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Fashion Photography: Eyes Tell a Story


Hi Jeff! Could you give us a little introduction about yourself and your journey to becoming a fashion photographer?

Of course! My name is Jeff Chang, and I am a fashion photographer with 7-8 years of experience. My love for photography started when I was at Temasek Polytechnic where I got the chance to learn about film photography and experience working in a dark room. I still remember that my first digital camera and lens were the Canon EOS 5D with Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L.

My interest in fashion started when I began to notice and be inspired by what others would wear based on their day-to-day activities. It was interesting to see how people presented themselves through fashion and clothing.

Like many other up-and-coming photographers, I took the traditional route of assisting different photographers to gain knowledge and develop skills in lighting, communicating with models, and photographing clothing.


EOS 5D Mark IV, EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, f/11, ISO 320, 1/6s, 50mm 

What is important in a fashion photo?

In my opinion, it’s the emotions portrayed through the model's eye. Whenever I look at a fashion photo, I will always seek out the gaze before anything else. I believe that it speaks to the moment the picture was taken and conveys the storyline.

For a photo to be cover-ready, the clothing or makeup must be represented well in the image. The expression, gaze and pose from the model must be on point, and the photographer must set up the best possible lighting to accurately portray the mood.

Check out how you can shoot macro portraits that tell a story here!


EOS 5D Mark IV, EF70-200mm f/2.8L II USM, f/11, ISO 640, 1/40s, 125mm

Among all your work, which is the most experimental?

There was a time when I wanted to do a test shoot for a ‘powdered’ makeup look. As usual, I discussed my concept with my hair and makeup artists, and we were extremely excited about it.

On the shoot day itself, I experimented with the placement and intensity of neon lights, flashes, LED and UV light. As we only had one chance to capture the shot, everyone on the team became very focused and motivated to do their best to achieve the mutual goal.

I got the inspiration after dreaming about something related to the galaxy.


EOS 5D Mark IV, EF70-200mm f/2.8L II USM, f/8, ISO 640, 1/160s, 142mm 

What Canon equipment do you utilise?

I have used all the Canon EOS 5D series because I love their image processors when it comes to the colour science of Canon and the depth of the colours in the sensors. The colours are well-presented in the output shots and it greatly reduces my post process workflow as I do not have to spend a lot of time on colour adjustments or corrections. For bigger file output I will go for my Canon EOS 5DS R. For lenses, I am a fan of the Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM due to its versatility. I also have a Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM and Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM.

The Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM is my go-to lens for fashion shoots as it is versatile enough for anything from sceneries to portraitures. I will also use the Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM to shoot documentary-style photos or to isolate my models from the background. It creates a much deeper depth so my models will separate from the backdrop, allowing my models to ‘pop’ out from the background. I use the Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM for quirky fashion spreads for composition and framing versatility. It also allows me to create very dramatic fashion imagery due to the wide angle.


EOS 5D Mark IV, EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, f/5.6, ISO 1000, 1/160s, 55mm 

You do a lot of studio work. What is an important tip you would give to a new photographer also working in a studio space?

When it comes to studio work, making the whole environment comfortable for the model and the team is 50% of the job done. As much as they are here to finish a job, they should also enjoy the process and feel at home throughout. It also makes the photoshoot session more relaxing; people work better that way.


EOS 5D Mark IV, EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM, f/5, ISO 1600, 1/125s, 61mm 

What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started photographing?

At the start, I shot everything at f/16 because I wanted all images to be sharp and focused. Then, I realised that rigidity came with its cons as I was restricting myself from experimenting with depth of field, bokeh, composition and setups. I would advise new photographers to be flexible with the settings in their camera and experiment as they go along. After all, there are countless ways one can photograph a scene.


How do you deal with clients who may not share the same vision for the commissioned work?

First of all, I would speak to my clients and align with them on the expectations and outcomes of the photoshoot. This would include sharing what they need from me and what they hope will be achieved during the photoshoot.

I would also ask for visual references of the shoot before proposing my own. The prep work for a fashion photoshoot should be all-rounded and must include:

  • Hair and makeup references
  • Talent choices
  • Styling ideas
  • Pose references
  • Background or setup references
  • The mood and vibe agreed by both the client and photographer

I have always believed that everything will go smoothly once I know what my client wants and how they view things in their perspective. By standing in their shoes, I can understand them better, allowing me to provide more relevant advice to gain trust and assurance from the client.

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