Insider’s Guide to Producing a Fashion Photoshoot

The days leading up to a photoshoot are always buzzing with anticipation. The ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for so long are finally released with the first click of the shutter when that vision appears on screen. However, from the development of garments to the logistics of location scouting and prop sourcing, there’s a lot of preparation leading up to the ‘big day’.

For our Winter collection this year we spent a morning at the flower market seeking the perfect blossoms, and a lot of time at flea markets, rummaging for hidden treasures reminiscent of Dutch masters. Our stylist, Stephanie, was challenged with the task of putting together modern fused with period-chic outfits, an ambitious goal but one she certainly far exceeded! The result was just what I had hoped for, atmospheric images reminiscent of Old Masters, inspired by the extensive museum reservoir, and reimagined into modern designs. It’s thanks to our diligent designers, fearless technical editors, and hard-working photoshoot team that small sparks of inspiration can become a tangible reality.

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Gathering Inspiration

I’ve had the idea of doing a collection of designs inspired by art historical references for years. I loved the idea of bringing together my post-academia love of art history together with our work at Brooklyn Tweed in some way.

In college, I spent nine months abroad in Rome studying art history and fell in love with the lighting and composition of paintings from the Baroque period, especially those of the Dutch Masters like Vermeer and Rembrandt. I thought it would be a fun, creative challenge to create imagery inspired by this genre of painting for a knitwear collection, and to use art historical references as a springboard for our designers to begin concepts for their garments.

8 Ways to Source Inspiration for Your Photoshoot:

  1. Think of ways to convey the idea behind your seasonal range into something your customers can visually understand
  2. Determine the “feel” you want for the season, and then choose the location that exemplifies this concept and start to imagine the poses your model will act out
  3. Determine what props, setting, or styling will help convey your collection; create a mood board to narrow down the concepts you want to have at your photoshoot
  4. Create a plotline with character concepts and mood; i.e. will your model powerfully wear your designs or casually lounge around a comfortable setting
  5. Use Pinterest to source ideas for your photoshoot. Take advantage of their powerful search options and the thousands of boards created for fashion shoot inspirations
  6. Adventure out with a camera, your inspiration board, and capture 20 photos that you can take back to the office to shoot
  7. Research fashion magazines editorials or shoots that have done something similar to what you hope to accomplish, these will be great sources of inspiration when deciding on shoot locations, lighting and props
  8. Scout the location and be sure to do your homework. A studio is an ideal place to shoot because photographers can easily control key elements like lighting and weather. If you decide to shoot outdoors, make sure you gain the appropriate permits or permission requests in advance
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Planning the Actual Photoshoot

Last November, when our Design Team convened in NYC for our regular design retreat, we took a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to gather inspiration for some of our newest patterns in the Winter 15 collection. For this collection, we also welcomed a very special guest member to our team, my talented cousin, Craig Flood, who is a videographer based in Portland, Oregon.

Pro-Tips in Planning Your Photoshoot:

  1. Budget your costs! Including location fees, lighting, props, travel expenses, etc
  2. Hire a location scout to find the perfect setting for the fashion pieces you’ll be shooting
  3. Props are a great resource for telling narrative within a fashion shoot
  4. Contact a stylist, designer, or boutique to help you source a complete look (e.g. shoes, jewelry, and accessories)
  5. Look for an experienced make-up artist, hair stylist and clothing stylist along with professional models or non-professional models who look comfortable on camera
  6. Make sure you will have enough hands on the set. For example, the photographer will often need someone to position reflectors or tweak the position of the model’s garments

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The Editing Process

For a collection of ten pieces, we’ll bring fifty ideas together. The retreat is about editing those ideas down. The best part of the retreat is that those ideas bounce back and forth. One idea might be enhanced by an idea someone else brought to the table. We start pulling at one thread and other people improve their design concepts around what we begin to do collectively.

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Every garment is from an entirely different inspiration. For example, one person designed something from a photograph taken in 1995 and another person created something from a sculpture made in 1840. There was no single period or artist or any particular genre within the museum that informed directly all of the garments.

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3 Tactics for Streamlining the Editing Process:

  1. Run through potential looks with your team to help narrow down your collection prior to the shoot
  2. Select pieces that display color cohesion and the main concept of your collection
  3. Choose one classic piece and one statement fashion piece that’s edgier
  4. Select 1-2 colors of a particular style; choose the strongest color that displays the style effectively; avoid shooting the entire style and color range


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The Day of the Photoshoot

It’s takes around nine months between the time of our retreat, where we walk away with a clear idea of what the collection will be through to the moment we’re actually shooting a garment. Even so, in the days leading up to the shoot, there’s a lot of things running through my head.

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I usually feel a mix of excitement and nerves. I think that the nervousness that comes before a shoot is from knowing how much effort has already gone into the day. Not just from my own efforts, but for everyone who’s involved in the shoot. Whether that’s the shoot crew or our patternmakers and sample machinists. There’s a lot that goes into it. On the actual day of the photoshoot, there’s so much hope and excitement. However, you really need to get those first few frames fired off to start feeling like you know what it’s going to look like. Until those first few images start popping up on your screen, there’s always that question in your mind, “Will it look exactly like I’m hoping?” or “Will it look exactly like I’m striving for?”

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How to Ensure a Positive Outcome for Your Photoshoot: 

  1. Make sure all samples are steamed before the actual shooting begins
  2. Match your accessories and featured items to the look they’ll accompany before you arrive on-location
  3. Keep your mood-board on-hand as a reference and refresher so that everyone is on the same page
  4. Double check the call sheet to make sure each member of the shooting crew is present on the day of shoot and understands their key responsibility in the shoot
  5. Keep the camera focused on the clothing to focus on the intrinsic beauty of each design
  6. Moving around the scene to explore alternative camera angles and ways to creatively capture the shot


The End of the Shoot

At the end of the shoot day when the photoshoot has gone really well, it’s a feeling of excitement and relief. To really make those images be what you want them to be and tell the story that you set out to tell so long before, is such a feeling of excitement and accomplishment for everyone involved.

As a creative, it’s really important to be open up to new ideas and change it up from time to time.

What things have you found works well for your brand in preparing for a photoshoot? Tweet us @MakersRow.  

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