The Fashion Photography Challenge


Two new members of Phlearn, Jenna Petrone and Angela Butler, will be taking over an episode every Wednesday to write opinionated articles.  In these articles, they will feature photographers and images, do a weekly challenge inspired by the article, then give the phamily a chance to show off their images and win some cool prizes.

Here is a little Background information on Angela and Jenna:

Angela Butler:

I’m 20 years old, an amateur photographer currently attending Alberta College of Art & Design. I’m from Newfoundland, but I travelled to Calgary, Alberta to go to arts school and pursue my dream of becoming a photographer. I will be going into my third year of college working towards a Bachelor of Design with a major in Photography in September.

Photography became a part of my life when I was 17 years old and was diagnosed with cancer. The camera I carried in my purse everyday became my therapeutic release, my documentation, and my story teller. It became more than a camera, it became my everything in the Summer of 2009.

Since then I have been diagnosed cancer free, started and completed a 365 days project, been featured in exhibitions such as PhotoSensitive’s Cancer Connections, The Bow’s Emerging Artists Exhibit, and Calgary’s Emerging Artist Exhibit presented by Vistek. Photography has become a huge part of my life, as I continue to document and tell you stories about my life. I still have a long way to go, but it’s a start.

Jenna Petrone:

I’m entering my senior year of studying photography at Cazenovia College located in upstate, New York.  For the past three years, photography has become a huge part of my life and after having my first experience with a 35mm camera and exposing myself to the amazing world of photography, I find it hard to imagine myself doing anything else in my life.

For the past 3 years at Cazenovia, I’ve been experimenting with different types of photography including: documentary with portraiture, conceptual, food, and Performance photography.  My recent work focuses on the idea of the imagination and the endless possibilities that it can create. Surrealism, dreams, literature, and other artists inspire my work. With these influences, I Draw out concepts, photograph them, and piece together my imagination through Photoshop.

The Fashion Photography Challenge

By: Jenna Petrone

One day last week, Angela, and I were cutting out pictures from fashion magazines to Collage on the wall at the studio.  I mentioned how I wasn’t the biggest fan of fashion photography but I couldn’t back up why I didn’t like it.  Could it be that I’m not always a fan of the poses photographers make the models do, the lack of concept in some fashion photography, or the fact that it’s meant to persuade people to buy the clothing on the models?

When I look at any type of photography, I always find myself trying to pull out a concept and a meaning from each photograph.  What was the photographer intending the audience to see or is it completely up to our own interpretation of the image?  For the few years I’ve been taking pictures and studying photography, fashion photography never stood out to me unless it was conceptual and I always found myself veering away from it.  After saying that I wasn’t a fan of fashion photography out loud, I realized that I shouldn’t bash something until I look into it and try it.

Fashion photography is the combination of two different forms of art: fashion and photography.  The purpose of fashion photography is to showcase garments on models in the best way possible to sell the idea of buying the clothing to the audience of the image (  Now, more than ever, fashion photography is not only being used to advertise for clothing companies, but it has become a style of photography that hundreds of photographers strive to achieve in their work.

For this article, I chose two photographers who really stood out to me in the fashion photography industry:  Sarah Moon and Raul Higuera.  It was difficult to pick just two photographers because within the past week I’ve been researching a countless amount of photographers for new content on Phlearn as well as for my own enjoyment.  As a result, I’ve found that I like and respect fashion photography more than I ever thought I would.

Sarah Moon

First, I will start with looking at the incredible work of Sarah Moon.  Sarah Moon is an iconic fashion photographer who immersed herself in the fashion world as a model in the 60’s and then began to pursue photography as a career in the 1970’s.  She is known for creating images that are soft, blurry, romantic, dream-like, and she focuses strongly on shapes (Lens Culture).

I stumbled upon the work of Sarah Moon during my research on Melissa Rodwell’s Fashion Photography Blog and the minute I started to look at her work, I fell in love. From first glance, you can see the emotion in each of Sarah’s images.  She manages to give each of her pictures a dreamy, surreal, and a somewhat mysterious feel to them, which is something you rarely see in fashion photography.  Each one of her images is unique, beautiful, and they are much more than what meets the eye.

I admire Sarah for being so different from the rest of the fashion industry and that’s why she stood out to me out of the hundreds of other fashion photographers out there.  What I like about her the most is the poetic way she talks about her photos and her thought process behind them.  She speaks in a way that most photographers can relate to.  She admits that sometimes she feels like she doesn’t want to be a photographer anymore during photo shoots but then that one perfect moment of the shoot changes everything and she is more inspired than ever to keep going.

Here is a video of Moon speaking about her work, it’s worth listening to all 9 minutes and 34 seconds of it.

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Raul Higuera

The second photographer I am featuring in this article is a man who goes by the name of Raul Higuera.  Raul was considered one of the best advertising photographers in the world before the age of 25, which is extremely impressive for the competiveness of the business.  His work ranges from advertising, to portraiture, to music, and much more.

The first thing I noticed while looking at Raul’s work is that he has a brilliant eye for lighting and for composing his images in general.  He also adds a sense of sophistication to each one of his images, which is something I really respect about him.   Overall, Raul is an excellent photographer who has his own style and a way with working with his models to make each one of his images amazing.

One of his pictures that I particularly enjoy is this simple image of a girl leaning on a blank wall.  So, what’s so great about this image?

  1. The lighting: The Shadow and Patterns that land on the girl’s leg and the back wall are beautiful and make the image visually appealing.  Without the Shadows making Patterns throughout this image, I don’t think it would be as strong.
  2. Her pose:  I really like the pose of the model in this image.   It’s simple yet sophisticated.  Her eyes are engaged with the camera, her left hand is elegantly resting on her shoulder, her right hand on her hip, and her knee is slightly bent.  All of these small details combined really help bring the image together as a whole.
  3. The colors & atmosphere: The Colors in this image have a “Vintage” feel to them which seems to be very popular in photography today and makes it appealing to a modern audience.  Another small element in this photo that is pleasing to the eye is the fact that the clothes the model is wearing compliments the rest of the image and it’s Colors.
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The Challenge

This week, Angela and I attempted a fashion/beauty photo shoot using our friends Alli and Alex as the models.  While doing this shoot, we kept Raul and Sarah’s images and style in mind and tried to incorporate those influences into the shots.

Jenna’s Results:

After attempting this photo shoot, I realized that in order to shoot fashion photography, you definitely need an eye for it.  I found that I didn’t have an eye for fashion and I was focusing more on Alli’s Face rather than the clothes she was wearing.  Last but not least, I realized that it’s hard for me to direct a model when it comes to fashion.  When I’m shooting Conceptual Photography, I know exactly what I want my models (or me) to do in each shoot so it’s easier to direct them.  With fashion photography, I wasn’t as familiar with poses and I found that I prefer to talk to my models and make them feel comfortable in front of the camera with natural smiles and expressions rather than posing them.

The first two images displayed below are from my first night of shooting during sunset.  With these images, I had Raul’s work in mind with a sophisticated look to them as well as beautiful colors and lighting.  The last image was inspired by Sarah’s work.  I tried to give it a dreamy look by taking it at night with the city’s bokeh in the Background, not completely focusing the camera, and by Alli having a soft and natural expression on her Face.

I knew from the beginning of this shoot that fashion photography isn’t meant for me, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything.  I learned that you have to go into the shoot with poses in mind, a concept, and how you want the image lit.  I’m sure with some time and practice I can improve my skills in posing and fashion/beauty photography in general.  But, for now, I’ll keep looking at work from the masters of fashion photography and soak up as many images and Inspiration as I can but most of all,  I’m going to keep trying.

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Angela’s Results: 

Although a conversation between Jenna and I is what inspired this article, I’m not completely into fashion photography myself. I found myself never really “getting” it, and not until my second year of college did I really find myself drawn to it.

I have not once shot fashion photography, so this was quite the Stretch of what I’m used to doing. My work is almost always very conceptual, so I feel as if these photos fit better under conceptual, then they do fashion.

While shooting the first photo of my friend Alex in the lake by the beach, all I was thinking of was Sarah Moon’s photos and how she describes them as “dreamy, surreal, and somewhat mysterious”. I think that I was taking those three words – dreamy, surreal, and mysterious — more serious then I was taking the word fashion.

In terms of doing a fashion shoot, I believe these aren’t entirely successful shots. In terms of doing a photo shoot that I like, I feel they’re very successful.

The second shot is my friend Alex behind layers and layers of leaves, with Shadows projecting onto his Body. I was thinking about Raul’s work while shooting this. I’m not as happy with this shot as much as I am with the other, but it is certainly inspired by the work of Raul.

After adding 150 inspirational photographers over the past few weeks, I definitely have lots of Inspiration to go off if I ever plan on shooting fashion again.

In all honesty, I feel I have a lot more research, experimenting, and playing around in Photoshop to do until I get anywhere near creating a great fashion image. It’s a start!

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Your Challenge

Take a look at the photographers featured in this week’s article and see if any of their work inspires you.  If it does, go out and take some pictures and post them in the comments, we would love to see them!

Angela and Jenna will pick their favorite image and the person who submitted it will WIN a Phlearn PRO of their choice!  The Winners will be announced in next week’s article on Wednesday, have your images submitted in the comments by Tuesday the 26th by noon CST. If you would like them to be eligible for the contest. Good luck!