As a fashion photographer based in New York City, Matthew Mills knows a thing or two about how to pull off the perfect fashion shoot. Here, he gives his advice about how to get started with this photographic field.
“As a fashion photographer, I strive to always reveal each model’s true beauty,” Matthew reveals. In this guide, he gives an insight into the approach that he takes to create artistic and timeless moments.
“The fashion photography niche allows you to be as free and creative as you like,” Matthew comments. “But the most important thing is to tell a story with your shoot”. Here, he offers some top tips that will set you in good stead.
Creating a Brief
Story and concept are at the heart of fashion photography. You need your photos to express a narrative. Imagining what you envisage then putting pen to paper and jotting down what’s inside your head is the starting point. Find the threads running between your ideas and then work out how they summarize the story you need to tell. This will ensure that consistency and cohesion run through every element of the project. It will also help to answer questions about hair, styling and makeup and direct the photo shoot’s overall aesthetic.
What Is The Shoot’s Purpose?
Why are you holding this shoot? Is it to build a portfolio? To submit to a publication? To appeal to new clients? For a creative experiment? Make sure that other team members know why you’re taking these photos.
Making Mood Boards
Find visual references that accompany your ideas and create a mood board. This will ensure the whole team works towards common goals. You can start making a mood board by taking some words from your brief then looking online for different images that put that vision into something more shareable. Print and online fashion magazines and even Pinterest or Instagram may be an excellent source of new ideas.
Creating Your Team
You’ll need at least two people on your team – yourself and your subject. You may need to find more collaborators. If you don’t know where to look for models you can go online. There are often local Facebook groups to join and websites dedicated to fashion photography shoots. You could even shoot your friends.
To approach new people that you want to work with, send your mood board and shoot brief over to them. Once you’ve built up an impressive portfolio, you might begin approaching modelling agencies, but if you’re just starting in your career, other emerging professionals may be your best bet.
Since clothes are the most important element of fashion photography you could benefit from a stylist onboard your team. They can put garments and outfits together that work with the concept and story you’ve created. Stylists can work closely with you to offer advice about how you can shoot the story and present the final product.
Scheduling Your Shoot
Logistics are the next step. The best times to shoot are either between 9 am – 1 pm or 2 pm – 6 pm. This will minimize your requirement to provide food and drinks for your team. Make sure that you’ve selected the right location. You may want to shoot on location or in a studio, and this may involve getting permissions in advance or renting a space. If you’re renting, make sure you’ve given yourself sufficient time for the shoot and the preparation beforehand so you’re not rushing to get through all the shots.
You’ll also need to consider washroom access and space where models can get ready and prepared for the shoot. Choosing a convenient location for everyone on your team is also important.
You’ll need to ensure you’ve brought all the essential equipment with you to the shoot. Be prepared just in case there is a technical failure – a second camera will avoid a wasted shooting session. If you’ll be using film, bring more rolls than you need. If you’re using a digital camera, format the memory cards and ensure your batteries are fully charged and that you’ve got spares just in case. If you’ll be renting kit, familiarise yourself with all the equipment first.
You may need a call sheet for your shoot containing all of the key information like who will be on your team, how they can be contacted, the time and place of the shoot and emergency details like medical information. This is an important step, especially if there are several models and team members involved in your fashion shoot.
On The Day
When the day of your shoot arrives, it’s important to have the right approach from the outset. You should talk to the team during the preparation before the shoot. Share information about the project and have a friendly attitude. This will ensure everyone is in a collaborative and receptive mood for the best possible experience.
After The Shoot
Once the shoot is over, your job hasn’t come to an end yet. You need to plug your memory cards into your PC straight away to make backups of all the images you’ve taken. If you’re using film, keep the rolls sealed and stored carefully away in a cool and dry space. Keeping those photographs safe couldn’t be more important.
Go through the photos and be very selective when you’re choosing which ones to edit. Only take the very best shots into editing with you. Make sure you’ve chosen the shots that can tell the story you’ve planned to capture right from the moment you began work on the brief.
Once you’ve finished editing, put the images in the right order that not only makes sense but also supports your storyline. It’s now time to go out and accomplish your goal, whether that be sharing the shoot on social media, sending it to publications or expanding your existing portfolio.
It can be a challenge to get any fashion photoshoot right the first time, but with the right planning, I guarantee that you’ll enjoy success.