How to Shoot Fashion Photography with the Leica SL2-S

Conformity is boring. I embrace leaning into what makes you tick, especially if that means living outside of that proverbial box. This was a mantra that I believed wholeheartedly to the point that I almost flunked out of art school for refusing to conform. I think that’s why I love fashion photography so much. It’s all about finding your own voice, embracing the unconventional, and reaching for the stars. Combining beautiful clothing with the capabilities of the Leica SL2-S makes breaking the rules all the more fun.

This blog post is presented by Leica. Everything was shot with the Leica SL2-S and the Leica 28mm f2 Summicron-SL APO Lens. If we did these, imagine what it can do for you. Check out the Leica SL2-S and Leica 28mm f2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH Lens at the Leica Camera store.

The look created by Leica brings the wow factor, a little Je ne sais quoi, if you will. The auto white balance of the SL2-S is ideal for almost every lighting scenario. The sensor size and resolution are large enough to capture full-body images and crop them down significantly with plenty of detail. This is paramount for marketing and ad campaigns. The colors produced by the auto white balance are beautiful and the dynamic range makes it difficult to completely mess up an image. This is a winning combination for creative photoshoots, especially if you are looking to progress and enhance your skills.

There is no right or wrong way to shoot fashion. Tack sharp, motion blur, weird angles, color pop, cool light, and unique locations are all encouraged. Although, there are ways of harnessing the Leica SL2-S to achieve the desired result more efficiently. I paired it with the Leica 28mm f2 SL lens to photograph the lovely Rachelle Kathleen. The wide-angle captured the beautiful fashion in the environment and inspired me to experiment with my angles and perspective for more artistic movements.

Below are a few tips to help you unleash your creativity.

My Favorite Fashion Settings On The Leica SL2-S

  • Highlight weighted metering in backlight using a monolight as fill 
  • Face/body detection
  • Children/pets and running autofocus profiles, depending on the speed of movement
  • Intelligent autofocus with more drastic movements at about 1/100th of a second for artistic movement and details where it counts
  • Full manual mode with no face/body detection and shutter speeds of 1/30th of a second or slower for intentional blur

Manipulate Natural Light

Opt for highlight-weighted metering when working in backlit scenarios to keep from clipping your highlights. Even though the dynamic range of the SL2-S is perfect if you need to bump your shadows, I prefer to utilize my monolight. A low-power setting gently adds fill light without it looking fake. This also significantly cuts down on editing time to get back out there shooting.

Maximize the potential of those fleeting moments of incredible light when the sun meets the horizon. Meter for the skin tone and take advantage of the exposure compensation to capture the pastel colors of the sky. If you accidentally underexpose, have no fear. The dynamic range of this sensor is very forgiving. Aperture priority is a winning contender when shooting outdoors in fast-changing lighting conditions. Pick your desired aperture and color mode and go. It’s very dependable.

Play With Motion

A single focusing point in AF-S mode is more than sufficient for slower static posing. Turn on the face/body detection for increased sharpness when the details of the clothing or skin matter. Be forewarned that it is really sharp for portrait images.

I prefer to use face/body detection for any movement where I want pivotal details to focus and useAF-S mode to lock focus as needed. The Children/pets autofocus profile is excellent for slower movements and capturing single images. I change the speed as the movements of my model become more dramatic. The Runner autofocus profile is advantageous, and you will rarely need more than that. You can also change it to AF-C mode and shoot continuously if you need it.

One of my favorite ways to capture motion with the Leica SL2-S is to switch to Intelligent autofocus. Pairing it with a slower shutter speed of about 1/100th of a second with face detection is wonderful. The model and focal details of the clothing are in focus, and the added movement of the garment is beautiful. It’s also a lot of fun.

I also enjoy capturing intentionally out-of-focus images with movement. Switch to manual focus and turn the face/body detection off. Choose shutter speeds around the likes of 1/30th of a second or longer. Clearly direct your model on how to move and at what pace to achieve your desired blurred result. I encourage you to also move slightly to keep the foreground or other details blurred. This is especially important if you are shooting in brighter light and need to stop down significantly.

Embrace The Color

Leica colors are notoriously renowned, and the SL2-S does not disappoint. Auto white balance is a machine and delivers accurate skin tones time and time again. Lean into the color of light, how it falls on your model, and embrace the beautiful organic tones. Capture the fluctuating warm and cool tones knowing that it will transfer in the raw file.

Switch over to vivid color mode for better tones in flatly lit environments or a lot of pop when the garments call for it. Want even more color? Choose the auto curve for the ICC profile in Capture One and marvel at the candy tones.

Additional Images

The Leica SL2-S is a fast-performing camera that can keep pace with the demands of fashion photography on location. The various AF modes and profiles make the camera fun to tap into your inner artist and feed the soul with a creative shoot. It also makes it versatile and dependable to deliver impressive imagery to your clients when the pressure is on. The colors are incredible to work with and improve your overall image quality while decreasing your post-production time. It also takes the stress out of shooting on location. This brings the fun factor, and I find myself looking forward with anticipation to my next shoot.

This blog post is presented by Leica. Everything was shot with the Leica SL2-S and the Leica 28mm f2 Summicron-SL APO Lens. If we did these, imagine what it can do for you. Check out the Leica SL2-S and Leica 28mm f2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH Lens at the Leica Camera store.

Brittany Smith

Brittany is a commercial fashion and portrait photographer working in Montana and NYC. When not behind a camera she can usually be found at a local artisan coffeeshop, writing for photography education sites and publications, teaching fitness classes, or baking something fabulous.