get more serious about, you know, doing this on a regular basis. I was working professionally in the finance world, so I was had a corporate gig. And what I was doing was doing, before it was even called street photography, I was doing a lot of, you know, it's going out in the street whenever I traveled on business and just photographing all types of scenes. But what I was finding that over time I was doing more like when I've looked at my photos, there was focus on people and a focus on like stylish looking people or people that were wearing something unusual or people that you know, just stood out in the crowd.

Steve Brokaw: 09:24 So what I understood in looking at those images was that I really enjoyed what I would call portrait people, beauty photography. And so I started to do that more as my main focus. And what I found out was to be able to do that. You really needed to an environment to do it in. So about 12 years ago, I set up a studio here in downtown Indianapolis and that's pretty much all I've been doing since then is just focusing almost exclusively on really three John Arras fashion, beauty and portrait photography in primarily a studio setting. And it's gotten so active that a couple of years ago I retired from my corporate gig and have been focusing almost exclusively on doing this on a studio setting. So it's really been a lot of fun. It's been quite a trip.

Raymond: 10:12 Yeah, that sounds like quite a trip for sure. Especially to find kind of that, that passion for something new, this new hobby that got you really excited while still working in the corporate world. Ubut I want to, I want to go back to that moment for,ufor a minute. I want to know kind of kind of when you first picked up the camera, so when you first picked up the camera, the, these are gonna be film cameras, correct? Right. Okay. So, so,uI, I want to know, can you talk to me about kind of that,ulearning process of having to take a photo, wait until you saw the photo and then make decisions based on that? How, how did you best learn photography?

Steve Brokaw: 10:52 You have photography, whether it's film or digital, I think it has the same process. It's just a different workflow. Yeah. And for me, you know, it was enjoyable just getting out with something and trying to capture an image. And what's, what I find exciting about it and what I think it gets a lot of people into it is that it's a moment in time. So you take a picture of something, whether it's a, a dog running across a your backyard or it's a on a vacation or it's your first, your first child's first time of walking, whatever it is. That picture will only occur that one time. Yeah. And so what I found was there was a real passion for me and I think for a lot of people of capturing moments. And so that's the classic snapshots. And what I was finding is that when I was looking at all my pictures there were a lot of snapshots.

Steve Brokaw: 11:44 And so you take a roll of film 36 or 24, and there might be two or three images that you know, you keep in a good, in a good role. Yeah. Yeah. but then it slowly migrated to digital, but it's the same process. And that is you have to see something in your mind, you know, hey, I really liked to capture, I'm going to go on a trip to Yosemite and I wanted to photograph some some mountains and some trails and some wildlife. And you do that and you come back and you look at the image and say, ah, you know, they were all kind of overexposed. So what do I have to do with, whether it's a film or digital camera to make the the light correct. Or you take a picture of a your first child or your girlfriend or your boyfriend, and you look at the faces, oh man, it's too red, or it's too dark, or wow, you know, we were on beach, but all the, the faces is too dark while I was shooting with the sun in the back. So from that, you look at those images and you try to figure out what do I need to do to get better? And just over time you do start getting better. You find out, you know what, this camera doesn't work for me anymore. I need something a little bit better. So it's a process and it's a process of learning, developing what's in your eye, what you like shooting, and then improving it over and over and over again. So it's, it's a it's a long journey.

Raymond: 13:03 Yeah. Well, you know, what I picked up most from that is that is the amount of time that it takes. It does, you know, it's not it's not as instant. Even though now we can take a photo and just look at the back of the camera and have that instant gratification, that doesn't mean that whatever lessons you need to learn from that photo are going to sink in right away. And as, as you were just saying, you know, you spend the time behind the camera and you, you really can't really can't go wrong. You can't help it get better if if you really do that. Right.

Steve Brokaw: 13:28 Yeah. I think one of the challenges that people have today, and this is one of the things that was an advantage of film, but I don't want to say, Hey, film is better than digital. It's not, it's just another way of capturing an image. But in today's environment, you have a cell phone. Everybody has a camera essentially. And I think what happens a lot of times is the people, especially with social media, they just want to put something up. They want to get something on their Instagram, on their Facebook, on snapchat. They want to send something to their friends. And so what happens is that the quality of the images and as important as just getting some content out there. And so I think to a certain extent there is a difference between taking a photograph and taking something just to record it. And so what happens is that I think that if you're using a camera in you're doing it on purpose, it kind of forces you to get better.

Steve Brokaw: 14:21 Because you do look at that image and you say, you know, boy, this just doesn't look, this doesn't look nice. The skin is too red or the hair's all messed up or you know, the background doesn't work correctly. And so I think that is, if you're doing photography for my intentional purpose, it really forces you to get better. Versus if you're just taking snapshots to post on content, unless you're an influencer or unless you do this, you know, because you want really high quality content. I think a cell phone can make you a little sloppy to be honest with you, especially if you're going to put in a lot of filters. If you're going to use a lot of you know, just take 58 shots and just find the one that you liked the best. You know, if you're doing that professionally, you're doing that with a client.

Steve Brokaw: 15:06 You can't do that. I mean, you know, you'll have the, your work with that client once. So I do think that, you know, you really kind of need to focus on what you want to do with your photography. And if you just want to take snapshots and put it up on Instagram, just, you know, just do it. Yeah. But if you want to do it where you're starting photographer and you may want to do it professionally or you just want to do it for a hobby and want people to look at your image and say, wow, this is really nice. You need to do it with an intent and you need to learn. You need to develop. But it happens over time. It doesn't

happen right away. And that's one of the big challenges that I think a lot of people have. They see a photographer, they see Instagram images and they think, wow, that's so good. I want to do that. And they get very frustrated because, you know, they don't see that image quality right away. And so there's, okay, well I need to get a better camera. No, you don't need a better camera or I need better lights. No, you don't need better lights. You just need to improve your eye. So it is a process.

Raymond: 16:04 So how do you improve your, I if, say, I, I kind of take me back to when you were doing street photography right before you were even really considering doing this professionally or going into this field w w w would you say that you had an ability to see lines and light while you were out or how did that develop?

Steve Brokaw: 16:24 No, not at all. Not at the start. I mean, when I first started, you've look at images and you think, man, these are great. I mean, I'm just the best. And then you show it to somebody else and they say, oh, it's nice where you put it up on Instagram or Facebook. And I mean, I was doing it before those, but you know, you put it up today and you get, you know, 25 30 likes and you think my, I'm, I'm the best. But you put it in front of somebody who does it professionally or you look at high quality content, somebody you inspire to be like, and you look at it and you'll say, Ooh, this isn't good. And so it's just over time. So a good example is like with street photography. I've got a good friend Valerie Jardin who I think you've interviewed recently.

Steve Brokaw: 17:06 Absolutely. And she was one of the people that I used to follow and I used to get inspired by, she has a very unique eye. She has a very unique way of using light. And so she was somebody that inspired me on the street photography side. And so I would look at her images and I would say, OK, I, I see how you're using light. I see how you're interacting with people in the scene. So you, you get inspiration from people like that and you look at their work, you don't necessarily copy it, but you get inspiration from it. So let's say you're doing landscape work and you're brand new landscape photographer, well then what you do is you go and you look at other landscape photographers that inspire you. You know, you go on to Pinterest, you go to Instagram, that you use hashtags to find the work and you see their work and see what makes it nice.

Steve Brokaw: 17:54 What, what inspires me is it the saturation is, it's the way they use the light and you get that inspiration. Then you go out and you practice and there's nothing that can be practice. And so you just go out, you know, you take your camera with you all your every day, you keep it in your car and you keep it in your purse, keep it in your backpack. And when you go out and you see something, you know, you're out at lunch, take some shots you're on a vacation, take some shots and just constantly work at it. So it's a, it's a process. It's an evolution and you've just got to constantly look at yours, your work, you've got to self criticize yourself, you've got to figure out what worked, what didn't work, and then, you know, you put it back out there and you try again.

Steve Brokaw: 18:36 The other thing that's important and I think this is really nice that a lot of people have today that I didn't have when I was first starting out, is that there is this social ability and because of this social ability, you can put your content out there and you can ask really high quality photographers, what do you think about this? And most of those photographers will take time and they'll respond back to you. You'll connect with them, whereas you can never do that previously. Right? And you know, a lot of times photographers will want to help other photographers and they'll tell you, you know what, I love your work, but maybe you ought to take a look at the way the sun is hitting the face of an individual. Or you know, you're doing too much. Backlighting so practice, look at things that inspire you look at individuals and inspire you and to just go out and practice, practice, practice.

Raymond: 19:30 That was like super actionable. If anybody is listening right now and didn't take anything away from that, then, then they're just not listening.

Steve Brokaw: 19:36 Yeah. And I think that's one of the things that's important too is a lot of people say, well, you know, I look at somebody, let's say like a a Valerie Jardin. And she travels all over the world and she goes to different locations and, and so, you know, it's because of her location and now she gets good shots because you know, she's in Paris or, well, you know, she's sponsored by Fuji, so she has some of the nice cameras. No, no, that's not it. You know, if you gave her an inexpensive camera and put her in a small town USA, she feels still get amazing work.

Raymond: 20:05 I would love to do that. I've bet that she would thrive in a situation.

Steve Brokaw: 20:07 Oh yeah. It's great because she has that. I so the way you get that high is you just practice. So like I said, if you have a, if you're just starting out and you have a brand new camera that you know your parents got to at Costco, or you just, you have your cell phone, just go out and shoot some shots and you can select something. So let's say today I'm going to shoot the color green, so you go out and I'm just gonna keep my eye open for things that are green or I'm going to just shoot shadows. You know, people walking through shadows or I'm gonna photograph doors. So come up with a concept and then go out and shoot it, and you do it over and over and over and over again, and you'll find out pretty, pretty soon. You know, I'm the best person that I know that she had stores. Yeah. So, you know, I can't stress this enough. It's about practice and just being there. If you don't have your camera, it doesn't help.

Raymond: 20:59 Yeah. Oh my gosh. That was, that was great. Thank you so much for sharing that. So, okay, so we've talked a little bit about street photography there. Let's transition a little bit more into the fashion side of things. You mentioned that going out, you noticed that a lot of your photos have a similar aesthetic and it seemed kind of a fashion. When did you decide to like with intention move towards fashion photography?

Steve Brokaw: 21:26 I'm gonna say probably about 10 years ago. And I think it's important that people understand when, when I talk about or in concept of fashion, fashion is a, is a, is a broad Gianna. So essentially what you're doing is that there is really very few pure fashion photographers that all they do is photograph clothing or they photograph a scene for a magazine. Generally when people say they're a fashion photographer, they're shooting people, they're shooting beauty work, the shooting portfolio work. And that almost always includes fashion along with it. So as an example, if we did a typical portfolio shoot for an agency, that model is going to have fashion brought in or they're going to bring in fashion themselves and the photographer or the art director is going to say, you know what? We need to have five different looks. We need two casual looks to let's say more of a, a business style look in one high end fashion.

Steve Brokaw: 22:31 So you'll work with a designer, you'll work with a store or your work with the, the model, and they'll bring in those clothes. And so fashion is part of it. So you're doing a portfolio shoot that includes fashion. So it's important that when a lot of people say, Hey, I'm a fashion photographer, they think, okay, I'm just doing work for, you know, a high end brand. Very few people do that. Yeah. But what I found was that I migrated to that because honestly it was part of, of the beauty work I was doing. And also it's a very challenging r form because what happens is that you have to mix it with proper lighting. You have to match it with proper editing. You have to have the correct environment. You're working with a lot of people because you could have the best fashion in the world.

Steve Brokaw: 23:21 But if the, the model or the subject has terrible makeup or terrible hair, they're not going to be looking at the fashion because they're going to be distracted by the fact that the hair's flying away. Of course. Or if you may have the best fashion designer come in and you might have the best camera in the world, but your editing skills are terrible, then your clothing looks poor. You may have the best fashion, the best editing skills, you don't light it correctly. And so the top of everything looks well lit, but now the bottom of the clothing looks poor. So what I really liked about it was the, in the immense challenge of doing that type of photography so that you could have an image that came out and like, wow, that's really something else.

Raymond: 24:02 Yeah, it sounds incredibly challenging. In fact, just the other day, somebody in the, a beginner photography podcast, Facebook group posted something, I believe that they posted a photo and asked how they could edit it to look like a fashion shoot. And my response was simply that you know, Photoshop doesn't make a fashion photographer. Right. I would argue that if that was the case, anybody could show up, take any photo that they wanted and then create a fashion photo out of it. And I would argue that as a fashion photographer, you have to know your camera, your lighting, your composition, your interaction with with a model more than just about anybody else. Right? And then the editing is just kind of on top. Is that, does that sound about right? Just on top?

Steve Brokaw: 24:47 Yeah, I think so think about a f f. Let's say you're just starting out and you want to do a a fashion shoot or you want to do a, a fashion centric photo shoot. You, you have to have basically everything. And when I say everything, first of all, you have to have the proper equipment. So it's just assumed because we're talking about a photography podcast that everyone's going to have a camera and have a basic skill level of, you know, how to turn it on, you know, how to shoot you know, in raw or you need to, you can shoot in manual. But maybe you're still an auto, but you have to have the basics, understanding of your equipment. Secondly, is you need to have a location. So, you know, is it going to be in your house? Is it going to be outside?

Steve Brokaw: 25:32 Is it going to be an a studio? Is we're going to be some sort of a, a street scene? You have to understand what the location is. And so if you have a location, how are you gonna control the sound? How are you going to control the temperature, the wind people walking behind you? So that has to be thought out, the logistics of it. Then you have to have the, the people that go into it. So let's say that you have three pieces of clothing that you want to shoot. Well, you need the proper model that's going to wear those clothes. It's got a compliment. Their skin's got a compliment, their hair color. You have to have the proper person for that because that has to be so the clothing fits correctly on the person. Then you have to decide about the hair and makeup.

Steve Brokaw: 26:15 Okay. You're going to have the model do it themselves. A you going to do it yourself, you're going to bring in a team. How do you hire that team? What do you get that team? Then you have to physically do the shoot. So you have to coordinate it, get everybody there on time. You have to make sure it really shows up. It's going to be a long shoot. Three, four hours are going to have clothing. What about, you know, some place to go to the bathroom, someplace to change. Then once you do that, then you actually have to edit images. So the editing is going to be done, but to get you to just light roam, am I gonna use capture one? Am I gonna use you know, Photoshop, then you have to deliver your product to your client. So is that client the model? Is it a boutique, you know, do they want it so they're going to blow it up on a, on a billboard or are they going to put it just on their Instagram page so that determines the size? You know, what type of format? Is it appropriate? Is it consistent across all sh, you know, all images. So you don't have the color grading a different in every shot. So it is a very, very broad thing. And that's what I kind of, I like about it

Raymond: 27:21 It sounds like it.

Steve Brokaw: 27:23 It's a very complex process, but at the same time, that shouldn't discourage people. And the reason is, is that that is, that's the, the far end. But very rarely does somebody come in knowing everything about it. So you could have a friend, you could have your camera, you could have them wear something, you could go outside and you could practice with light, you know, in the shade, you know, out in the street. Get a piece of white foam core and use it as a reflector. Put something in front of the Lens. Have some hair, some wind blowing through their hair. You could do all types of things and you could just do it in your backyard. You could practice that and you could say, wow, that's really good. Okay, now what I'm going to do that's different. So now I'm going to have something where it's not going to be out in my backyard.

Steve Brokaw: 28:12 It's going to be against a white wall or it's gonna sell. Okay? It's against a white wall. So you're going to do it inside your house, but now you have a lighting issue. Okay? So what I'm going to do with lights am I gonna use the overhead lights. Well, now you've got a temperature issue, you know, color, temperature issue. Am I going to use a window light? How am I going to avoid harsh versus soft light? So that's the way, just with some very basic stuff, you can do some amazing work. And again, it's something you just build up on.

Raymond: 28:39 Yeah. Clearly just grows over time. It does almost with like any hobby. But I love your technical approach to it. I love that you're breaking it down step by step. And I know that anybody who's listening once again, who is interested in fashion photography at all is really going to enjoy everything that you shared there. Yeah. So when it comes to models though I think me personally as somebody whose never shot fashion before, whenever, I don't even know like all of the sub genres of fashion photography. But I would say that if you were to just ask me to do a fashion shoot and it would come to like the posing of the model, I would think that they did the models that fashion photography is all about like hard lines and angry looking models. Is that, is that right at all? Am I like very far off?

Steve Brokaw: 29:27 Well, I'm not very far off. So a lot of people think about when you talk about fashion photography, most people think of two things. So number one is what's called commercial or catalog work. So let's say you go to go on online and you look at Kohl's and you'll see the focuses on very clean, easily, very smiley, very well lit evenly lit look. So that's more for your showing off the clothing. So basically the model, and I hate to use this word as a coat hanger, they're just sitting there. They're just keeping the clothes up there, properly fitting the clothes. But that's not the main focus of the focuses of the clothing. Then there's editorial and editorial is what a lot of people think about. So that's the runway models. That's the the, the magazines. That's usually the moody looks not smiling.

Steve Brokaw: 30:26 Generally you can have all types of fashion but the idea is that you're setting a mood and the mood is what attracts people. So you see some let's say some very hard looking people or you see some hard lighting and it's a very dramatic look, okay, I want to look that way. So if I wear these clothes, I'm gonna look that way. Well, maybe, but it's the whole set up. So then there's other sub genres. So there's there's like lifestyle. So let's say you see a photograph of a Starbucks coffee and you see two people sitting at a table and a Starbucks, and they're smiling and they're holding their, their lattes. And you know, they look so happy together, see say, man, you know, if I go to Starbucks, that's the way it's going to be for me.

Steve Brokaw: 31:11 Yeah. So that's more of a lifestyle. Or you see somebody coming out of a shop, like a boutique and they're holding two shopping bags and they've got a nice clothing on and they're walking out a big smile on their face. You say, wow, you know, that

person looks amazing and they look so happy. So I better go to that boutique. That's more of a lifestyle. Then you can have others like fitness if you're in it, like in a gym, Yoga shop, I mean yoga a studio, you can have swimsuits, you can have fit models you know, that are a proper, proper size for a specific clothes. So there's all types of genres. But most people think about when you do fashion work, if you're doing something for publication or you're doing something where you want to set a mood, that's editorial photography. And so you want an editorial model.

Steve Brokaw: 31:57 If you're doing something for publication in a catalog or for a website, that's generally a commercial. If you're doing something for somebody who wants content for their influencer page or their Instagram, that's more lifestyle. So there's different types of, of photography and it's a different type of lighting. It's a different type of mood, sometimes the different type of model. And so you have to really understand what the client wants. So if you're starting out and you see somebody come to you a local boutique and says, Hey, I'd like you to shoot for me and let's say you've never done it before. The first thing you need to ask them is what style do you want? You know, is this going to go into into a magazine? Is it going to go on your website? Do you just need content for your Instagram? Or is this gonna go into a publication? In what type of shop is it, is as a youth shop? Is it a you know, it's nothing but hope to tour is it reconstructed fabric clothing. So you have to really understand what you're shooting and that's going to determine, you know, the style of your shoot and who you hire for it.

Raymond: 33:03 Yeah, I would imagine I feel already a bit overwhelmed with the amount that goes into fashion photography. I'm glad that there's others in the world like you who thrive in conditions like this. So let's say that a, we, that a, the boutique comes to us and they say, this is what we want. We know what style we want. Here's the clothes do it on you as the fashion photographer to hire the model and even do the what's the word I'm looking for? Just like the fashion styling, the styling or is it on them? How does that work?

Steve Brokaw: 33:39 Yeah, it's really depending upon both the client, the budget, your experience you know, the, the equipment, the location. But bottom line is fundamentally the person that's hiring you. So let's say there's a local boutique that's launching a spring line that's coming in and they've hired you because they've heard your name or they're, you're the friend of somebody to do the photography. So you're the one that's being hired. You're the photographer, you are responsible for basically everything. So unless there's an art director or a creative director who's hired you, the photographer is the one that basically does everything. You are the boss. So what'll happen then is that you have to determine, again, it's based upon the budget, you know, if it's for free, you know, a time for print type of setup, or if it's a page shoot, you have to determine what the budget allows.

Steve Brokaw: 34:37 So let's say that the boutique is going to pay you $200 and in return they get 10 images. Okay. So I'm just throwing those things out. Sure. And they're gonna use those for their online website and they want a consistent look, which means they want just one model. So, and they want it against they have a wall in their shop and it's a white wall and we want everything shot against that. Okay, well then you know where your location is, but you need to hire a model. So the first thing you need to ask is what type of clothing it's, is it a youth closing? Is it a more professional styles? You know, like going after work, I'm going for work. You know, what's that clothing like? And then based on that, you determine what type of model you want. And then you can either hire a friend somebody that they've recommended or you can go to an agency and hire the model.

Steve Brokaw: 35:35 Then you need to hire, determine if based upon the model and your budget, do you need somebody to work on hair and makeup? If it's something that's going to be a distance where you're focusing on clothing, it's not that critical, but you want to

have somebody that can do their hair and makeup because it's a full package. Yeah. But it's the photographer that plans all that out. And, and so it's something where generally somebody who's just starting out and the best thing to do is to apprentice with somebody or to assist somebody. Because you know, really there's no book that you can read. I mean there's a lot of websites, there's a lot of youtube videos on how to do it, but the best thing to do is just get in there and start doing it in the best way to do it without looking like a complete idiot is to be an assistant for some shoes.

Steve Brokaw: 36:18 But you don't, there's some basics. The basics are you need to know where the location is. Is it going to be street work so you can just do it outside on the street? Like on the sidewalk in front of the Boutique, is it inside the boutique or do you need to rent a studio? Then there's the lighting. How do they want it lit? They want a well lit because it's going to be in a catalog. Okay. You need some sort of lighting. So is that going to be studio lighting? Is it going to be ambient lighting or is it going to be sunlight? Then you have to determine, okay, if it's sunlight, what's the weather like? Is it going to be cloudy? You know, is it gonna rain? Is it going to be a studio? Okay. Is there a studio? Does a studio come with equipment?

Steve Brokaw: 36:59 Do you have to bring my own equipment? What's the cost? So you have a location issue, then you have an issue about the model, you know, do a higher model, you're going to provide the model for me. What's the budget for the model? You know? Then once you know what the budget is, who do I hire? Do I go to an agency? So there's some basic steps that you can follow. Sure. and it's really just a checklist type of thing that you can do, but once you do it once or twice, you find out it's fairly easy. Yeah. But what a lot of the same steps. It's always the same step. It's, it's a workflow.

Raymond: 37:33 So you mentioned obviously the agency, they're a modeling agency. When I think of an agency, I think of like, like having the like hire a model I guess, which, which is the point. So that I didn't get my point across there very well, but I'm thinking like as a, a, as a photographer maybe first time, second time only done this a handful of times. Are we okay? Too small to use an agency? How, how, how big of a job are we looking at to utilize something like that?

Steve Brokaw: 38:00 No, an agency is a business in the businesses to make money. And the way they make money is to book out models. So they are, they're representing models. And so an agency will, they do a lot of other things. They develop models, they place models, but fundamentally their job is to put models out to clients that are going to use that model to be photographed. Yeah. And so they do that for a fee and you pay the agency a fee. And for that fee they will tell you, you know, this is, we can make available. And you either direct book, somebody, say, I want, you know, this person, this, this male model that's on yet on your website or you do a casting where you say, you know, send me a f five comp cards of a six foot, two inch guys because I'm doing a shoot for a, a brand that, you know, once a photographic guy.

Steve Brokaw: 38:58 So you're working with that agency and they provide you a list of models that are available to for hire. Then they, it's just basically like any other business, you know, when do you need them? You know, will it be food provided? How long do you need them? This is how we'll invoice you, what your licensing needs. So it's a basic fundamental process. The challenges with hiring a model is that they're going, the agency is going to check you out. Sure. they're going to want to make sure that you have a reasonable reputation. You know, what's your fee structure? So if you say, Hey, look, I'm going to pay $100 for a four hours, well, they're not going to send you their top model. If they're going to send you probably somebody that's in development a new phase. And if for something that's, let's say starting

photographer, that's fine, you know you may have to spend a little bit of time of coaching them or directing them or posing them because they're new.

Steve Brokaw: 39:56 But if you have a big budget and you direct hire somebody and say, you know, I want this model and they've been on the board for, you know, five, six years, you may not need to direct them. May you just show them the mood board and they go, so I'm working with an agency can be frustrating the first time or two. But fundamentally it's like, it's no different than hiring a plumber. Actually, you know, you call up the company and say, this is my job, this is what I need. They'll say, okay, this is who we have available and this is our rate. And use decide whether you want it. And they come in and they show up and they do the work and they leave. It's fundamentally that way.

Raymond: 40:32 So with a plumber, I know nothing about plumbing, so it makes sense that I'm going to reach out and hire a professional. Otherwise I would do it myself. But with fashion photography do you have to have any sort of fashion sense personally too? Do you think be able to thrive as a fashion photographer? Yeah,

Steve Brokaw: 40:53 Yeah. You need to know the industry. You need to know style. You're not necessarily the person that's going to be doing the styling, but you need to know that, okay, if you're shooting you know, you're shooting a male model and you're shooting for a boutique you need to know how to pose them. You need to know what looks good together. You need to be able to watch the clothing to make sure that it's sitting correctly. You've got the buttons buttoned up correctly. If, if it's a fashion where they've not taken the tags off because they can just put it right back up on the rack, you need to make sure the tags aren't showing you know, so yeah, you need to have a sense of what looks good and what doesn't look good. You also need to understand how the lighting works.

Steve Brokaw: 41:40 You know, this pose may not be appropriate for the scene. So yeah, you need to have a certain sense of it. And the way that it's very, very simple to figure this out and the best way to do as if this is something you're serious about doing, then you don't need to take a class on it. You don't need to go to school on it. Just get some fashion magazines read them, look at them. You know, this is the classic look of the pictures and, you know, just understand, you know, how does that, how are people being posed? What does the fashion look like? You know, is it age appropriate? What does their hair look like relative to the fashion? What type of makeup is being used relative to the fashion and what you'll find over time as the photographer, you know, because you're controlling things.

Steve Brokaw: 42:22 If a model comes in and you're doing something very youth like let's say it's a a 16 year old model and they're doing for a youth boutique and the makeup artist puts some really over the top makeup on, you know, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, that, that doesn't work. That's, yeah, that's more of an editorial style. But if you don't understand that, then you're going to have these images where it's very youthful looking, but you've got makeup that's not appropriate. Or if you're going to do something where you know, it's going to show off certain, let's say the top well you've got to make sure that, you know, the, the setting is correct. So the top set comes out and you've got to make sure that, you know, the the makeup or the hair doesn't cover the theme, it doesn't take over. So you need to understand this stuff. And so there is a certain amount of, of training that you need to have an understanding of the industry. The other thing that's really important is that you have to understand what's in style.

Raymond: 43:19 Yeah. I mean, and for that reason alone, I don't think I can ever be a fashion photographer.

Steve Brokaw: 43:25 Yeah. I mean, you know, the thing is, is that that's why a lot of times I leave the the styling to a stylist because you know you know, what may look good for

me, we know what's good in my eye. Maybe a little outdated. It may not be contemporary for today. It may have been contemporary two seasons ago. So you do have to have a sense of style. You have to sense of what's contemporary today. And that's why there's a designers and there's a stylists out there that do that for you. Yes. Yeah. Well,

Raymond: 43:56 Thank God for stylist. They're helping all the people like me at least hit

Steve Brokaw: 44:01 The US. Is that one of the things about fashion, beauty, portrait photography is that it's truly a teamwork sport. You're not a a senior photographer. It's not like landscape photography or street photography and just go out and do it yourself. What you need to do is you need to be good at what you do. So if you're a photographer and you want to get into that, Gianna, you have to understand your aspects of it, how to use your camera, how to light, how to edit, how to do the business skills. But you're not going to learn how to do makeup. You're not going to learn how to do hairstyling. You're not going to learn how to design fashion. You're not going to learn how to dress somebody. That's why there are people who that's what they do. So in this industry, it's all about building a team and making sure that you know who's reliable, who has, you know, it's on point for their team, for their skillset, and you bring them together, whether it's a collaboration or it's a page shoot.

Steve Brokaw: 45:00 And so really as a beginning photographer who thinks, oh my gosh, this is amazingly complex. And so I don't want to get into it, but I really want to get into fashion photography, but I can't because it's so complex. Just focus on your thing. You become good at your thing, but start collaborating with people who are good at their thing and then form that team. And you could have, you know, I have the same makeup artists. I go to all the time, the same hairstylists all the time. I have one model I work with all the time or a couple of models or I have one agency that I work with all the time. Just keep working with them. But focus on yours, part of the the shoot of course. Yeah. As somebody just starting looking to bring somebody on, what position would you recommend to be the first to bring on, to build your team? Probably the model last. Generally speaking in a, in the fashion world. So if you're really truly interested in going to fashion, the person that generally I hire first is the makeup artist. Because the makeup artists compliments the clothing, compliments the face, compliments the mood. So if you have somebody that is excuse me a second. Oh, no worries.

Steve Brokaw: 46:16 For some reason I'm going to turn my phone on mute. Sorry about that.

Raymond: 46:21 No worries at all. Are connected world. I get it. Trust me. I know. Suddenly my phone rings. It's the phone, it's the iPad. It's the kid's iPad out there in the living room. Our computer, oh my goodness. My watch now. So yeah, I just got a new watch and it rings there. So generally if you're going to go into the fashion in

Steve Brokaw: 46:43 World ultimately you need to have a team. But generally what I do is that I've worked with makeup artists first. And the reason is, is that the makeup on a fashion shoot is just as important as the clothing. So the clothing will change. The people you work with, the designers may change, the stylists may change. The stores that you work with may change, but you can use the same makeup artists constantly. Yeah. And so generally what will happen is, is that you start working with a makeup artist and they'll start understanding what's your style is they'll start understanding, okay, this is going to be a standard editorial beauty shoot. We're going to be focusing on waist up and we're going to be focusing on a hairstyle. Okay, well then they're going to know this is the type of makeup we're going to apply on it.

Steve Brokaw: 47:34 You know, once you develop that relationship, they form a critical part of the team. The next person you generally work with is a hairstylist and the hairstylist, sometimes you have both what's called a hair makeup artists where they do both. And in most situations you can work with a hair and makeup artists that, that they do both and that's fine, but sometimes you want to have somebody that specializes. So, like in most of my shoots, I have a separate hair stylist and a makeup artist because somebody, you know, let's say that has really long hair and you need it styled properly you know, they may not know how to do it, you know, so you want to have somebody that that's their skillset. And so sometimes you work with different types of hairstylists. And then lastly, it's usually the the designer or the stylist and sometimes the designer is the stylist. So generally what you do is that you just have a list of people that you work with and based upon, you know, the type of shoot you, you reach out to those people. Then once you have that team put together then you hire the model.

Raymond: 48:44 I want to talk a little bit more now about the business side of being a fashion photographer. As a wedding photographer, a couple, they find me, they pay me money, I show up to their wedding and then it's over. With fashion photography, it's a little bit more complicated. Can you tell me just kind of the basics of how the industry works?

Raymond: 49:03 Hey Raymond here, and if you're listening to this, it means that you are listening to the free version of today's podcast, which means that you are missing out big time. You know, if you become a premium member, not only do you unlock the full interview with today's guests where they share so much more valuable information on how to become a successful photographer, but you also get access to the entire back catalog of past interviews with some of the world's most renowned and experienced photographers who open up and share how they got to where they are and what they would do if they had to start all over again today. Now, if you want to find out, become a premium member by heading over to patriotic.com forward slash beginner photography podcast or just head on over to beginning photography, podcast.com and click the link on our homepage. That's it. I hope to see you there. I was just,

Raymond: 49:55 I just had a an idea, a, and I got this from a video that I saw a long time ago, but something that might be interesting to do as a photographer is not to critique other photos. But like I would say as a fashion photographer, if you see an image or like you know, an advertisement out in the street, you could do like a quick little Instagram story or something of like, you see this like, I really liked this aspect of the photo. This was really great job. You know, photographer captured this thing great. Or something like that or, or give critiques, you know, that, I don't know. I don't

Steve Brokaw: 50:28 Know why I said that. That just popped into my brain or my thought. I know it's good. I think one of the things is it's about social interaction. What I found is that most people like working with people, so they want to make sure that you're a real life person, that you're sociable, that I can interact with you because as a photographer, you're working with another individual in my genre and your Gianna. And so they have to be comfortable with you. So they've got to understand, well, you know, Steve likes cats and he's got a studio and you know, he's of this age group and you know, so he likes this type of music. Well they've found that out because they've may have followed me on my social media. And then so it's more casual, it's more comfortable versus somebody coming in and say, oh my gosh, I gotta work with a guy who's my grandfather's age.

Steve Brokaw: 51:12 And it's maybe a little intimidating cause I've never been into a studio before. I've never worked with a hair and makeup artists. So they're super tense and so it doesn't come out well versus, you know, comfort level of just knowing these things. And the way you do that is by being a real life person on your socials. So it might be simply, you know, you'd go out and on your stories you take an image of a, you know, that billboard and say, you

know, I really liked that. I liked the way that the lighting was done on that. Or you know, you take a picture of outside of our department store of a window with some, some clothing and say, wow, that's really nice. I like the way they've you know, they've set that up. So you know, you show them that that's what you do, that's what you're alive.

Steve Brokaw: 51:51 Looks and I think that that's why the story side of your social media is good cause you can just pretty much put anything on there. Yeah. And there's a lot of people that do very well by developing their following just by developing a good storyline. The thing that I found those, you really need to be consistent with it. So people are watching it because we're looking at it because it's of interest to them. So I've always learned, just don't put anything political out there. Don't put anything that all of a sudden, you know, you want to see a one thing but they throw something else at Ya. So you need to be consistent. So it's just like your style. But it's a good idea. One thing you commented on Raymond, that I am a little uncomfortable with and that's about critiquing people. Sure.

Steve Brokaw: 52:36 what I've learned over time is that everybody has a style. Everybody has a, an interest. What motivates you may not motivate me. And so what I've learned is that I generally don't criticize people's images, even if, even if I've have years of experience and they have, they're just starting out in, they asked me, how's this image look? You know, it's hard to answer cause you're not bad photographer. Well, what I always tell people is that if you like it, then it's good. Right. You know, from a technical aspect, I might have these suggestions, but from a aesthetic standpoint, if you like it, if your friends like it, then it's a good image. Yeah. But, you know, from a technical aspect, I might work on the lighting a little bit, but I don't criticize the photographer and just generally don't criticize the overall, but I might critique an aspect of it, a technical aspect of it.

Raymond: 53:30 Yeah. I apologize if if my intent came off wrong.

Steve Brokaw: 53:33 Not at all. I think what's important though is there's a lot of people, especially new people who once they start getting good, they think that what they can do is they can be a judge. Yeah. They can be a judge. And Trust me, I've had a few people come to me that's like, you know, they, they'll comment on some of my images and, you know, it may be a legit thing, but I sit there and think, okay, well let me look at your stuff. I look at it as like, well, you know, that the lighting is really off on this, so I just, you know, it's about casting stones type of thing.

Raymond: 53:59 Right, right. Exactly, exactly. And it's hard when, like you said, you know, everybody kind of has a different eye. Everybody has a different style. Everybody's life experiences have, have brought them to a different point. And there's a lot of people who shoot, you know, very dark and Moody and there's a lot that you'd very light in area and that doesn't mean that either one is right.

Steve Brokaw: 54:18 Exactly. Yeah. I love that. That's really, really, really important for new photographers especially, is that don't worry about what other people think about your image. If you're just starting out, do it because you're having fun. Don't start off thinking I'm going to do photography to make money. Because if you do, then it becomes a job. Yeah. You know, do it because you enjoy it. Do it because there's a passion. Do it because I would do it even if I don't get paid. That's going to be a successful photographer. But if you say, you know what, I'm going to become a fashion or portrait photographer because you know what? I'm going to make x number of dollars a month and this is going to be my life's goal and my career. Then you know what? You're gonna just have another job. He models, we'll go work at Walmart, you know, because it's an eight to five type of thing.

Raymond: 55:06 Yeah, yeah. Well I don't, I don't know any more of a motivational way to in the podcast than that right there. Steve, that was wonderful. Before I let you go, can you let the listeners know where they can keep up with you online?

Steve Brokaw: 55:20 Sure. I'm pretty active in social media. I'm on Twitter. I go by my name just Steve Brokaw. Almost anything I can be found with that Instagram, Steven Brokaw my commercial site for my portfolio is Steven Brokaw, photography.com. And then as you might know, I also run a modeling agency, or at least I'm the business director of a modeling agency here in town and that seen models.com and I'm sure you can put all the links in the show notes.

Raymond: 55:50 Absolutely, absolutely. Also, side note do you still keep up with your film blog?

Steve Brokaw: 55:56 I do. Yeah. I haven't done anything recently because I,udid a little personal bucket list thing this year. I rode my bicycle across the United States.

Raymond: 56:05 Wow. Really?

Steve Brokaw: 56:06 Yeah. So I left the beginning of the end of February and just got back about two weeks ago. Oh my goodness. So I kind of put everything on, on hold for about about two and a half months.

Raymond: 56:17 Yeah, I would, I would imagine the, the amount of training and the preparation, especially just hearing your, just how your brain works and preparing for a single shoot, how it must be for an entire year planning for that him. But no. Yeah, I do a lot of film. I shoot probably five to six rolls of, you know, every two weeks. So wow. It's just, it's a lot of fun. Yeah. Well, like you said, I will leave links to all of those things in the show notes. Perfect. And Steve, I just gotta thank you so much for sharing everything that you did and I know that the listeners really appreciate it, so thank you. Yeah, I appreciate it too, Raymond, and you know, best of luck on the podcast. I think it's great what you're doing. And you know, we ought to run into each other sometime soon. We're gonna make that happen. Yeah, definitely.

Raymond: 57:01 What did I tell you? Did you fill up a notebook or two? I, I know that I did. This was, this was such a fun interview for me because very, very rarely, you know, do you get a podcast guest who just knows their stuff so well and then lays it out in just such a clear order? Right? There's been plenty of times where, you know, especially because this is like, you know, photography is, is artistic. It's an art and it's hard to put a process on that. But we weren't talking so much about the photography side of the art itself, but how to get, because that's, that's almost the easiest part. It's just doing what you love, right? Creating the art is just doing, finding out what you love and then doing more of that. All of the technicals are what is really going to trip you up, you know?

Raymond: 57:50 Oh, do I hire the makeup artist does a agency hire? But, and, and Steve broke that down today and that, that was so valuable. And I hope that you got a lot out of this interview cause I know that I did. So Steve, if you're listening right now thank you so much for coming on and sharing everything that you did seriously. I mean it was, it was a lot and even expanding on that, just a tiny bit could become a masterclass into becoming a fashion photographer. So again, I think you and I know that the listener, thanks you as well. Okay. That is it for this episode of the beginning of photography podcast. I want you to get out there. I want you to shoot as much as you can. I want you to stay safe. I want you to focus on yourself and let's say, all right, I love you all.

outro: 58:36 If you enjoy today's podcast, please leave us a review in iTunes or your favorite podcast player and continue the conversation with Raymond and other listeners of the podcast by joining the beginner photography podcast Facebook group today. Thank you. We'll see you again next week.

BPP 151: Steve Brokaw - Fashion Photography 101

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