Barrie MacLeod Photography » Blog

Designer Photo-shoots – The Basics

The dynamics of a photoshoot for start-up designers
what are the requirements for a photoshoot ?


Having done many a fashion shoot for start-up designers and other junior designers I’ve decided to give you a few hints on how to proceed for your first photoshoot from a photographers point of view. By start-up designers I’m not only talking about cloths designers but also earring designers, fashion hat designers, lingerie , eyeglasses designers, jewellery designers, t-shirts and even housecoat designers.

Eyeglasses Fashion shoot:

In the future I will address each of the above in separate posts. Of course some of this advice also applies to store owners and anyone who wants to do advertise their products.

To start, here are some of the basic requirements. Some seem quite obvious which they are but they can also get quite complex depending what you want to achieve.

1- Your budget
2- The photographer
3- The model or models.
4- Stylist or styling. {+accessories]
5- Make-up artist.
6- Professional Hair stylist.
7- Photo-studio, outdoor locations, backup plans.


You can spend a LOT of time re-searching the above to find quality people. Even then you don’t really know how they will perform on-site but there is an easy solution to all of this and that is to get a photographer who can take care of all of these items for you. In the meantime you can focus on your designs and creativity and meeting your deadlines. Also getting 4 or 5 people together for a specific date isn’t always an easy task.
So the question now is, how does one get a good photographer? Well it starts with a Google search. Check out the photographer’s web sites on first two pages start phoning. The first question to ask is can they handle all of the above items for you? It might be a bit too early to ask for a quote at this point because the photographer will need to know much more information about the photo shoot. Ask if they can show you sample photography work they’ve done in your area of expertise. If you’re doing eyeglasses or women’s sunglasses ask for sample photos that they photographer has done. If you’re designing fashion hats , well ask for fashion hat photos. Verify the quality of the images. Do they suit your requirements? Next , don’t be shy and ask for several references. Hopefully the photographer can supply you a name of someone in your industry. Ask them how their shoot went. Ask them about post shoot service and results? Did they get the final photos on time? Did the photographer have the right attitude? Was he helpful? Did he listen to their requirements and suggestions? A good photographer will leave a solid trail of good references behind him/her. There will also be repeat clients.
The next item of course is budget. Well, there are many variables here. For example the number of items you want to shoot, it’s all relative. The number of items will determine the number of hours required. Remember that make-up and hair can take up to two hours. Other factors will be the type of publicity you want to do. Your requirements for photoshopping. One very important cost factor is the model{s} for the shoot. A model can make or break your shoot. An experienced agency model is the most expensive option. At least this will guarantee that they will show up on time for the shoot with the same hair color they had when you reviewed their photos. The agency will make sure of that. It’s a great way to start off your shoot day. {+wink+} They also pretty much guarantee the proper poses and the proper facial expressions to go with the pose. Body measurements are good as the agency has already spent a lot of time scouting and finding the best models. IF your budget doesn’t permit this type of pro model then this is where your experienced photographer steps in. If your photographer has sufficient experience and has been around for a while he can find you less expensive alternatives. Again, ask for photos. If you like the photos ask for a casting interview. If you’re going in for lower pricing be respectful of the persons time. Sometimes you get lucky and the photographer can find a model who is “in between” agencies or who has just retired. There are also some very good independent models out there. If you’re dealing with junior models don’t assume your photographer can make them pose and produce the right look for you on the fly. Strong poses and expressions require some training and experience.

Experienced model at work:

The rest of the team is also important. If you’re shooting close-ups of eyeglasses/sun glasses you will want a make-up artist who is very precise with her make-up. Each artist has their own particular qualities. Your photographer should know the traits of each one and choose accordingly for your photos.
If you’re shooting 30 pieces of clothing you will want speed but quality at the same time for the make-up. Consider a hair stylist and a make-up artist for greater speeds and touch-ups.
Another small tidbit of information is how does your photographer do his/her shoots ? I strongly suggest you ask for “LIVE” shooting which simply means that the photo images are displayed on a large monitor while the photographer shoots. This means that he has nothing to hide and feels confident about his lighting and quality of work. This also means that you get to watch your product “LIVE” as it comes out of the camera thus there is no surprises when you get home with your DVD. If there’s something not quite right with what you see you can stop the shoot and correct it immediately. If you’re a cloths designer bring a good dresser or someone you trust to do the dressing. In this manner you can closely monitor all image results rather than spend time in the dressing room. The resulting photo will reflect your work.
One final factor that is often overlooked is the photoshopping option.
A top photographer can provide you with good quality photographic images without any photoshopping. The fact is though is that 90% or more of images you see today in advertising are photoshopped. The simple reason is that that the impact is so much greater. If you’re still not convinced ask the photographer to provide you with a before and after photo of your product. You will then realize the impact. Photoshopping is much more than just fixing up a few skin blemishes or pimples. It has everything to do with contrast, lighting, colors and can even affect the overall mood of the photo.


Well this was supposed to be a small post but ended up much longer than expected. Actually there’s a whole lot more to cover than what is here. I will follow up with smaller posts about individual aspects of the above post.




Misc photos:

Fashion head pieces done by junior and pro model: