This blog post is an informative one about the planning and executing of a successful fashion editorial. I receive frequent messages about what needs to be planned when shooting an editorial quite often, so hopefully this will answer lots of those questions…
This is a step by step guide explaining how I plan and shoot a Fashion Editorial.
When you are commissioned to do a fashion photography spread, the idea or theme would normally be given by the editor of the magazine for a particular issue. The brief may simply be one word or a whole concept, and you then discuss the brief with the art director or editor as to how it should be interpreted. At this stage, you determine the ‘feel’ you want the photographs to have, such as whether you want the viewer to be excited or calm, to feel elated or melancholy or if the images are to be brightly coloured or muted perhaps. You decide what the brief means to you and how it would best describe your meaning within a fashion photograph. All the possibilities of the outcomes depend on the available budget.
Once all has been decided and a date has been set, it is important to get the necessary permissions and bookings. For example, if you are shooting in a location, like a bar, then you need the permission from the owner. Book the model from the model agency you are using. Book all the crew, such as make-up artist, hair stylist and if needed, assistants. Make sure the stylist has all she/he needs and booked for the day. Food and water are essential because nobody likes to work when they are tired and hungry. Music also helps to set the mood, so if you have some speakers bring them along and plug them to your computer or Ipod dock.
The stylist is the person who acquires the clothes and she/he contributes greatly to the development of the idea and concept. The stylist’s work is to pull the latest possible fashion clothes and accessorizes that are suitable for the brief. The magazine would want the stylist to acquire clothes from famous brand names, as it would have more prestige in the eyes of its readers and for future possible advertisers. With new magazines springing up every month, some magazines prefer new, up and coming designers to feature instead of those well known mega labels and designers. Personally, I don’t really mind what brands the clothes are as long as they fit the brief and more importantly, that they enhance how I want the photograph to look and help me create my story.
Casting of the model is most essential as it is the main factor that determines the feel of the pictures, no matter where and what clothes she/he will be wearing. The model defines who you are as a photographer and as a person. You are making a statement if you choose a voluptuous or a thin model, tall or short, intellectual or not so intellectual. Choosing your model is like choosing your friends, because they define your work. The best way I find to work with models is to send a email to your local booker (representative at a modeling agency) and ask them either who is testing or who is on stay. They should then send you a package of available models so make sure you have your concept ready to give them the best idea of what type of look you are interested in.
It is important to give a clear guidance as to your creative concept to the make-up artist and hair stylist. You must brief them on the project and ask for their contributions. A good conversation with the make-up artist and hair stylist is absolutely essential, and try to bring them into your project in the early stages. I regularly create a mood board so that team can get the feel right away of what we will be creating and what I expect each creative to bring to the table.
On the day of the shoot, keep everyone informed of the time schedule for the whole day. I tend to find that the best way to deal with a shoot day is by working backwards. Once you know the exact time in which you have to finish the shoot, then you work out exactly the time it takes to pack up everything. So now, you know the exact time you need to start packing which means that you know the time when you take the last photograph, so you work out how long it will take to photograph everything, and you repeat the same steps until you reach the arrival at the location. It is important to think on your feet as all the possible unforeseeable obstacles may occur during the day of the shoot.
While actually shooting, you have to look at the clothes, the location, the model, the lighting and arrange all these variables for to your liking. Ask the stylist, make-up artist and hair stylist to look at their particular area and ensure that the model looks her/his best while the photograph is being taken. I normally look at the model’s face for the expression that I want, so it is difficult to keep an eye on everything else, such as the clothes not tucked in properly or if the hair has somehow changed. It is important to have your crew focused on their individual jobs even throughout the shooting.
I hope you found this blog post useful in planning your editorials…