Successful fashion stories are ones that flow in continuity – linking the clothes, location, posing, lighting subject and idea together. A large part of the puzzle is the creative team (hair, make-up, and wardrobe stylists) and choosing the right people for the job but there are many other factors that you have to consider when putting a shoot together. When I shot this editorial for Elle Singapore, planning was the key to creating a cohesive story.
When planning a shoot I like to be involved with the styling, especially when it comes to choosing the wardrobe. I work with my stylist while he/she speaks to various showrooms and they keep me updated on what’s available.
I rely on my creative team to deliver based on the inspiration, concepts and ideas I have given them. I expect that they will bring their own ideas to the table as well; it's a collaborative process after all. However, in order to keep continuity on a fashion shoot – the team must agree on ideas, whether it be hair/make-up, styling choices, and on certain shoots - the choice of location, props and casting of the subject.
Doing this ahead of time gives me an idea of how the shoot can flow and enables me to move forward and decide on locations, studios and casting. Not every shoot works in this order, however, for example - sometimes a client will commission you to shoot an editorial or campaign when they've already finished production. In this case, I get as much information about the shoot as possible - mood boards, visual ideas, lighting references, and possible clothing choices. By doing so, I can make the story as cohesive as possible on the day of the shoot through lighting, posing and overall flow of the story that the client wants.
Lighting and posing are also key elements in creating continuity in a fashion story – both need to link with the story you are trying to create and enhance the clothing – not distract from it. Posing should always compliment the styling – if you’re shooting an editorial story with flowing dresses and tulle, add movement, and keep that idea going for the rest of the shots. Clothing is key. Think about the hero of your shot – is it the make up, jewelry or clothing? What posing and lighting will best enhance it?
Like everything, there are exceptions when it comes to flow in stories and some of the most successful photographers break the rules (for example, by mixing up locations, different subjects and mixing outfits from one shot to another. it works for them because they understand how to sell their idea. They understand their audience and why it works for them. Practice is key. When many fashion photographers start out, the biggest mistake they make is being too excited and having too many ideas and not understanding the correlation between all of the shoot elements. Fashion editorials should flow over the pages of the magazine and not feel displaced. One rule I live by when choosing what images to use in a layout is - if an image feels out of place, it usually is. Having focus is important.
Remember - If a fashion story has no theme or obvious story, the photographer will find it hard to create a series of images that link together - ultimately resulting in confusion from the viewer or client. Whether you are shooting fun editorial stories or campaigns/look books for fashion brands - the message needs to be clear. Ultimately, the end goal is to sell clothing and/or a lifestyle, no matter whether the story you tell is real or a fantasy.
- Plan an overall theme or story
- Use current trends to inspire your hair/make-up styling
- Create a storyboard to help guide you on your shoot
- Get an experienced stylist - they will understand how to keep the wardrobe cohesive. If styling yourself, be aware of current fashion trends.
- Think about your link between subject, clothing and theme.
- Plan your lighting around your story & the clothing – does it enhance the mood of the shoot or does it distract?
- Plan your location around your overall theme - how does it relate to the story subject and clothing?
- Posing should enhance your theme not distract. How do the posing choices impact the emotion or message?
- Use props or sets to enhance to create visual interest and to enhance storytelling in the studio
Model - Anja Konstantinova @ Premier London
Styling - Ozzy Shah @ Carol Hayes
Make Up - Marco Antonio
Hair - Craig Marsden
Retouching - Ashlee Gray