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Setting up a Fashion Shoot from Start to Finish

If you want to get started in fashion photography, then you need to know how to set up a shoot. From the first shoot that you organise, to your one hundredth, there might be a lot of variety. However, the basic set-up is the same, and it’s all about knowing what you need and getting it organised ahead of time. For premium fashion magazines like Vogue, nothing is left to chance: if they need one bag of clothes for the shoot, you can be sure that there are five bags along just in case. Adopt this way of thinking and you will never be caught out by something going wrong.

Here’s a general overview of how to organise your fashion shoot, from the start to the end. Bear in mind that whatever you are doing will be based around your concept: if you want to work with particular clothes, organise those first. If you want to shoot in a particular location, book that first. This article is based around the idea of wanting to shoot with a particular model, so that’s where we will start!

  1. Book your model

The first thing is to figure out a date and time that suits you and your model, or models. The more people you have involved, the more you will need to carefully organise so that everyone is satisfied. Be aware that models are generally busier at certain times of year, such as around your local Fashion Week. Decide your time and date, and at least a preliminary idea of your location as well. If you are working with an agency, discuss the idea of stand-ins with them, so that you have a back-up should one of your models fall ill or fail to show.

Where do you find models? Agencies are great for test shoots and for paid work. If you have no budget and can’t pitch it as a test to the agency, amateurs are your only option. You can find these on modelling sites and casting sites. Actors can be a good place to start too, as they are not professional models but do still know how to pose for the camera.


  1. Book the location

This may be as simple as shooting in your own studio space, or a public space where you do not need to book. If you want to hire a venue, however, get on this as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the less chance there is of a space being available. You might want to look at this at least two weeks before your shoot date to be sure.

To find a location, you can either do a web search or speak to people who know the area well. You can also post on photography forums or social media networks asking the question. The only way to get your budget down here is to shoot at home or your own studio, though you will still likely have to pay travel expenses for your team to get to you.


  1. Organise your team

Now it’s team to hire or book the rest of your team. Do you need an assistant? A make-up artist or hair stylist? A wardrobe stylist? All of these team members need to be booked in as soon as possible. Work from the most essential member of the shoot and then back to the least, so that you have the ones you really need set in stone as soon as you can.

Try to keep a good working relationship with these team members so you can call on them time and again. If you like someone and work well together, there’s not necessarily any need to change it up. Just be sure they are at the top of their game and have the right contacts to help you out.


  1. Sort the wardrobe

What are your models going to wear? This is really important – after all, it’s all about the fashion! If you need high street fashion, your models might be able to help with their own wardrobe. If you have a stylist, they can sort everything out for you. Otherwise, you need to organise delivery of pieces from a designer or boutique which will fit your models. Specify sizes ahead of time to be sure it will all fit.

If you want to use a certain designer, simply get in touch with them. You might be able to find contact details online, but the best way to make contacts is to go to trade shows and talk to them directly. This will give you the rapport and the email address of the right person!


  1. Plan your images

You may already have a moodboard set up – this would help with choosing your team, wardrobe, and location – but if not, now is the time to make one. The moodboard shows stylistic intentions for the clothing, poses, make-up and hair, and even the overall atmosphere of the images.

You can also storyboard specific poses at this time and set up how you want the final shots to look. You could also do small trials of lighting, make-up, and hair, to make sure that everything will look the way that you want it to on the day of the shoot.


  1. Chase up

At least a day or two before the shoot, make sure that you send out messages to the whole team confirming everything. You should have the wardrobe in your possession by this point and also have full confirmation of the venue. Once you have double checked with everyone, there are no excuses – no-shows on the day will not be tolerated!

Make sure everyone has your contact details too. If a model is stuck in traffic in the morning, it would be very reassuring to all involved if she could call you and let you know that she is still on the way.


  1. Shoot!

Now is the time for all that planning to pay off. Get model release forms signed and contracts for anyone that you are paying. After the shoot, remember to thank those involved, show them copies of the images, and get the wardrobe sent back to the designer or boutique. This will help maintain good relationships so it’s a little easier to organise the shoot next time!


If you’re a fashion photographer, share your top tips with us in the comments. How do you make sure a shoot will go smoothly?

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