Conceptual Fashion Photography: Hazards of the Perfection Paradigm

In this fashion photography class you’ll learn everything that went into the creation of Karl’s conceptual fashion image “The hazards of the perfection paradigm”, a 1960s inspired fashion image that explores the idea of people striving for perfection to fulfil someone else’s wishes.

This class is divided into three distinct sections: the planning, the shoot, and an overview of the post-production.

In the first section you’ll see the detailed planning that made this image possible, including concept creation, model casting, prop sourcing, and outfit selection. Each of these are key to a successful fashion shoot, and Karl explains where the props were sourced, why certain creative decisions were taken, and how it all came together to create the final image.

Next, you’ll see the lighting and setup for the final image. To create the final image Karl used a two-light setup that he balanced with the ambient daylight to create the punchy end result. You’ll also see the safety precautions that were taken to ensure the model’s safety throughout the shoot.

Finally, this class includes an overview of the post-production that was used to create the final image. Due to safety considerations, certain elements of the image had to be shot separately, which Karl discusses in detail.

In this class you will learn:

  • How to photograph conceptual fashion images
  • Planning for fashion shoots
  • Outfit selection and prop sources
  • Lighting setups for location fashion shoots
  • Freezing motion using flash
  • How to safely work with models on location

If you enjoyed this class, you may also enjoy some of our other fashion photography classes, including Photographing a model in motion – Falling girl and Photographing a model in action: Ascension shoot.

If you have any questions about this shoot please post in the comment section below.

Planning is a big part of fashion photography. A successful shoot requires a team effort to bring together the styling, hair, makeup, lighting etc.

Planning for a fashion shoot

A lot of planning was required before we could start shooting.

This shoot involved weeks of pre-planning, with many of the props and outfits quite difficult to source due to the specific style required. We sourced everything we needed from online stores such as Etsy and local charity stores.

It was the little details that really helped make this shot and we made sure that every item included had an authentic feel. As you’ll see in the video, everything from the garden shears to the hair had to match the 1960s style needed for the shot.

Important details for fashion shoots

Attention to detail was needed to ensure all the props and styling worked.

In the end the result was worth it, but a shot like this wouldn’t have been possible without pre-planning, attention to detail and teamwork.

Conceptual fashion photography example

The Hazards of the Perfection Paradigm


  1. Hi Karl and team,
    Great tutorial and a superb result!
    Could you please tell me more about the camera settings to freeze the movement.
    And did you used a ND-filter?
    Thanks Michael

    1. Hi Mike, the shutter speed would have been in the higher end to reduce the amount of daylight but most of the ‘freezing’ is done by the flash which has a fast flash duration – see this chapter the shutter speed in this case was 1/800th of a second but please watch the class I’ve linked to understand the difference between shutter speed and flash doing the freezing.

      1. Thank you Karl for your reply, but I thought the ambient light will influence the exposure. And at 1/800th I expected a little bit of motion blur at your model caused by the available light from the sun, although you reduced the amount of daylight with your camera settings. I would understand the freezing motion in a studio with no ambient light or outdoor shooting ag night.
        Thanks for a reply.

        1. Hi Mike, If we zoomed in on the closest details of the models dress at the edge and on the legs there is the smallest amount of motion blur but the daylight here is reduced about 1 stop below it’s ‘correct’ exposure and the flash exposure on the model is at the ‘correct’ exposure to help her pop out of the frame. Because she’s against a darker background the pop of the flash does most of the freezing and the 1/800th was fast enough to ensure any ambient light blur was minimal. It is possible to take the shutter speed up to 1/2000th on this camera and still sync with flash because of the leaf shutter design in the lens but then I would have lost a stop too much or had to increase the ISO another stop and I felt the results looking on screen were acceptable. I also applied similar techniques on fashion shots in Iceland, the backgrounds were mostly darker there so the technique worked. It does however depend on the amount of motion relative to the image. Essentially it’s how much distance of motion there is across the image rectangle that counts in terms of what is perceivable or could become a problem.

  2. I really enjoyed that tutorial. At first, I was thinking you were going to talk about lighting the model as she fell off a ladder carrying shears. That is, it hadn’t occurred to me she might not be carrying shears, the ladder wasn’t tilted, and she was falling off a different (stable) ladder. I put off watching this at first because the lighting looked straightforward. Now, I’m glad I saw it because it has opened my imagination to a few possibilities.

  3. jmhedrick

    This came at the perfect time for me and my portraiture business. Preparation IS so essential for everything to converge on shoot day. Always eternally grateful for this space you and your amazing team have made, Karl. Cheers!

  4. EthanDavis

    I really enjoy seeing the build up to images being created, people often think it’s just lighting and camera knowledge but seem to ignore the 10hour+ build-up before you even shoot! So I appreciate you taking the time to put that together.

    A very unique image too! Well done Karl and the team.

    1. Thanks Ethan, we thought it was definitely showing the BTS build up to the shot, research, planning, it all goes a long way and as you say many people don’t realise the amount of time needed in those areas to ensure success. It’s a little bit like the Live ‘Natural Decay’ show; so much went into the planning and research to make the shut work.

Leave a Comment