Freeze frame

The lowdown

You have the camera, the model, the costume… But would all of this add up to a great fashion photograph? Not without vision, says Tarun Khiwal, who believes that there is no set formula to climb the ladder of success in this field. One should spend years in experimenting first, and then create his/her own sensibility. Though most budding fashion photographers make good money, it is hard work and the number of years spent in this field that establishes you in the top bracket. Senior fashion photographers with a good track record and those who have consistently produced great work shoot big campaigns for brands, both domestic and international. Their work also involves a lot of travelling given the nature of the work. They also shoot a lot of portrait-based campaigns and beauty campaigns. For this, one needs to have an understanding and develop a keen sensibility of the subject. Budding fashion photographers shoot a lot with younger fashion designers. During the initial part of his career, a fashion photographer gets to work a lot on lookbooks and catalogues. The better ones end up shooting campaigns for designers, which help a great deal in portfolio building. The best way to get ahead is to assist a senior photographer for some time.

Fashion photography being a creative field, adherence to time doesn’t work. There is no such term as schedule in this profession

The payoff
The salary depends majorly on the number of years added to the portfolio and the quality of work. At the initial stages of career, the pay is good enough. With fame, the fee rises as well

* An eye and a passion for photography
* The language of a photographer is images, so have a vision and believe in your sensibility
* Teamwork skills, which are required at the later stage of your career
* Perseverance, as establishing oneself is hard work

Getting there
There are no formal fashion photography degree programmes. However, to learn basics, one can do a degree course in photography. Currently, degree programmes are offered at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels. There are exceptions, but as a rule you need to know photography well before specialising as a fashion photographer. Some institutes have courses in fashion photography and some hold workshops from time to time. Aspirants can also do a one-year fashion photography diploma course and then work or specialise further

Institutes and URLs
* Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi,
* National Institute of Design,
* APEx,
* Shari Academy of Professional Photography,
* Light and Life Academy,

Pros and cons
* You travel a lot and meet new people from various countries
* Initial years of struggle
* Income may be erratic
* Huge investment needed

Do original work. Shoot what your heart says and not what your mind says. There is no overnight success in this field --- Tarun Khiwal, a Delhi-based fashion photographer


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