THIS IS STORY OF MY LIFE: I see a photo on the Internet, get inspired, get an idea and start looking for people who can help make my thoughts come alive. This is how 70% of my shoots begin.
Over the past couple of years, working on various projects and on The Lokal Magazine, I have gained a lot of experience. One day I realized it is finally time to share it with the world, so I hope you find this useful.
MOST OF MY PROJECTS ARE BORN on the global network and more often on Pinterest. I stumble upon an inspiring photo, and a process begins in my brain that I can not turn off. I immediately imagine hundreds of different frames, sometimes videos, that I can bring to life. Have you heard this expression, steal like an artist? I think it is totally fine to look for inspiration in the work of other creators. I am not talking about plagiarizing someone’s ideas, of course. Steal like an artist means to be inspired by someone else’s work and create your own.
dress by Victoria Hayes | shoes by BCBG Max Azria
THE NEXT STEP IS the creation of a mood board. Yes, here we go again. Pinterest is just indispensable for this purpose. We submit all possible options into the search box that are related to pictures in your head. My mood board for our shoot looked like this.
Absolutely the same situation with stylists and makeup artists. Do you know what I did? I just threw a cry posted an ask on my Instagram with examples from the mood board. And I got a message from Dasha. She said that she is ready to fly from New York to Chicago! She just needs to find cheap tickets and accommodation. I invited her to stay at my apartment. As a bonus, Dasha flew in with her stylist friend, Stefania, who has long wanted to visit Chicago.
Stefania offered her help and brought with her half a suitcase of clothes for the photo session! I could not even dream of such a turn of events! According to the plan, I was also going to purchase an affordable dress. I still can not believe my happiness. Just do not be afraid to ask! The key to success is collaboration.
THE THIRD STEP IS is to assemble a team and to find a location of the shoot. This process always takes a different amount of time. For example, I was ready to shoot this project back in August of last year, but we could not make it work with the photographer, and then fall came to Chicago. This time, and more specifically in the summer of 2018, the stars came together perfectly. I wrote to my photographer friend asking if she was interested in taking pictures in the pool. And she said yes! “I have wanted this for a long time!”.
If you do not have a photographer friend, feel free to write to them via a contact form on their website, direct to Instagram or other social media channel. If you have a cool idea that suits the photographer in terms of style, he or she will probably accept your offer.
All artists love to shoot creative projects. Most often it is even more interesting than paid projects and it is always the best material for their portfolio. This is pure inspiration!
NOW, ABOUT THE LOCATION. If you do not have a budget, ask the world for help again and all your friends too. Chicago has a lot of very cool downtown residential buildings with stunning views, with a pool and workspace. Ask friends, friends of friends, write letters to hotels, bars, rooftops and also look at Airbnb and even vintage stores. I would put hotels and bars/rooftops in category № 1 because they are also interested in good content. So, you can help each other. As a bonus, you can offer a package of photos of their interior, which they can also use on their website. Or maybe it will be enough for them to get just fashion photos to increase the prestige of their place in the city. Options for collaboration can be very different.
Ask, brainstorm, and ask again. Be open to dialogue. Approach each participant individually in the process, do not copy-paste every email – such text can be seen immediately and the person will lose interest in you.
Eventually, as marketers say, think about what kind of customer/partner problem you can solve. PR, photo content, publication etc. In a pinch, you can ask all participants of the process to gather money for rent. This is also normal. Creative projects require investment to achieve excellent results.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, search of models. I will be honest; in our case, I came up with this photoshoot for myself. I had pink hair and a huge desire to shoot such a mood. And if not for all of these people who decided to work with me, perhaps the world would never have seen these photos. Maybe I posted them only in my personal blog. But we spent a lot of effort and time so that the result did not just remain on our hard drives. We all did a great job. We are professionals in our field and decided that we are ready to share our experiences and results. If you do not have a model, you can feel free to write to the model agencies of the city; very often they need photographers to shoot new faces and you can book a model for free. Write in groups and on forums. Write down all of the details of your idea that you are looking for (height, size, hair, type). You can write directly to the model on social media and again to interest him or her in a shoot. The main thing is to believe that everyone is ready to cooperate if the result is worth it. If you believe in your idea, no one will remain indifferent. Just do it! And good luck to you. You will succeed!
To finally put everything about our shoot on paper, each participant shared their story, a description of the preparatory process and the organization of their part. And if suddenly you still have more questions, we will be happy to answer them in the comments.
I HAVE BEEN A PHOTOGRAPHER FOR THE PAST 10 YEARS, and dealt with all types of work; travel, commercial, lifestyle, product, social content, and fashion. To me, fashion photography is the most exciting and probably the reason I do photography; it is what inspires me and lets me be the most creative. With some work like social content or travel, I work by myself and do not rely on a team to help me. With fashion, it is all about teamwork and what connections you have.
top by Aida Kaas | bikini bottom by Asos | shoes by BCBG Max Azria
DURING THE SHOOT, I move fast and try a ton of things. I know some photographers like to storyboard to know exactly what they are doing, which is a great tool that I use mainly for commercial work, but I always try to leave room for spontaneity when shooting fashion and collaborating.
I want to get inspired by the model, and I want the shoot to move organically where models get inspired by the story and contribute to the shoot. I leave the set with a ton of images, and the next step is editing.
I USE LIGHTROOM TO SORT AND RATE all my images and choose which ones I am going to edit. All color corrections are done in Lightroom as well, and any retouching is done in Photoshop. I establish the color and mood first and create a preset in Lightroom. Then all images get color corrected with that preset, making local adjustments as needed, and then I open them in Photoshop to edit any skin and if I need to take anything out of the photo. And that is a wrap! If that was just a fashion test shoot then you can submit it to magazines in hopes of getting it published; if it was for a magazine then we wait a few months or weeks for the images to see the light of day.
MY MAKEUP KIT VARIES FROM SHOOT TO SHOOT, but there are basics I always keep in my Zuca bag.
- Patchology gel Moisture for all skin types and Embryolisse Cream Moisture for dry & damaged skin;
- Lip scrub (homemade recipe) and Lip mask for moisture from Patchology;
- Luminous or radiant makeup primer that gives the inner glow for the skin;
- Este Lauder Double Wear Foundation 2N1 (full coverage);
- Makeup Forever water-based foundation (light coverage);
- Kevin Aucoin foundation (from light to medium coverage);
- Concealers in the weel by Temptu (not colored ones) + Este Lauder light & medium are always helpful;
- My top blush that I have is liquid Nars Orgasm (they are blend-able and you can apply any color on top);
- Eyeshadow palette Lorac Pro always travels with me and is super basic, but as extra I recommend having Makeup Forever flash palette with you;
- For lips 3 colors are my personal basics: nude, pink and red;
- Benefit Eyebrow pencils in 3 & 4 colors are always helpful with clear gel by Elf
- Remember: Waterproof mascara is a must in every makeup kit!
- Hourglass palette that makes skin flawless, UD makeup fix and HD Powder by Makeup Forever;
*And yeeeeees, do not forget about brushes! I had an experience twice when I did makeup with my fingers – a hands-on technique with one tiny liner brush only – this is not fun.
dress by Yasya Minochkina
What extras should you definitely have in your kit? Cotton swabs & paper towel, sponges, one-use lip & mascara applicators, white or black hand towel, mixing palette, natural & evening look false lashes, make-up cover for the model, hairbrush and hot tools for styling, bobby pins, nail color removing wipes. That’s it! You did it!
*Do not forget to make the call sheet with all team contacts and information and be on set at least 15 minutes before the call time!
BE PREPARED AND ORGANIZED.
FOR THIS PHOTOSHOOT I HAD TO THINK TWICE before packing from New York as we planned the photoshoot with water.
MY BEST ADVICE: USE EVERYTHING WATERPROOF!
- Makeup Atelier Paris Waterproof Foundation;
- Too Faced Better Than Sex waterproof mascara;
- NARS matte lipstick;
- Kohl pencils from Sephora collection (yes, that effect always look cool when you know how to apply it right);
- Fix three times with Urban Decay spray.
MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE: ask the model NOT TO TOUCH the face. Do the touch up EVERYTIME she is out if the water!
WHEN I FIRST MOVED TO NYC, I thought the only way to get clothes for editorial shoots was to purchase them and then to return to the stores. After my huge experience working together with a stylist from Art Department agency on main editorial shoots for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and other huge publications I learned a lot about main PR Agencies in the world – PR Consulting, Karla Otto, Michele Montaigne, Lucien Pages.
You really do not have to purchase anything if it is an editorial shoot for a magazine (unless you have a budget and you want to rent an amazing vintage Yohji Yamamoto trench from Allbright fashion library or vintage Chanel earrings from New York Vintage).
FOR THE REST YOU JUST REACH OUT TO A PR AGENCY which represents the brand you want to shoot; they usually have the collection that will be in stores next season! How do you reach them out – you will ask? For the ability to have all PR contacts of all main brands as Prada, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga I spent 2 years interning and assisting another stylist whose clients are Vogue Arabia, Vogue Spain, Vogue Poland, Elle US, Harper’s Bazaar Spain and others. Those 2 years helped me build my own portfolio and a huge PR contacts database; not to mention that I now have personal contacts with large fashion brands and publishers.
NOW EVERY TIME I PREPARE MY OWN EDITORIAL, I send requests (or my assistant if I have enough budget for that) to brands with looks I choose. You need to send these emails in advance, typically one week prior to your shoot if you want to pull the look you admire, and then to follow up every day. You have to be a respected professional in the industry; the publication you are working for needs to be a cool publication, or you have to have a big name. Before reaching out to PR firms, you need to confirm the mood board and concept with your photographer and magazine. Of course, everything is easier if you have a nice relationship with the magazine in advance, and in this case, you just reach out to the editors and talk about all of the possible brand opportunities.
As you can see, fashion styling is a lot about managing and organizing, it is 90% of your communication skills and 10% of creating magic. And when that 10% finally begins, you feel a sudden high; your heart beats extremely fast, and although you are just creating looks, in your head you imagine you are creating a movie, a story, you feel like a director, each detail is important while you clip, fix, and steam, manipulating all for just one image.