Tuesday, January 13, 2015

8 steps to arranging a fashion editorial

If you're a fellow fashion photographer you'll have been in that usual situation where you had to arrange an editorial shoot all by yourself. This can be really empowering, fun and creative...but also extremely difficult.

I've been running workshops for a few years now, and the part I have observed that out-ways most other elements for the attendees is that they appreciate the fact that I have arranged everything, from the professional models, to the location and clothing, that they can just turn up, without the fear of a hundred thread emails to the team, and the dreaded prospect of paying for a location, and take photos. SO, I thought I would give some tips for those at the beginning of their fashion photography journey, tips on how it all comes together.

1. It all starts with an idea!

So you might be lucky and already have a grounded idea of what you want, a look and a feel and an atmosphere you want to achieve and that is the best start! It's good to have inspiration on your side! Ideas of clothing and hair and make up, this will all help get the best result, even if it doesn't turn out exactly how it is in your head. 

It doesn't have to be very specific, if could be just a vibe, 60's, or trashy, or colourful! It all starts with an idea.

2. Mood-board.

This is where something like Pinterest is one of the greatest creations on earth! Sign up, you won't regret it, and once you do hit Google HARD! It doesn't have to be Google, you can search right there on pinterest or explore some websites or magazines, but search a lot, because the more images you find, the more inspired you are, and the closer you are to collecting a clearer idea of what you want to achieve. This isn't just for you so you can ground your idea, it's to show your potential team, so they can get behind the idea too!

3. Searching for your team. 

This, from my experience, can be the hardest part, especially if you're new to the scene. So, who do you need on your team?

A Make Up Artist (or MUA)
A Hair Stylist
A Clothing Stylist

Where can you find all these people? Well one place that is invaluable to a budding fashion photographer is Model Mayhem, a place where you can connect with just about every creative you'll need to collaborate with to shoot a fashion story. This place is especially helpful for beginners but can still be a good way to connect at any professional stage. So have a look on the site! There are a couple of ways you can go about it, first is to browse stylists, MUA's and hair stylists and message them individually (you could also find their profiles and email them or Facebook them off the site), or you could post a casting which will be visible to all the above and wait hopefully for responses. I have done both in the past.

When seeking out a team remember to add your mood-board link, this will be where you sell the idea! You want the team to be as invested in the idea as you are.

4. Models.

Model Mayhem can be really great for this at the beginning, you can find non experienced and experienced models on here, but be cautious, models on this site and most that I have tried to arrange shoots with not through an agency have been known to by extremely flaky. You don't want, the morning of your shoot, to find your model suddenly MIA, so make sure they're serious about the shoot, get them to write in blood if you can. 

Agency models is really where you want to be of course, they, on the whole, know what they're doing and will turn up. So to get an agency model you need to get in with an agency. You will probably have to shoot tests with friends and model mayhem girls first to build up a portfolio, this way when you send emails to the agencies, you can include the images to give them an idea of what you can do. Agencies will send out girls just for tests, but when it comes to editorials, it's a good idea to send them the mood board as well, and even better, the name of the magazine you'll be submitting to. If the agency is on board they will then send a package of girls who are available, you choose who you like and let them know!

5. Location.

So now you have a team you need to figure out where you're gunna take these photos! This is a very important one for me, especially as a natural light photographer, a great locations can tell stories on their own, can reveal the most beautiful light, can bring out the best in you and your camera. 

Indoor locations can be tricky...because unless it's your own house, you've got to go about finding a location that is visually wonderful, but isn't yours. So, how? Think of friends houses, think of local buildings of interest...the library, the town hall etc. Or go bigger, search wedding venues, search for local manor houses and mansions and just send them an email. When I was starting out I emailed a local venue assuming I would have to pay through the nose to shoot there, turns out they let me for free, and over the next year or two I shot maybe 20 different shoots in that house! If they do require a rental fee, then see if you can barter only shooting there a few hours. Maybe ask the team if they're interested in pitching in to be able to shoot there...might be worth it.

Outside is obviously better, less restrictions. Of course the biggest restriction is the weather, something that is more of a problem in certain countries. I, for example, am from the UK, a place where there is equal chance of it raining in the summer as there is in the winter. It sucks. You have to either plan around it, or shoot through it.

6. Planning the date!

You have to arrange a date that everyone can do which can be stressful but once it's done do keep in mind that hair and make up can take an hour or two (longer if you get chatting, which I've been known to do). This is your idea, your vision, so you should do everything you can to make it happen, so if you drive, offer to pick the team up from the train or bus station. Do what you can.

7. The shoot.

So everyone is with you in one place! Keep your mood-board out and about, in everyone's faces including your own, to keep up the theme of the day. You want it to be ingrained in your head and the rest of the team whilst hair and make up is going on. 

You are shooting an editorial, which means that you want it to be picked up by a magazine, with this in mind remember not to shoot too many landscape images and nearly always keep your camera in portrait. Magazines print in pages so portrait framing works much better for them. 

In the end, it's usually mostly about the clothes, so try to remember that when shooting. Don't let the thought of it ruin the spirit of the theme, but try and show off those clothes!

The hair stylist, MUA and stylist will most likely be on hand monitoring the shots too, and if a dress hem is up, or a stray hair has gone array, they will probably need to dart in and out to fix these things, but do speak up if you wanted it that way. 

8. Submitting.

You might have prior correspondence with a magazine, you might have a magazine in mind to submit to, you might have no idea at all! Search online, see who fellow photographers you like have been featured in, search themes or look in a local news agents...you never know! It's usually best to have a magazine in mind before shooting, because each magazine has a style of their own and a style they prefer. 

When you submit try and come up with a title for the fashion story if you haven't already, and write down the full list of credits. 

Finally, do not share the images online. The magazine wants your photos to be exclusive, they don't want to publish them if they've been seen before. Sit tight and wait, you will get to share them eventually :)

So there you go! Most know this stuff, but I thought I would write it down for those fashion editorial creators that haven't quite got there yet!


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  2. About #4… Agency models is the dream… yes for fashion photographers. But in reality, at least a lot inspiring fashion photographers that start out not from or reside in NYC or other fashion capitals cannot get with agency models. The “agencies” outside of NYC honestly are extremely questionable “agencies” and I’d consider “scam-gencies”. And we should know a scamgency is basically an “agency” demanding money upfront vs. the real agencies out their take pay only when the model/worker is paid based on a commission to get their cost and to pay for any expenses for that model/worker. But honestly outside of NYC (in the US) its vast majority of scam artists and sadly are “photographers” praying on innocent inspiring models/actors/etc. to them pay for the photography but never get the work for the models/talent, etc.

    As for real agencies, I don’t think their clientele or target demo is honestly photographers, maybe working with them but as a client, doubtful. Most photographer already on a super tight budget, agencies require a minimum of 4-6 (half day) pay rates for their models, which is understandable since their commission is 10-15% so its more worth wild then. Hence why their clientele is advertising agencies or/and creative directors.