Southern Methodist University student Kellie Spano never imagined she’d be producing and directing an entire fashion photo shoot, let alone photographing fashion models. Yet that is exactly what she found herself doing for the past three months.
Spano is part of the new Fashion Photography class, which gives students real-world experience with the various aspects of the fashion photography industry.
“The whole class is pretty great. My favorite part of the class is probably just the shooting — taking photographs,” she says.
For SMU Fashion Media minors, Fashion Photography is one of the three courses they can choose – along with Fashion Journalism and Fashion Public Relations & Promotions – to satisfy the degree’s capstone requirement. According to the Meadows website, the year-old minor is designed for students who wish to incorporate an interest in fashion into their major coursework.
The course, which was offered for the first time this semester, has been popular with both Fashion Media students and art or photography students with an interest in fashion, says course instructor Misty Keasler.
Keasler runs her own Dallas-based photo studio when she’s not teaching class. She believes photography is a crucial element of the fashion world because that is how most of us learn about fashion – through images. Only a select few individuals have the opportunity to attend Fashion Week in New York or Paris each year. Most of us check out the new looks online or in our favorite magazines.
Fashion Photography is an advanced photography course so students should have an understanding of the camera prior to taking the class. And as a capstone, the course is very hands-on. Students work independently on four assignments during the semester.
“So much of fashion photography is about creating fantasy, creating a world,” Keasler says. “So, the students are really on a trajectory from the very beginning of the course to create two shoots toward the end of the semester where they are fully producing the shoots.”
SMU junior and Fashion Media minor Julie Smith chose the Fashion Photography course in order to fulfill her capstone requirement. Having completed the Introduction to Photography course last semester, Smith wanted to continue developing her photography skills and the Fashion Photography course seemed like a unique opportunity.
“There’s not another course like it,” Smith says. “It was such a different class than any sort of classes at SMU.”
Although Spano is partial to documentary photography, the Studio Art major decided to take the Fashion Photography course because it was out of her element. She thought the course would be a great opportunity to broaden her horizons in the medium.
“Fashion photography is very glamorous and like going to a different world and making someone believe something that isn’t necessarily real,” Spano says. “That interested me because I had never done it before.”
Aside from the three-hour course
commitment, students should be prepared to devote a lot of time and effort toward shooting assignments outside of class.“It feels like you’re interning, not like you’re in a class,” Smith says.
The course covers various aspects of working in fashion photography, including styling a shoot, building a concept, hair and makeup, working with an art director and production. Students learn the basics of shooting outside with natural and supplemental light as well as studio lighting.
Throughout the semester various guest speakers, ranging from art directors to stylists, come and talk to the class about different aspects of the fashion world, Smith says.
“You see all parts of the industry, not just fashion photography.”