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Photo Contest Insider Blog

Things to Take into Consideration when Planning a Fashion Photo Shoot

September 26, 2016

If you’re looking to get into the fashion photography game, chances are one of the first things you’ll actually want to do is plan a fashion photo shoot. Everyone needs to start somewhere, but your first fashion photo shoot can be a cause for excitement, confusion, or even anxiety.

If you’re looking to organize a fashion-based series but don’t know where to begin, then you’ll be pleased to hear that today I’ll be sharing all of the things you need to take into consideration when planning a fashion photo shoot. Remember, at the end of the day practice makes perfect, so it’s time to get planning and shooting!

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The Theme:

One of the first things to consider when planning a fashion photo shoot is exactly what kind of theme you wish to explore. Would you like to capture a whimsical tea party-themed series, or perhaps something darker which celebrates gothic style? When it comes to choosing a theme, the sky really is your limit, but it’s simply important that you have one in order to guide the rest of your photo shoot planning.

Think about what kinds of things you can work with too in order to bring that theme to life. You might actually stumble upon a location, model, brand, specific item of clothing, or HMUA (hair and make-up artist) first and find that the inspiration for your photo shoot’s theme develops from there. There’s certainly no rules when it comes to deciding upon a theme or aesthetic.

A great way to create a visual representation of your theme is actually to put together a moodboard. You can then print this out to bring with you on the big day, plus you can also share it with anyone else involved in the shoot to ensure that you’re all aware of the series’ aesthetic. Creating a moodboard is fun and easy – all you need to do is scour the internet (Pinterest is a great source) or magazines for images that inspire your vision. They can be anything from a certain mood, to colors, poses, beauty looks, specific clothing styles, locations, props, and more. Remember, there is no limit to your imagination!

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Finding a Model:

While you might think that the clothing of a fashion photo shoot is important, I would say that the model is perhaps more important because he or she becomes the ‘face’ of your series. You want them to be captivating and to compliment the theme or aesthetic you had in mind.

Many photographers who are only just starting out in their career might panic that their lack of experience will hinder their chances at working with a model, but with everything, you just start small and grow from there. If the below methods don’t work out for you, then this is the worst-case scenario: you get a friend or relative to pose as your model instead. How fun! It’s not all that bad, is it? You will practice your photography skills, create some images to add to your portfolio, and you have nothing to lose.

For those of you wanting to work with a more experienced or even agency-represented model in your photo shoot, then there are a number of ways you can go about this. Firstly, if your portfolio is especially dazzling you may be able to do some test-shoots for a local modelling agency free of charge. Of course, you’ll just be expected to provide the agency with your high-quality images. Alternatively, some photographers might pay a fee to work with a more professional model of their choice, but be warned, this isn’t always cheap.

Alternatively, if you want to work with an experienced model but don’t necessarily need them to be agency-represented, then look online! Model Mayhem is a well-known platform. It allows photographers and models to discover one another and collaborate simply for the exchange of time for images that both creatives can include in their portfolios. You can even narrow your search down to those in your local area to make things easier.

Another method is to search for Facebook groups and communities which are also aimed at connecting photographers with models. Look for models whom you feel as though you will connect with creatively and ask yourself, ‘do they represent the vision I had in mind for this photo shoot?’

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Another huge element of your photo shoot will actually be the location that it will take place. Will your series be indoors or outdoors? What kind of a location would suit your theme? For example, a whimsical tea party shoot might take place in an Alice in Wonderland inspired garden, or even an antique tea room.

It’s also important to think about what locations are easily accessible to you – you could even use your home or studio if it’s appropriate for an indoor shoot. If you’ve decided upon your theme but need to find a location that will do your images justice, then the best way to do this is simply to hop online or go location scouting in your spare time. Who knows what wonderful places you’ll find!

You’ll also want to ensure that your location will be central to all collaborators for this shoot and it will be easy to get to – you don’t want any disasters on the day.

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Clothing and Accessories:

A fashion photo shoot will often aim to highlight certain garments or styles, so this is something you’ll certainly want to take into consideration. Again, go back to your theme – what ‘look’ are you going for?

If you’re just starting out as a photographer, you can still contact small / independent brands or visit local boutiques to see if you can borrow some clothing for your photo shoot. Be sure to mention that you’ll be crediting their brand / shop where relevant. If this falls through (or you simply don’t want to approach others for clothing), then there’s no harm in styling your model in her own outfits and accessories – just make sure that the look is cohesive and true to your vision.

Don’t be afraid to plan an entire photo shoot around just one or two stand-out garments too. It might be a gorgeous, flowing gown or even an ethereal tiara. Similarly, you can also embrace your creative side and opt to create a fashionable prop of your own – think about flower crowns, dresses, or even a set of wings!

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Working with Hair and / or Make-up Artists:

Hair and make-up artists are also important parts of a fashion photo shoot because they help to transform your model even more into the vision you had in your mind. Hair and make-up are both visual elements of the shoot too, therefore they can really make or break a series sometimes. A photo shoot celebrating gothic style might need heavy and dramatic make-up, along with a specific hairstyle, whereas an ethereal bridal photo shoot would require a softer, natural, and even more enchanting beauty look.

So, exactly how do you go about finding make-up and / or hair stylists to collaborate with? There are sites also dedicated to showcasing emerging artists in these fields who are open to participating in photo shoots simply in exchange for being able to use the images in their portfolios. A quick Google search should uncover a few of these platforms!

If you’re working with an experienced model, you can also ask them if they know of any make-up artists or hair stylists from their previous photo shoots. They may have a favorite who they enjoy working with regularly, so it always helps to ask around! You might even have a friend who has a cousin studying make-up artistry – you get the idea 😉

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Organizing the Shoot Day, Time, etc.

Once you’ve gathered a team for your photo shoot (or at least a model), it’s time to ensure that you have everyone’s contact details so you can begin organizing when the shoot will take place. This can easily be done via email or even in a thread on Facebook, but the main thing is that you communicate when you’re all free so that you can decide upon the best time and day for everyone to attend.

You’ll also want to decide upon a meeting place that is easy to get to and be sure to take into account the various ways that your team will be traveling to get there, i.e. some may take the train, bus, or drive directly there. Are there any public transport issues on that day that might hinder your start time? Can you assist anyone by offering to pick them up at the train station or bus stop? You’ll want your photo shoot to run as smoothly as possible!

It’s also very important that you have everyone’s contact details saved in your phone for the day (phone numbers are incredibly important) and that they also have yours. If someone is running late, suddenly sick, or can’t find the meeting place, they’ll certainly need to call.

It would also be reassuring to both you and your team if the day before the shoot you send a text or email just to ensure everyone is still on-track to meet at the agreed time and place the next day. You can also check-in with them on the morning of the shoot to make sure everything is going according to plan.

Another vital element which comes into play when planning an outdoor photo shoot is that you have a ‘plan B’ in case of bad weather. Are there any sheltered areas at your planned location? Or will you have to postpone the photo shoot entirely? You’ll need to take all of this into account with your team.

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Tips for the Day of the Shoot:

Once all of the planning has been done, it’s time to focus on the day of your shoot and producing some really amazing photos that you’ll all be proud of. There are also a number of things that you should take into consideration in order to make the day as wonderful as possible.

Firstly, why not bring some snacks or even drinks for your team members? It’ll be an instant ice breaker and shows them that you appreciate their time and effort also. Because this fashion photo shoot will most likely be a collaborative experience for all of you, it’s a great idea to ask for their opinions or even discuss various ideas for the shoot on the day. You may have done a lot of this in the lead-up to the photo shoot, but a little more discussion face-to-face can’t hurt.

It’s also encouraged that you show the other creatives the results every now and then throughout the shoot. Ask them what their favorite images might be and ensure that you’re capturing the model in as many different poses as possible – you definitely want variety if you’re hoping to submit the images to a publication! Don’t panic if the first few images aren’t great either, as it may take the model just a few minutes to warm-up and get into the groove of things.

The most important aspect of planning and capturing any fashion photo shoot is that you have fun, collaborate with others to build your network, and continue practicing to gain as much experience as possible! If you focus on these three things, then you really can’t go wrong 🙂

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