Photographer Showcase: Sarah Shen

All photographs by Sarah Shen ( @sarahshenphoto )

All photographs by Sarah Shen (@sarahshenphoto)

In light of our semesterly Fashion Shoot, we had our club’s very own Marketing Director, Sarah Shen, come in and speak to us about her experiences with fashion photography. Within the past three years, she has worked with modeling agencies around Los Angeles and her editorials have been published in magazines internationally. If you missed this talk - we got you covered! Check here for the slides and keep reading for the major highlights from the Showcase.


She ran through her entire shoot process, beginning with the planning phase. In this part, she builds the concept that will serve as the overarching theme of the photoshoot. She recommends creating a moodboard, which allows you to build a team and select a location based on the central idea. This ensures that all team members are on the same page and it will help better articulate your creative vision.

See some of her moodboards here.


The next phase is making the shoot actually happen. Sarah's number one piece of advice is to make sure that your model is comfortable. Regardless of how experienced a model is, if he/she is uncomfortable, the images will reflect that. Create a good relationship between you and the subject by maintaining a balance between fun and professional. Make sure to provide guidance with posing and provide positive reinforcement. Furthermore, always show the model the photos. This will help him/her understand how they can improve moving forward.

There are a lot of ideas that go through a photographer’s mind while shooting: composition, lighting, color, etc. It’s important to keep these baseline concepts in mind to help create interesting images, but do not always let the rules dictate your shoot. Don’t be afraid to break some rules and get creative!




For editing, Sarah uses a combination of both Lightroom and Photoshop. She uses Lightroom to cull through her images and synchronize her edits within a set and then takes the image into Photoshop for deeper retouching. At the Showcase, she demonstrated advanced techniques involving frequency separation, shadow/highlights, and layer masks. She recommends working on different layers and at lower opacities to ensure that the edits are subtle and don’t look fake.


To close her presentation, she offered the following pieces of advice:

  • Get funky: be as creative as you possibly can and have fun with what you make.
  • Break some rules: rules exist to guide you, but you don’t have to let them dictate everything you do. Test the boundaries of the rules to find your own style.
  • Take on opportunities for free when starting out: you never know what kind of relationship will grow from working with people.
  • Be safe and smart about who you meet up with: be careful, the internet isn’t always honest.
  • Don’t be afraid to say no: if you feel like you won’t grow from working with someone, don’t feel obligated to work with them. Your time is valuable, so know your worth.
  • Do something that sets you apart from the rest: there’s an oversaturation of photographers due to social media and the accessibility of cameras, so it’s increasingly important to find your own style in the midst of that.

If you’re interested in seeing more of Sarah’s work, feel free to check the following links:



Editing Playlist:


USC PhotoComment