Glamour Photography Basics: 6 Tips to Take Stunning Photos

glamour photography

From old-fashioned pinup to modern studio photography, glamour photography is back in fashion. Whether for an advertising campaign or a personal portfolio, being able to shoot glamour photos can help you expand your photographic career.

There’s far more to glamour photography than just lighting and poses. In this guide, we’ll share six tips to help you choose good locations, pick great outfits and makeup styles for your models and take amazing glamour photographs.

To put these tips into action, you’ll need to understand the basics of exposure and composition for digital photography. Join The Fundamentals of Photography for a detailed lesson in the basics of exposure, composition and photographic lighting.

Teach your model the basic modeling poses


Before you start worrying about lighting or locations, it’s important to teach your model the basic poses of glamour modeling. With professional models, you’ll have little to worry about, but many amateurs may not know even basic poses.

While there’s no need to memorize hundreds of complicated poses, make sure you  and the model understand the basic poses that your shoot will revolve around. The type of shoot and location will determine which poses work and which don’t.

Don’t know which poses to start with? This list of 21 modeling poses is a great place to start. Pick about five poses to focus on and try to work your day down the list as you shoot.

While lighting and composition play a huge role in determining the outcome of your shoot, your interactions with the model matter far more. Help them strike the right pose during the shoot by providing useful feedback and guidance.

Do you need tips on working with amateur and professional models to get the best results for your glamour photography? Learn how to take magazine quality photos in our Secrets of Magazine Model Photography course.

Learn the basics of lighting for glamour photography

glamour photography

Lighting plays a huge role in the look and feel of your photography. The wrong type of lighting for your location can turn an otherwise upbeat and playful collection into a moody, bleak and washed out set of photos.

Likewise, lighting that’s too soft and basic can take away the emotion in a dark or shadowy environment. Learning how to light your photo shoot well will help you and the model achieve the look you’re aiming for in your finished photos.

There are many different lighting arrangements for glamour photography, ranging from the simple and minimal to setups involving several lights, reflectors and white background materials.

Have you never set up lighting equipment before? Learn the basics of lighting your photography environment for the right look and feel withDigital Photography: Introduction to Lighting.

Pick unique, dynamic and interesting locations

glamour photography

The right location can add as much visual appeal to your glamour photography as your skill as a photographer. Because of this, it’s important to learn how to choose locations that suit your photographic style, your theme and your model.

From grungy and industrial areas to classic pinup environments, the setting you’re shooting in will have a huge impact on your photos. Mix the wrong clothes, makeup and lighting to the wrong setting and you’ll seriously compromise your photos.

When you choose a location, you have to consider more than just its look – if it’s an outdoor location, you also have to be aware of light sources. In some cases, you may need to bring your own lighting to complement that offered by the location.

Have you never shot outside a studio before? Learn how to prepare for the location and bring the right equipment to capture the model at their very best in our course, Fashion and Glamour Photography.

Make sure clothing, makeup and location match

Professional Makeup

Every aspect of glamour photography should complement another. From outfits to locations, make sure that all of the visual aspects of your photo shoot – things like makeup artistry, clothing and color schemes – are in sync with each other.

Some aspects of choosing complementary elements are obvious – for example, even a novice photographer knows that pinup-style clothing and dark, industrial settings don’t match. Others are more subtle and can require an expert’s opinion.

Makeup is one of the most frequently neglected aspects of glamour photography. A lot of models end up managing their own makeup during amateur shoots without a professional makeup artist on location.

This can result in subpar photos, especially if makeup is an important part of your visual theme. To learn more about the importance of a makeup artist in your photo shoot, read our blog post on makeup designs and inspiration.

Learn how to use natural light to your advantage

A relaxed sexy young brunette woman or girl wearing a bikini sit

You don’t always need artificial lighting for glamour photography. Many of the best calendar and catalog photos are shot without any natural light, especially if natural environments factor into the shoot’s visual style.

By selecting the right location, time of day and camera settings (not to mention the right lens) for the shoot, you can turn your lack of lighting equipment into a serious advantage that produces unique, interesting images.

Do you want to learn how to shoot glamour photography with minimal lighting and reflector equipment? Learn how to use natural light to create beautiful photos in our Natural Light Fashion and Beauty Photography course.

Practice the art of subtle editing in Photoshop

Side view of a casual male photo editor using graphics tablet in

Almost all of the photos you take during a glamour photography shoot will need to be edited before being published or added to a portfolio, either to fix exposure and color issues or simply to remove skin blemishes.

The key to retouching photos is to do as little as possible in order to achieve your desired look. Too much airbrushing and editing is obvious, even to the untrained eye of the average magazine reader or calendar viewer.

Keep any Photoshop editing – beyond the standard exposure, color and levels fixes – to a minimum. Focus on removing typical skin blemishes and lighting issues, and not on completely transforming the look of your model.

Have you never used Photoshop for image retouching before? Learn how to fix your exposure, color and levels in Photoshop and perform basic retouching to fix skin and body issues in our Adobe Photoshop for Photographers course.