When I did some mock-ups for Karen & Ian's wedding recently, I decided to have a go at a quick styling session as the theme of the flowers fitted perfectly with the style of an unused dress in my wardrobe. So, with half an hour to spare, I threw the dress on, headed to my usual portrait location (the stone wall in our car park) and got to grips with the self-timer on my camera. The shots aren't too bad considering how quickly I put things together and it was my first attempt at fashion styling with some of my floral designs. However, there are definitely things I could do to improve the shoot. So, with that in mind, here's what I learnt and my check-list for getting it right next time (based on 8 Steps to Arranging a Fashion Editorial Shoot by Alexandra Cameron)...
#1. Strike with Inspiration
I'm pretty sure that the images above worked because I had a clear vision of the look I was going for, I already had the perfect outfit in mind as well as a tried and tested portrait location. However, next time might not be so easy and it may take a little longer to figure out the clothing and hair style (a scruffy pin up worked for this shoot but probably won't be appropriate in some occasions).
#2. Collate a Vision Board
I didn't create a separate mood board for this shoot, however, at this point, I did have Pinterest to draw upon, using my + karen & ian + board, as well as inspiration from my relatively new + portraits + board. If I were to try a fashion shoot again I would definitely create a separate board full of colours, products and styling ideas. I think it would really help in terms of consolidating ideas and providing further inspiration for things like model poses and use of accessories.
#3. Hair, Make-up & Clothing do matter
I learnt that make up does matter (no more thinking I can get away with it!). The images above were taken without make up and therefore did require quite a lot of post editing! If you're lucky enough to have a make-up artist, hair dresser or stylist as friends, you may want to collaborate with them on a shoot...showcasing not just your flowers, but the whole wedding package that goes with them.
#4. You're now Model, Photographer & Stylist!
On larger scale shoots, there is usually a model, photographer and stylist, but when you're working small scale and starting out like me, you usually have to play the part of all 3! I'm really not the best model and most of the photos I take tend to have me scowling in them. However, I've got to grips with the self-timer function on my camera and can occasionally get a good shot in amongst the misses. I'm hopefully going to get a camera remote from Mr S for Christmas which will really help with taking more styling shots, self-portraits and for anything where camera shake may be an issue.
#5. Location, Location, Location
The scene you use for your styling shots should echo the overall story that you're trying to tell. I really love the old brick wall, covered in ivy, in our car park where we live. It was really easy, to just wander out on a quiet afternoon with camera and tripod at the ready to take these shots and not worry too much about passers by wondering what you're up to or if someone's going to knock your camera. I have used this space a couple of times now though (see my About photo to the right), so will need to find a new location for my next shoot. I think this derelict space would have been great, but they've since started building work there, so back to the drawing board...
#6. Make the time
The shoot above took very little time, as I didn't really bother with hair & make-up, I had a dress that I quickly put on and I had a location that was literally outside my front door. Next time I do a shoot, I would like to invest more time in the little details and my location may be much further afield. So, if you're planning a shoot get the date in your diary and let your other half know that for that afternoon you'll be engaged in a floral, styling session i.e. 'Do not disturb'. If they're interested in what you're doing, ask them to play Model or Photographer so you can really get your Stylist head on. You never know, they may be flattered to be your model or discover they can take a good photo, they may have so much fun they'll be begging to get in on the act with your next shoot!
#7. On the Day
Take the time to set-up each shot and try a few test shots to start with. Take off any accessories that you don't want to include (I forgot about my watch to start with), check that bra straps aren't on show (again something that I thought I could hide) and do a final check of the location (there's a twig by my foot in some of my shots which is a bit distracting). Also, remember to take a variety of different shots for different purposes as if you're shooting for a magazine they prefer to work with portrait images and it's also worth bearing in mind that the photos need to be exclusive (so no sharing sneaky peeks on Instagram!).
So, that's my list of things to remember for next time. I did spot this Online Fashion Styling Course at the London College of Fashion that I've saved to Evernote to explore further as it will go into things in far more depth.
Do you have any other nuggets of wisdom you could share? Please add to the comments below.
Would you love to collaborate with me on my next shoot (it is tiring playing all 3 jobs!)? I'd love to hear from you and my contact details can be found here.
Till next time xox