Forums > Photography Talk > I'm no fashion expert. How to style shoots?

Photographer

HO Photo

Posts: 517

Los Angeles, California, US

I always wonder about this -- generally I'm kind of at the whim of whatever my model pulls from her closet after we've discussed my concept. Sometimes that works great. Other times, not so much.

I could go out and buy stuff that catches my eye, at thrift shops or new at retail or whatever, but that's a) an investment in cash for clothes that AREN'T for my wife, and she ain't gonna love that just on principle wink and b) I have an eye for what I like, but wouldn't actually KNOW WHAT I WAS DOING beyond that.

I see from browsing availability notices that there are precious few on MM from wardrobe stylists.

I'd love to hear people's input on how to style good looking shoots, apart from directing every model to put on the tried-and-true birthday suit!

Jan 07 13 05:17 pm Link

Photographer

Sonn

Posts: 338

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

I had a similar question which got some good replies here

http://www.modelmayhem.com/po.php?thread_id=874402

Jan 07 13 05:20 pm Link

Photographer

Leighthenubian

Posts: 2968

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Buy a fashion mag that features the kinds of looks you want...and share the images with the model/mua to give them an idea.

This is actually a good question...nothing sends your image quality higher than styling and makeup..you can shoot that with a cheap camera and still do better than most here.

Jan 07 13 05:25 pm Link

Photographer

MichaelClements

Posts: 1739

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Think colour first and foremost, blocks, prints, props, background etc. Then choose garments based on that.

Jan 07 13 05:26 pm Link

Photographer

kevinLi

Posts: 214

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Find a stylist.

Jan 07 13 05:57 pm Link

Photographer

Tiffany Katz

Posts: 239

Palm Coast, Florida, US

Illuminate wrote:
Buy a fashion mag that features the kinds of looks you want...and share the images with the model/mua to give them an idea.

This is actually a good question...nothing sends your image quality higher than styling and makeup..you can shoot that with a cheap camera and still do better than most here.

I agree with everything said here ^.  I've got folders full of ideas from magazines.  As far as buying things for shoots, you could always return what you purchase if the store doesn't have a strict return policy. Models have been doing it forever, and as far as I'm concerned there is nothing wrong with it as long as you take good care of the clothing.

Jan 07 13 05:59 pm Link

Photographer

Studio MD - Casting

Posts: 1213

New York, New York, US

Trust your gut.

I started by telling the models what I wanted. Then I got some stylists involved. Then, after I had more dough and grew frustrated with the stylist I was working with, I went thrifting and buying/returning to create some looks that fit what I wanted. I moved, started back from the bottom and have worked my way up. Now I have a small stable of stylists who each have certain talents (one is great at mens, another is great at knits, another is really great at showing skin, another is great at bling, another gets crazy pulls from avant garde designers, another is good at casual, etc...).

But basically: do whatever the fuck you need to do. Most models on this site are not going to have a great closet and they're only going to have their closet. You can show them some crazy fashion, but chanced are: they won't have what you're looking for. So do it yourself or get some stylists or do both!

Jan 07 13 08:12 pm Link

Photographer

Andrew Thomas Evans

Posts: 24078

Minneapolis, Minnesota, US

Haseeb Omar Photo wrote:
I'd love to hear people's input on how to style good looking shoots, apart from directing every model to put on the tried-and-true birthday suit!

I try to keep things simple. That way I'm not doing too much or trying too much or (as lot of local stylists do) put way too much on a model. Also, it lets me create images that may last a little longer since they aren't trying to be next season or the next big thing.

Then again, I'm not an editorial shooter so my goals are a little different sometimes.




Andrew Thomas Evans
www.andrewthomasevans.com

Jan 07 13 08:59 pm Link

Photographer

Fotografica Gregor

Posts: 4122

Alexandria, Virginia, US

this is what wardrobe stylists and designers are for -    putting together a team and learning to work with them will improve the quality of your work -

or try to hook up with an emerging designer - perhaps he or she will have team resources to offer if he or she likes your work well enough to collab.....

Jan 07 13 09:04 pm Link

Photographer

MC Photo

Posts: 4144

New York, New York, US

In every field that's interesting, there are more than enough people who are 10s across the board. 10, 10, 9, 10 is not enough. 10, 10, 10, 10 is not enough. 10, 10, 10, 10, 10 + luck or who knows you and you've got a chance.

So figure it out, or let the dozens of others who will take your jobs.

The gentle answer is take your time and figure it out.

If Terry Richardson can have a career with a point and shoot, there's really no excuse for a soccer mom with a DSLR. Sorry, I mean someone who calls themselves a photographer, with a DLSR.



Baby steps.

Jan 07 13 11:32 pm Link

Photographer

Al Lock Photography

Posts: 16071

Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand

My approach to photography is what I call the "Art Director Approach". I previsualize my shots, make sketches, find things that fit the concepts. True whether testing or a paid gig. I have an online calendar to shoot next week with a concept of 12 dates (dating dates). The concepts have been approved, locations approved and we are now working on the wardrobe. Some of it is straightforward, some a little less so, but my entire team will know exactly what is expected for each shot before the shoot date and I will have the "layouts" (my rough sketches) on hand throughout the shoot day to refer to. With this approach, I find styling and wardrobe becomes pretty straight forward since each shot has a theme or idea behind it.

Jan 08 13 02:58 am Link

Photographer

liddellphoto

Posts: 1801

London, England, United Kingdom

Look at look books online and pics from the various fashion weeks that you like and fit you idea and then try and create something similar with what you can find. Since I'm rubbish at styling this is my plan going forward.

Jan 08 13 04:58 am Link

Photographer

Kallea

Posts: 77

Knoxville, Tennessee, US

MichaelClements wrote:
Think colour first and foremost, blocks, prints, props, background etc. Then choose garments based on that.

You are so right!!!!!  and this dawned on me just little while ago. The way I came to this conclusion I looked at images that I loved and worked out why. Just having a pretty girl in the image doesn't always make a great shot. (same with nudes).
Keep smiling

Jan 08 13 05:33 am Link

Photographer

Yum Yum Photo

Posts: 442

Park Ridge, New Jersey, US

If you dont know what you are doing concerning clothing... Keep it simple..... Make sure the items fit.... Use potatoe chip bag clips to pull clothing in when dresses are too big.....

There are costume places which rent clothing some vintage places do that....

and try to work out the clothing before the shoot.... I usually schedule fittings....

Jan 08 13 09:35 am Link

Photographer

Yum Yum Photo

Posts: 442

Park Ridge, New Jersey, US

If you dont know what you are doing concerning clothing... Keep it simple..... Make sure the items fit.... Use potatoe chip bag clips to pull clothing in when dresses are too big.....

There are costume places which rent clothing some vintage places do that....

and try to work out the clothing before the shoot.... I usually schedule fittings....

Jan 08 13 09:35 am Link

Photographer

Phase Shift Photography

Posts: 86

Atlanta, Georgia, US

To maintain domestic tranquility, work within the limitations of the model's wardrobe. Ask her to bring several different outfits and both of you can choose from among them at the beginning of the shoot. Also, before the shoot, ask her if she has a certain garment and send her pics of concepts. Lots of models don't mind doing a little shopping for a photo shoot.

Jan 08 13 11:17 am Link

Photographer

liddellphoto

Posts: 1801

London, England, United Kingdom

Art of Verity wrote:

You are so right!!!!!  and this dawned on me just little while ago. The way I came to this conclusion I looked at images that I loved and worked out why. Just having a pretty girl in the image doesn't always make a great shot. (same with nudes).
Keep smiling

Looking at some colour theory is definitely a big help.

Jan 08 13 11:21 am Link

Photographer

HO Photo

Posts: 517

Los Angeles, California, US

I believe this was my first ever post to the MM forums -- I'm not disappointed. Lots of really helpful responses here, and even some direct messages with more!

smile Thanks everyone. An urban fashion concept that has been tickling my creative bone for several months is now penciled into the calendar, with young designer (whose clothes I really like) committed to styling and accessorizing everything with her line.

This takes the detail work of styling out of my hands, while letting me maintain OCD-like control I demand over my shoots -- I trust her to style it well, because I like how she rolls. Now I can focus on the photography.

Jan 08 13 11:36 am Link

Photographer

Yum Yum Photo

Posts: 442

Park Ridge, New Jersey, US

I can give you list of what not use in styling

Those floppy hats you know the ones from the 70's....

UGGS and Daisy Dukes ( alone or together ughh)

Hoochie wear.... Especially hooker shoes...Unless thats what you are going for.... Spandex is not the only way to say sexy....

Tighty whities on guys

If you see your outfit walking around the mall or at a highschool you know you are going in the wrong direction.....

Jan 08 13 12:55 pm Link

Photographer

AJ_In_Atlanta

Posts: 12836

Atlanta, Georgia, US

No, seriously find a stylist. 

If you want to shoot fashion its a basic requirement, at least on a professional level. 99% of fashion editorials are done with a stylist, usually a well respected on or maybe featuring a new up and coming one.

Jan 08 13 12:58 pm Link

Photographer

Yum Yum Photo

Posts: 442

Park Ridge, New Jersey, US

Yes a stylist is worth it....and dont do make up if you cant get it done well.... Bad clothing and make up can be the death of a picture.

In choosing a stylist if the stylist is dressed badly take a pass on that stylist...

A good stylist can can turn nothing into something and they can guide you on the hair and make up.....

Jan 08 13 01:11 pm Link

Photographer

Azimuth Arts

Posts: 1490

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

AJScalzitti wrote:
No, seriously find a stylist. 

If you want to shoot fashion its a basic requirement, at least on a professional level. 99% of fashion editorials are done with a stylist, usually a well respected on or maybe featuring a new up and coming one.

+1

It's true that there is no substitute for hiring a stylist unless you are one of those unique gifted people that has an incredible sense of style and skills as a photographer - I know I am NOT one of those people.

But if hiring a stylist is not in your budget follow the other suggestions here - if nothing else reading the latest fashion magazines and/or blogs will at make it easy for you to communicate with the stylists when you are able to hire them.

When I have worked with a stylist the clothes always look better than when I style the shoot myself, but I've still had a fair bit of luck on self-styled shoots.  Once trick I found that works well is to go into a store that sells the styles you are looking for.  Look at the fully styled mannequins in the store and buy everything on them.  Essentially a pre-styled shoot.  Working with agency models also helps a lot because the usually look so much better in off the rack clothes than models who have stats outside the normal agency range.

Just my $0.02

Jan 08 13 02:11 pm Link

Photographer

Antonio Carrasco

Posts: 100

Los Angeles, California, US

DON'T style shoots. Find a talented stylist to work with.

We, as photographers, try to do too much. We end up trying to learn how to do makeup, set design, wardrobe styling, etc.

When you're on set for a photo session, there are already a million things going on to have to worry about. And if you are trying to be a stylist too, you are asking for disaster.

PLUS, having a wardrobe stylist on set is good because they will notice that wrinkle in the dress or that tag sticking out or the scuff on the shoes or whatever little detail about the clothes that isn't perfect and they can fix it for you BEFORE you press the shutter so you don't have to spend hours in photoshop fixing things.

ALSO, a stylist will have working connections with local designers or brands to be able to do "pulls" for your shoot. A pull is where they gather the right clothing for the shoot. A stylist will know what is and isn't going to look good and be in style on a model. If the stylist can do pulls for you, often you don't have to buy the clothing as the stylist returns it to the designer after the shoot.

IF you find yourself buying womens clothing at Target, you are not on the right track. You MUST get a team to put together good fashion/editorial portrait shoots and not try to do everything yourself.

Jan 08 13 02:55 pm Link

Photographer

HO Photo

Posts: 517

Los Angeles, California, US

Intensity Studios wrote:
You MUST get a team to put together good fashion/editorial portrait shoots and not try to do everything yourself.

This brings me back to one of the original points: I don't see a lot of stylists posting availability notices on MM. What are the other avenues to building these sort of working relationships?

Jan 08 13 03:30 pm Link

Photographer

Andrew Thomas Evans

Posts: 24078

Minneapolis, Minnesota, US

Intensity Studios wrote:
When you're on set for a photo session, there are already a million things going on to have to worry about. And if you are trying to be a stylist too, you are asking for disaster.

This is not a reason to have a stylist. In the end you're responsible for the final quality and images, and blame will be placed on you for a bad shoot - not your stylist.

Noticing small things with clothing is part of our job.


Also it's our job to select and work with a good stylist. They are sometimes very hard to find, or at least ones that are truly good rather than just have a following of people blowing smoke up their ass telling them they are good.


Andrew Thomas Evans
www.andrewthomasevans.com

Jan 08 13 04:03 pm Link

Photographer

Escalante

Posts: 5367

Chicago, Illinois, US

If you want to get ahead in anything in life , you need to learn how to properly INVEST.
  If you are sincerely looking to advance your level of quality and begin producing Viable , marketing tools that will help accomplish that ,then
  INVEST .
  Go put up a casting call and search for them .
  PAY THEM they are worthy every single freaking penny if they have the portfolio and experience .
   Same goes for the Make up artist , in-fact anyone who is on the background studio team then think of this ( again) as a Investment .

Don't be a arrogant thinking person that considers the person holding the camera the 'ONE & ONLY" that matters , true pros know the value & worth of the team behind them .

    Best of luck  to you .

Jan 08 13 04:11 pm Link

Wardrobe Stylist

by Namreh

Posts: 20

London, England, United Kingdom

if you don't know how to style, or don't have a fashion feeling, consider to collaborate with somebody who knows...quite some Mua's and hair-stylists  know fashion, and have some feel for it...else invest or work together with a starting wardrobe-stylist...there are certainly also models interested in expanding their fields as a ward-robe-stylist...

In any case...don't go traditional or casual, don't go overboard/extreme, but go more into the slightly extra-ordinary, eye-catchers

Jan 10 13 05:02 am Link

Photographer

KA Style

Posts: 1583

Syracuse, New York, US

kevinLi wrote:
Find a stylist.

Yea if you actually have one in your area because I don't! lol


OP magazines, fashion type sites, and do you maybe have a model friend that can help? Or even a female friend? If you do have a stylist in your area connect with them. Try fashion students at your local college. smile

Jan 10 13 05:23 am Link

Photographer

NRPhoto

Posts: 4

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US

I find a lot of inspiration from fashion bloggers and independent fashion magazines (online and in print) and present those ideas to my stylist.

Jan 10 13 05:56 am Link

Photographer

Loki Studio

Posts: 3024

Royal Oak, Michigan, US

It is impossible to create good fashion photos without good fashion styling. Hire a stylist period.

Jan 10 13 07:49 am Link

Photographer

KA Style

Posts: 1583

Syracuse, New York, US

Loki Studio wrote:
It is impossible to create good fashion photos without good fashion styling. Hire a stylist period.

Its not always an option.. Im my area I think 5 are listed and they are boring regular clothes anyone can get at the mall, havent logged on in two years, or stripper outfits!

Jan 10 13 07:53 am Link

Photographer

Dan OMell

Posts: 1335

Ufa, Bashkortostan, Russia

sometimes it's easier to create your own style than learn to make it "right".

Jan 10 13 08:35 am Link

Photographer

Loki Studio

Posts: 3024

Royal Oak, Michigan, US

KA Style wrote:

Its not always an option.. Im my area I think 5 are listed and they are boring regular clothes anyone can get at the mall, havent logged on in two years, or stripper outfits!

Then go recruiting at upscale clothing stores and boutiques, get references from other area models and photograhers, or travel to shoot in NYC.  If you have no success finding stylists, then you may want to rethink fashion photography anyways, since it is a solid indication that there is no market in your area.

Jan 12 13 05:54 am Link

Photographer

KA Style

Posts: 1583

Syracuse, New York, US

Loki Studio wrote:

Then go recruiting at upscale clothing stores and boutiques, get references from other area models and photograhers, or travel to shoot in NYC.  If you have no success finding stylists, then you may want to rethink fashion photography anyways, since it is a solid indication that there is no market in your area.

I dont have an issue with styling, I was just making a point thats its not an option in all areas. Find a stylist is not the only answer and when you want to experiment/learn not everyone can just run off to NYC.. I suggested working with a model friend or the like already..

I shoot fashion for fun. big_smile

Jan 12 13 07:19 am Link

Photographer

Loki Studio

Posts: 3024

Royal Oak, Michigan, US

KA Style wrote:

I dont have an issue with styling, I was just making a point thats its not an option in all areas. Find a stylist is not the only answer and when you want to experiment/learn not everyone can just run off to NYC.. I suggested working with a model friend or the like already..

I shoot fashion for fun. big_smile

Finding and hiring a professional to learn a brand new skill is always an option for those serious about success, and the only real answer to the OP.  Those who are not serious can always find an excuse-its too expensive, I cant find any where I live, I'm not really serious about it-whine away.  Working with an equally unskilled friend is no path to building a skill.

If you want to learn to speak Chinese, then finding a Chinese language teacher is clearly the best and most effective option. You can watch Bruce Lee movies all weekend with your buddies, but it won't make ordering takeout any easier.

Jan 13 13 12:34 am Link

guide forum

Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6710

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

I agree that it's hard to find a stylist... especially for tests.

Those in vegas are all lingerie, swim, or flat out suck with stuff from the gap. I've had to style myself. Months of picking up stuff from thrift and vintage sales, and I've got enough to put together a few looks, sometimes mashed up with what the model brings.

Jan 13 13 12:38 am Link

Photographer

Studio MD - Casting

Posts: 1213

New York, New York, US

Since so many people insist that photographers need to hire a stylist to move up, I'm going to post soms shots I styled by myself in tests that led to either
• work or
• having stylists contacting me to see if I'd like to collaborate with them.
I sourced all the wardrobe by either thrift stores, going through the models closet, buying/returning, asking to borrow clothes from friends, or making them myself. These were all shot within the first 2 years of moving to NY at random points in order to communicate something to stylists and clients. They're not necessarily top labels or high fashion, but they communicated well enough that it brought me the people I wanted and opened doors. I have had MANY people tell me these images were used in mood boards on fashion jobs shot by others and many stylists have told me they have referenced these images.


http://api.ning.com/files/jLnxtKk9i4c5Cizi3xT46qy61vMD7nUREMvmaCgA7xoZBSULuttbX17zz-Fj37IhGJSxyebhr05J250hALSamSwqf0PfH5pi/MeretheHoplandbyMichaelDonovan.jpeg?width=600&height=600

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lguf0l9d4B1qa2ycio1_500.jpg

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_pI-An64eAdQ/TQiDK8xLDSI/AAAAAAAAEuI/4mWpY-92Nyc/s800/natalia%2Bmichael.jpg

http://scriptical.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/golden-eye-michael-donovan-01.jpg?w=700

http://27.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lqwwh4YbQn1qztfwfo1_400.jpg

http://michaeldonovan.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/img_9241.jpg?w=700

http://michaeldonovan.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/img_3364-2.jpg?w=700

http://michaeldonovan.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/img_6480.jpg?w=700

http://michaeldonovan.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/img_1709.jpg?w=700

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/61257_470773726070_2897284_n.jpg

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/60539_476413536070_4609256_n.jpg

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/65919_483661956070_8285171_n.jpg

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/33903_488357526070_4042435_n.jpg

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/149680_10150093311951071_1469100_n.jpg

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/188450_10150162412961071_6511944_n.jpg

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/225216_10150236790776071_6390855_n.jpg

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/227482_10150241367046071_3926018_n.jpg

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/250463_10150272336106071_1847187_n.jpg

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash4/262241_10150285718431071_1847733_n.jpg

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn1/15173_10151295834521071_754194148_n.jpg

You do NOT need to hire a stylist - hiring a stylist will NOT give you talent. You can, but having a clear vision is much more powerful.

Jan 13 13 12:56 am Link

Wardrobe Stylist

by Namreh

Posts: 20

London, England, United Kingdom

What Mike wants to say, you need to develop your photographic view further, before a stylist could enhance your story. Else a stylist would not add much to your images. Styling would then be a minor enhancement

Jan 13 13 01:27 am Link

Photographer

Studio MD - Casting

Posts: 1213

New York, New York, US

by Namreh wrote:
What Mike wants to say, you need to develop your photographic view further, before a stylist could enhance your story. Else a stylist wo would not add much to your images

Thank you for clarifying big_smile

I don't want to devalue stylists. I rely heavily on them and some close friends are stylists! I hear about the emails they get from bad photographers trying to hire them - sometimes they take the jobs but they end up slacking on those projects because they don't really respect the photographers as much as the shooters who have developed an eye. I've seen it on the other side: where makeup artists or stylists want to hire me to improve their book and I think "fuck no! If your work was good we'd just collaborate together or we'd be on a job together!"

Jan 13 13 01:31 am Link

Photographer

JustinAllenPhotography

Posts: 324

San Jose, California, US

i try and save images from gallaries like the ones listed below that stick out and after a while compose long lists and galleries of saved images and send them to models and tell them that these are my inspirations and to bring outfits like...

Females -

http://thechive.com/2013/01/12/hot-girl … -photos-9/

http://thechive.com/2013/01/10/burning- … 39-photos/

http://thechive.com/2013/01/10/as-long- … 36-photos/

http://thechive.com/2013/01/08/four-eye … 33-photos/

Males -

http://theberry.com/2013/01/03/stuff-i- … photos-16/


for my in a field styled shoot i might tell a female to bring...

White Dress, Black Dress, Red Dress – more the better!
Pencil Dress / Flow-y Dress
Lace Top / flannel / different types of tops
Long jeans
Daisy Dukes
Bathing suit bottoms and tops (black or red)
Black/Red/Crème colored bra
Thick belts and accessories
Heals Black + what other colors you think match an outfit
Long socks! Knee high ones

Jan 13 13 01:39 am Link