Street Fashion Photography Tips

Shooting five to ten street fashion brands a day in a three to four hour window is a tough call for any experienced photographer. Professional photographer Nick Fancher does this day in day out and shares with us, some of the ways he maximizes his shooting efficiency, using a lightweight kit and his own lighting creativity in this tutorial video:

The first brand Nick tackles is Entrée, a street brand. Working on a derelict lot with harsh light, Nick is looking for a stylized look to emphasize the street look of the clothes. His setup:

street fashion lighting setup

Lighting setup to emphasize the street look

  • Three radio controlled flashes together on one stand, with the output set manually to half power.
  • The flashguns focus length was each set to 105mm to get a more direct light.
  • With the Canon’s high speed sync he was able to use a very high shutter speed of 1/5000 of a second allowing him to darken the background creating a gritty, urban look and punching out the colors in the models clothes.
  • By positioning the flashlights directly towards the sun, Nick was able to use the sun itself as a keylight and because of the high shutter speed he could use a wide aperture to throw the background out of focus.

The second brand Nick tackled was Saucony, a more sports oriented brand. Shooting their sports shoes required a clean look that was helped by a good sunny day. His techniques for this were:

shoe fashion light setup

Lighting setup to achieve a clean look

  • Shooting on a basketball court he was able to use the sunlight passing through a chain-link fence, to provide a creative shadow pattern as a background.
  • To emphasize the clean look he goes for a deep depth of field using an aperture of f11.
  • The shoes are rimlit from either side using radio-controlled flashlights, again set to 105mm, to tunnel the light towards the subject.
  • A third flashgun is used more or less in front of the shoes. This flash is zoomed out to around 24mm to provide a softer fill in light. The sunlight from the rear provides the keylight.

In his third shoot, Nick is tasked to photograph Palladium shoes and requires an urban look. Shooting from a rooftop, Nick uses the cityscape as a backdrop but uses a mid range aperture to soften the background and keep the emphasis on the shoes. To achieve the required look:

urban shoe lighting setup

Configuration of lighting for urban shoes

  • He rimlights the shoes from either side using flashlights set to 105mm.
  • To fill in he fires a third flash from directly above the shoes with a setting of 24mm and set manually to ¼ power.

For Palladium, he is again on a rooftop, but has two models, both of whom need to be individually lit. This time he uses just two flashes:

two model camera flash setup

Lighting two models in one shot

  • The rear model is lit from one side with a flash set to 105mm.
  • The front model is lit from the opposite side with the flash set to 24mm to soften its effect.
  • Using a mid range aperture, he has kept both models in focus but thrown the background out slightly.

The last shoot for Howler Brothers is shot simply with one on-camera flash:

single flash on camera

Simple on-camera flash to fill shadows

  • Dialed again to 105mm the flash punches a nice direct light onto the model with enough power to stop the aperture down, punch out the skies and saturate the colors.

In this second video we again follow fashion photographer, Nick Fancher as he packs in several locations to a four-hour shoot. One of the key aspects of lifestyle fashion photography is finding the right locations, Nick has a wide selection that he uses on a regular basis but is always on the look out for something new and fresh:

He starts his day this time with a shoot for Levi’s. Using a location as a simple as a downtown parking lot, Nick manages to find numerous interesting places to create an interesting, urban backdrop. For this shoot he uses available light at first, but to add a more dramatic look he:

dramatic light street portrait

Dramatic light street portrait setup

  • Uses a cluster of three flashguns mounted on one stand, triggered wirelessly.
  • The flashguns were raised above the model and to the side with a medium output to prevent the flashlight overpowering the ambient light.
  • As a secondary style Nick reverts to a direct camera mounted flash, which combined with a gritty background has created a more “street” look to the images.
single flash with gritty background

Single on-camera flash with gritty background

The second brand of the day was a more contemporary, high fashion style. Nick utilizes the parking lot again but this time from the top floor, where the city skyline provides a modern, urban background to the images:

contemporary style flash setup

Lighting setup for contemporary style

  • Using a cluster of four flashes controlled from a camera mounted wireless unit, Nick uses high speed sync to give a wide aperture of f1.8, throwing the background out of focus with a dark and moody feel
  • As before the flashguns are manually set to a focal length of 105mm and a ¼ power.
  • He highlights the model using low sun as an auxiliary rim light.

Using the same location Nick’s next shoot is of a limited edition Reebok sports shoe. To emphasis the color:

photo setup with emphasis on color

Configuration of lights to emphasize color

  • Nick has lit the shoes from either side using flash and combined the grey tones of the city skyline with a backlighting sun to punch out the color in the shoes.
  • By closing down the aperture, he has darkened the background.

Palladium manufacture, military style shoes and for this shoot Nick uses the model to showcase the shoes:

military shoe style light

Shot setup to showcase military style shoes

  • He uses the sun as a back-light.
  • Then uses two flashguns positioned in front and above the shoes and carefully maneuvered the camera to create an interesting lens flare in the background.
  • The flashes were set to 24mm to soften the front light effect.

For the final shoot of the day, Nick uses a newly built suspension bridge as a location and shoots purely with the available light from the already low sun.

So in summary, to get professional looking, street fashion images in a short time frame travel light, consider using two or three wireless controlled flashguns for flexible lighting setups. Adapt to the scene and let available light do some of the work for you. If you can, scout out great locations before you shoot, perhaps doing some test shots with a compact camera. This will allow you to concentrate your time on the actual shoot when the time comes.

For Further Training on Using Light Effectively:

These are the best books I have found; they contain extremely valuable information designed to help you learn and master the complicated art of flash photography.

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6 responses to “Street Fashion Photography Tips”

  1. bycostello says:

    great tutorial, great to see lighting diagrams

  2. Great work. I use up to five flash units and am always paranoid about getting odd-looking shadows and weird keylight effects. Nick seems to have got the multiflash sorted out. Good instruction. Thanks.

  3. khushi solanki, pune india says:

    wow nick,fantastic video and the beauty if the video is that u have given even the made my life a lot easy to understand your vision and creativity.
    keep it up

  4. Mary says:

    thank. you.
    this is one of the BEST tutorials I seen using off camera flash

  5. Cleiton S S says:

    Ótimo trabalho. Aprendi muito com esse tutorial. Obrigado.

  6. Great videos!!! Thanks for sharing them. I’m amazed with the level of details the shown photos have. This is the main thing I’m working on right now. I noticed that Mick uses F/8.. I assume, this and plenty of light are the main secrets. Am I right?

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