Photography 101: Preparing for a Fashion Shoot.

"Model needed for a fashion shoot tomorrow"! I get a lot of these broadcast messages on my blackberry messenger on an almost weekly basis. It seems like everyday while browsing through my Facebook timeline, I come across numerous images from various "fashion shoots". And if i have to be brutally honest a lot of these images would not make it past the first round of critiques. According to Wikipedia fashion is defined as

a popular style or practice, especially in clothing, footwear, accessories, makeup, body piercing, or furniture.

A fashion shoot could therefore fall into the category of beauty shoot, clothing shoot or accessory shoot among others.

As the saying goes "anything worth doing is worth doing well", I thought I'd share my steps towards a successful fashion shoot.

Step 1: Planning the Fashion Shoot

Planning is 80% of the work. I find that spending some more time planning usually leads to a more successful, less stress free fashion shoot. I know that sometimes we wake up in the morning and are hit by sudden inspiration and just want to shoot, but in my opinion most of these impromptu shoots are rarely successful. While planning, some things to ask yourself are

  • What kind of shoot do I want to have?

  • What is the theme?

  • What equipment/props would I need? Do I have them? Can I get them?

  • Am I shooting outdoor or in the studio?

  • If I am shooting outdoor, what time of the day am I shooting? What happens if it rains?

Step 2: Select a Model

If you are shooting beauty, clothing or an editorial then you are going to need a model. Selecting the model for your shoot is very important as having the right model could mean the difference between shooting for twenty minutes or shooting for four hours. If you've been shooting for a while, most likely you already have a relationship with various models and modelling agencies. However if you're just starting out, social media would be a good place to find models. I found my very first model on Facebook. A little trick I learnt was that most models are friends with other models. A quick browse though a model's Facebook friend list should supply you with a nice directory of models

[caption id="attachment_677" align="aligncenter" width="834"]model before Fashion Shoot Selecting the right model can mean the difference between a 20 min shoot and a 4 hour shoot[/caption]

Step 3: Hair and Makeup

I cannot stress how important it is to have hair and makeup for your shoot. If you are shooting a human being, you are going to need hair and makeup. Whether you are shooting a male subject or a female subject, you are going to need hair and makeup. And No, you cannot fix it in Photoshop later. I made this mistake earlier in my career and I am none the wiser for it. Having a good hair stylist and makeup artist can save your hours in post production. It is so important that I never do any kind of shoot without having one on set. If you're starting out and cannot afford to hire a hair and makeup stylist, my suggestion would be to collaborate. Offer your services to them in the form of a collaboration project. When I was starting out, I actually walked into a hair salon and propositioned the owner. That was how I got my first few beauty images in my portfolio. Now when I'm being hired, I factor in the cost of hiring a hair and makeup stylist and bill it to the client.

[caption id="attachment_676" align="aligncenter" width="834"]Hair Syylist attending to Model's hair before Fashion Shoot A good hair and makeup artist can save you hours of post production[/caption]

Step 4: Lighting

Any photographer worth his salt knows that it is not the camera, nor the lens but the lighting that can make or break the image. As long as you have good quality light, then you can create a good image. Hopefully you would have decided on what kind of lighting (natural or artificial) and what kind of lighting setup. The lighting setup you use can affect how much flaws are revealed in the skin and how much post production work you have ahead of you. I would suggest you watch Lindsay Adler's  CreativeLive course on skin to have an idea on how to light the skin. The link can be found here

Step 5: Culling and Post Production

You've had your shoot, you've gotten your images on your computer. The next step is culling. Not every image you shoot makes it pass the culling stage into post production.

[caption id="attachment_678" align="aligncenter" width="834"]culling images from fashion shoot Select only your best shots for editing[/caption]

You should take your time to select the best of the best. Only these end up being post produced before being shared with the world.  After making your selections, time to post process. I could write a 400 page essay on post production and still would not have scratched the surface. The one advice I would give is be patient. In order to get amazing results you need to take your time. I usually spend between 2 - 5 hours on each image from a fashion shoot

beauty shot of henrietta nonye lagos beauty shoot


These are just some of the steps I go through each fashion shoot. Hopefully they serve as a guide to help you toward planning your next successful fashion shoot. I can't wait to see your images on social media.

1 comment

  1. Very helpful suggestions that help in the optimizing website. Thank you for valuable suggestions.Imagenomic Portraiture 3