Fashion Photography Tips.
Some insight into the process...
Bentley - the epitome of all things luxuriously British , is premiering it’s first fragrance and I was entrusted with shooting the visual for this campaign. Set on a rooftop overlooking the British capital the image is an amalgam of those elusive and subtle qualities that has turned Great Britain into Cool Britannia.
How do You make an omelette without breaking the egg?
How does an iconic brand like Bentley project attitude, relevance and energy while still respecting it's heritage? Those where the questions that swirled around while we discussed the image that I had the pleasure to shoot recently for the premiere of Bentley’s first fragrance.
Who Does What During a Shooting?
Creative Director Torsten Birk-Schöps at KeKo envisioned a chic and timeless scenario where the London skyline was prominently displayed along with a Bentley Continental GT Coupe which was treated somewhat unceremonious, much like an umbrella, casually carried under the arm.
Male model Vegard, represented by Modelwerk took on the role of the eternal british gentleman - minus the bowler, projecting that effortless and timeless british chic that we all have come to aspire to.
Christian Stemmler, a longtime collaborator brought his styling expertise to the table, and Jochen Pahs was responsible for the grooming.
A Personal Fashion Shoot
Going into this project I really had no idea of what images would emerge, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to use a beautiful Katana - the Japanese Samurai's exquisitely designed sword, in the images. I'm usually looking for 1 or 2 small details that I want to get across and leave the rest, not to chance but to the mood of the day.
Fashion Images as Expression
If someone else would describe my images as "edgy elegant" I'd be very happy since this is a look that I'm aspiring to. In this case our team were free to do what we pleased and in the end the images came out better than I had hoped for.
The Fashion Model
As a fashion photographer I many times get questions about gear or other technical things, like lighting or what camera I'm using. I usually respond with that it doesn't really matter - what matters is what is in front of the camera, and more specifically who your models is.
I have even gone so far as to state that "Fashion photography lighting is overrated" (and yes, I really do mean what I say).
If you want to put it really simple you can say that anything else in your shooting is expendable, except for the model - even you, the photographer.
There is no question in my mind that during the production of your shooting you need to spend the most effort securing the most prestigious girl you or your client can afford.
Yes, I'm really serious about this. If you want to take a great fashion picture the only thing you need is a great model, the rest is really just icing on the cace.
I will end by giving you a real life example of how important the casting and choice of models are to brands and photographers.
In my work for cashmere label Stephan Boya we have consistently booked the same model, Michaela Bodenmiller, for over 7 seasons by now.
Why? Because she's the perfect spokesmodel for the brand. She comes off a supremely beautiful yet real girl - exactly what the label is all about.
The Studio - Set Up
While I still claim that you should concentrate your efforts on getting the absolute best model your client can afford there are of course other things that do matter during the typical fashion shooting.
On second place of importance is the ability of the photographer to work fast and smoothly and it's in this light I'd like to go into the idea of mastering a few lighting setups.
Basically the idea is to get them down so you can set up very quickly and get the shots you want. No experimentation allowed during the shooting, do that during your tests instead.
The Classic Look
This classic setup always works and I'd say about 70-80% of my images are shot with this setup or variations on it. Learn it and use it!
My "Black Box"
The "Black Box" setup is a setup I use when I want a natural, "non-flash" look in my images. With a bit of colored gel here and there it's easy to make this resemble natural daylight in a big open loft. This setup is very versatile and can be used both as flash-only, as well as using daylight-only in a big, bright daylight studio.
The two previous lighting setups both give a very natural and classic look. The next two setups are decidedly different. Here the lighting is front and center and demands attention from the viewer.
"Bad TV-series Lighting"
Is this good or bad lighting? Opinions are divided. Me myself has a soft spot for retro & kitsch images from older TV series - hence this lighting. Basically I just throw up the lights without any plan or deeper thoughts. Works really well on older, chiseled guys like Mads Mikkelsen.
I fell in love with the look of the ring flash while leafing through older fashion magazines from the 70' & 80's when it was used extensively. It works super well on guys, as it really chisels out their looks. However, don't be afraid on using this on girls if you want a high energy look.
Lights On the Floor
The technical part of this shooting ended up being fairly simple since the whole team had spent a considerable amount preparing and designing the lighting, set building and all the other photographic-specific elements. A row of open flash heads on the ground added some sophistication and slight mystery to the ambiance. One of my references for the lighting was having the feeling of a luxurious, lit up pool, at night…
I hope this quick sneak-peak has been useful, please drop a comment or share this page if you think other people will enjoy it.
The Mood Board - The Most Overlooked Item of a Successful Fashion Shooting
A mood board is a tool that creatives use to communicate their vision for a project or brand. If you Google it you'll most likely see this definition: "A Mood board is an arrangement of images, materials, pieces of text, etc. intended to evoke or project a particular style or concept. "we put together a mood board with key images and words that best convey the essence of the brand"
There are many benefits of using a moodboard; It's much easier to get your idea and vision across when you actually use images - remember - an image says more than a thousand words.
Also, a mood board will act as an insurance of sorts, once you and your client have nailed down the lok it's easier to steer people back to the original vision by simply directing their attention back onto the agreed on looks.
Brands can also easily communicate their core to their own teamds, staff, creatives and collaborators by using a mood board "We're about this and we stand for this..."
Below some of the best tools for creating mood boards. If you are happy keeping the boards to yourself any of my three suggestions will work fine but if you need to share the mods with a client or colleagues only Pinterest and GoMoodbard will work, sorry Designspiration. While you'll find amazing inspirational content on Designspiration the lack of sharing capabilities is a big drawback.