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The Necessities of Shooting a Fashion Editorial

Updated on May 3, 2015


Even for seasoned fashion photographers, the conceptualization phase is often the most challenging, especially now that many upcoming photographers are coming up with revolutionary ideas that become very popular. Finding inspiration is easy for some, but not for all. For many photographers this is the most difficult part. Nevertheless, once the ideas has materialized, the stress of coming up with a concept is replaced by the excitement of developing it and making plans for its execution.

Preparing for the logistical requirements

Photographers assigned to complete a fashion photography spread needs to accomplish specific preparations related to the booking of the location. For instance, if the concept requires a certain private venue in New York City, then the photographer must get permission from the owner of the place. If the chosen venue is a public place or a particular building of interest, then permits must be secured from the authorities. Other needs such as additional props, equipment, food and other essentials for the entire crew must also be listed down.

At the initial stage of the project, a budget must also be set. All the expenses ought to be enumerated; including venue and equipment rentals, expenses incurred in securing permits, crew salaries, fees for models and consultants, and expected expenses for food for all the people involved during the photo shoot.

 Keep it interesting
Keep it interesting

Location of the shoot

When the concept does not require natural light, or a specific type of landscape, a studio or modified warehouse can be used. Preparations would require a list of needed props and, materials, and perhaps additional lighting equipment. However, it’s a bit more complicated for outdoor photo shoots. If the photographer requires natural lighting for the photo fashion editorial shoot, then the choice of location is critical. Aside from securing a booking for the area, the time of the day and weather conditions factor in. Additional considerations are the type of camera and accessories to be used depending on the specific requirements of the location.

With regard to an outdoor shoot, is also advisable to have a plan B ready, just in case the weather makes a turn for the worst. It would be a huge waste of time and resources if everyone is there and ready, and all permits and rentals are secured, only to postpone the shoot because the weather is not cooperative.

 Composition is everything
Composition is everything


The photographer’s model is at the centerpiece of the editorial shoot. The model embodies the concept and communicates the message that the photographer wants to send. Casting a model is one of the key activities during the preparatory phase. He or she must be an excellent representative of the ideals that the photographer stands for. In addition, the model’s previous experience is not as important as his or her ability to express the emotion that the photographer requires for a specific scene.

Working with an agency can speed up the search process. A photographer can provide the agency with more information about the concept so that they can offer a selection of models that possess the capabilities required. Editorial pieces are quite challenging in terms of execution, and it becomes easier for the photographer to prepare for the shoot if help is available. Once the selection from the agency is on hand, the photographer can make the choice and move onward to fulfilling other requirements during the preparatory phase.

 Finding the light
Finding the light

Organizing the team

Photographers are not just looking for effective and talented team members. They also want to find people who are as invested in the idea as they are. The model may be at the center of an editorial shoot, but many other people are involved so that the photographer’s concept is realized. One of the key people involved in a photo shoot is the stylist. The contributions of a capable stylist play an important role in further development of the concept. The main role of the stylist is to dress the models who will take part in the photo shoot. Another key member of the team is the make-up artist, who must work closely with the photographer so that the model’s appearance is in accordance with the photographer’s concept, and complements the model’s attire as well. A hair stylist must also be found to work with the make-up artist and clothing stylist so that the model looks perfect for the role that he or she is expected to play.

Many experienced independent clothing stylists, make-up artists, and hair stylists are available for hire, but photographers may also opt to collaborate with an agency to help them connect with the kind of professionals that they want to work with. Online platforms are available to photographers currently searching for team members. Aside from social media networks, there are websites and dedicated pages that offer opportunities for fashion photographers to come in contact with people whom they are searching for. The profiles of the candidates are readily accessible, and the photographer may take advantage of the available means of communicating with people that they hope to collaborate with in the future.

The day of the shoot

A few days before the day of the shoot, everyone involved ought to be given copy of the full itinerary of activities. In this way, on the day itself, the photo shoot can proceed on time. If the venue is located elsewhere, enough time must be allotted for travel. In addition, it takes time to unpack materials and equipment, and time is also needed to fine-tune the settings of a set-up required by the photographer. The needs of the models and the rest of the team must also be laid out and prepared so that the key playershave easy access to all the stuff that they would need to use to prepare the models and the set-up itself.

One of the most critical aspects to schedule is preparation of themodels. The stylists and make-up artists should be ready to do their work, allotting adequate time for fulfillment of the hair and make-up requirements before the time of the photo shoot itself. This is very important if the venue only allows the team access for a limited period of time. Once all the equipment and materials have been set up according to plan, the photographer can start shooting pictures. The photo shoot becomes more complicated when there is more than one outfit change, and if there are multiple set-ups. The time for changes in make-up and attire must be factored in, especially if the concept requires a specific time of day or weather condition.

Lastly, as the photographer must be prepared with methods to set the mood for the models, such as for instance playing the right kind of music. If the photographer is working on a high-energy and dynamic concept, then the photographer must find ways to bring out the emotion that he or she wants the model to manifest. When all the gears are turning smoothly, and everyone knows what to do and when to do it, delays can be avoided. The shoot can proceed as scheduled, and wrap up at the expected hour.


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