As your fashion photography career progresses, you might find yourself working with stylists. These are talented people and you should make the most of their expertise.
As the photographer it’s important to work with your stylist every step of the way, and talk through clothing options before and on the day of the shoot to make sure your concept is clear and you have a good idea of how everything is going to work.
A good stylist needs to have a talented eye to choose the right clothes for a photoshoot, know how to fit them, and work confidently and happily alongside the rest of the creative team on the day of the shoot. If the clothes don’t work for the intended theme, the photos are unlikely to work either. When choosing your stylist you want to be sure they’re right for the job. For example, a commercial stylist won’t be right for a high-fashion creative shoot, and vice versa.
If you’re just starting out, it’s worth styling your own test shoots. This will give you firsthand experience as a stylist and will help you to understand what styles work in which scenarios.
You might find that styling your shoots yourself is something that you practise for quite some time, especially if it means that you ensure your styling fits with your vision. Search for clothes in charity or thrift stores or even on eBay; look for specific garments to go along with the themes that you want to shoot.
Wardrobe for ‘The Fold 2011 Lookbook’ shoot—a good stylist will organize the looks at the start of the day and walk you through them so you have a plan of outfits. NY campaign for The Fold clothing.
Photo: Kait Robinson
If you don’t have the option of using a stylist, say for a test shoot, then encourage the models to bring their own clothes. Give them some reference points and themes before the shoot and ask them if they have any clothes in that specific genre. Don’t leave it down to the last minute, however—it will be easier for you and the models if you plan ahead.
On most professional photoshoots (unless there is an art director or somebody controlling the styling), you as the photographer are responsible for overseeing how the stylist is working. It is good practice to be with him or her every step of the way—from handing over a brief, ensuring visual references are being sent back and forth, and even meeting to pull the clothes and to make a plan of how they’re going to be shot.
A changing area should always be available on-set, especially when working in public places. Think about taking oversized blankets/clothes or put together a makeshift changing area (like this beach hut entrance) for your model to get changed in. Material Girl shoot, London 2011.
Photo: Oscar May
It’s impossible to be too prepared. The greater the understanding between the photographer and the stylist, the better the shoot will go.
Savannah Wyatt, Stylist and Costume Designer, New York City comments:
The styling input to a shoot is very important because I’m helping create a world of characters with the photographer. I work alongside Lara on photoshoots, and also with her on her ideas sometimes even several weeks before the given shoot date. Fashion photography needs to be a team effort from all sides, and both the stylist and photographer have to come together in agreement to negotiate their favourite looks.
If you’ve dreamed of working in the fashion photo industry or simply want to learn how to shoot edgy, fun fashion photos, Lara Jade’s Fashion Photography 101 is full of technical advice to improve your images, as well as practical, insider information on how to contact models, build your portfolio, and navigate the challenges involved in dealing with agencies.
Lara Jade Fashion Photography 101
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