How To Get Into Vintage Fashion Photography

If you are a photographer inspired by all things antique, then you may be wondering how to get into vintage fashion photography. The subjects in vintage fashion photography portraits are often set up to look like movie stars or pin-up girls. These dramatic photos involve more than just pointing and clicking the camera. 

To get into vintage fashion photography, you will need;

  • Studio, or room that can be set up like a studio.
  • Camera with filters
  • Lighting with stands 
  • Vintage accessories
  1. Place a strong, undiffused key light that can shine from a high angle. It is important that the key light can shine directly done on the subject since a common factor in vintage fashion photography is a butterfly shaped shadow under the nose.
  2. Set up two fill lights that will shine on the model. These help to diminish any harsh shadows. Fill lights are not as bright as the key light so they won't remove the contrast completely. One light is place above the camera and another is placed below the camera, on one side of the model.
  3. Add a backlight between the model and the background. This will help separate the models body from the background.
  4. DIffuse all the lights. Vintage fashion photography has a mysterious air to it that can be achieved with semi-transparent filters, mesh, lace, nylon. You want a soft look to your photos.  This is referred to as Vaseline lighting.
  5. Learn to pose the model. When you get into vintage fashion photography, the models rarely look directly into the camera. Dramatic, unnatural poses are common. Have them look up and to the side, or give a longing expression. Hands can be posed up by the face or have the body curved or reclining. Avoid standard poses and straight lines.
  6. Consider shooting in black and white, although it isn't necessary.  Be sure the hair style reflects the style of the particular time period you are working in. Lips and eyes are generally highlighted and help in creating an authentic picture. 
  7. Use props such as vintage cars, old buildings and bicycles in your photos. Few items are needed in vintage fashion photography if the above tips are followed.
  8. Try using photoshop to further emphasize aspects of your photo. Backgrounds can be replaced or enhanced with the help of computer photo editing tools.
  9. Market the photos by creating postcards of your best work. Advertising as a vintage fashion photography can include donating a photography session to charitable events to get the word out as well as handing postcards to all your contacts. Sell as stock photography or shoot wedding parties and roller derby teams in glamorous shots.  
  10. Team up with antique, thrift or vintage boutique shops. Working on their advertising, can bring you more business. 
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