While it's true that the most revered people in fashion photography, past and present, were considered artists as much as photographers, fashion photography isn't as glamorous a career as you might think.
Fashion photography is a difficult career to break into. That's not to say it can't be done, but photography in general attracts more interested candidates than there are openings, which makes it a very competitive industry. Fashion photography differs from photojournalism in that a fashion photographer works on a carefully constructed set that is almost fictional in design. The fashion photographer also shoots pictures of fashion shows.
As a career, fashion photography may be more stable than other forms of photography since most fashion photographers work regularly with certain advertising agencies and media outlets. Still, over half of all photographers are actually self-employed.
To break into fashion photography, a person needs not only a good eye for detail and visual composition, but also a thorough understanding of the working mechanics of a camera and the effects the environment has on a picture. Usually, a degree in photography is necessary as well.
Fashion photography has changed over the years, but past artists, such as Irving Penn, will be studied closely by an aspiring fashion photographer. Assignments might take the photographer anywhere in the world and schedules can be hectic at times. Fashion photographers do not work alone, but rather with a group of people who help to set the stage. Typically, an advertising agency, modeling agency, and the design studio will all be part of the whole job. The average median income for a fashion photographer ranges from $32,000 to over $53,000 a year.