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Tips for Tossing a Dress for a Photoshoot

This is a guest post courtesy of Jodie Jolley of Aven Willow Studios

One thing that we are known for at Aven Willow Studios is our gorgeous dress tossing portraits that have a beautiful dancing movement around our beautifully posed clients. Almost every client of mine pulls out their phone at their booking appointment with their favorite tossed dress portraits of ours saved. They have been dreaming of being that gorgeous flowing goddess from the moment they saw those images! It’s not only an incredibly fun and exciting part of the session experience for the client but the extra glamorous look in the final product makes that portrait have the magazine-worthy look that your client will die for every single time. From flowy dresses to fabric pieces, you can toss anything to add a gorgeous and glamorous movement to your client’s gallery.

Before Tossing:
Before you start capturing your beautiful dress tosses, here are some things to keep in mind.

● You want your final image to be “believable”. What that means is don’t get too caught up in just your fabric tossing and forget about the posing of your model. Your model needs movement in their body as well, whether that is through arm placement, stepping forward, blowing of the hair, or a slight twist to the side. Make the movement in her dress believable to her pose so that it makes sense to the viewer.

● You can use any number of assistants when it comes to tossing. I’ve had my full team tossing, my client’s husband or mom tossing, or even just had my client toss her own dress so it is always doable!

● Think about your wardrobe! Lighter fabrics are always easier to toss and have a nice fall down for you to capture. Sometimes I also use a fan blowing on my client so the lighter the fabric the better for catching that little bit of wind to help lift the fabric. I have tossed heavy sequin fabrics before too so it’s doable but harder to make believable.

● Not all of my tossing portraits are made from one perfect shot. I love when I get it in one shot but a good amount of time I end up doing a composite with two images; the perfect pose of my client and then the perfect dress toss shot.

● You will want to capture the toss a second after your client or assistants release to get the full look of the toss. Think 1,2, toss, CLICK.

● Have fun with it! This is part of the “Model for a Day” experience for your client and they have more than likely never had such a glamorous treatment before!

No Assistant:
A lot of times a photographer does not have a whole team with them at their sessions and still would love to add dress tossing into their client’s gallery. If this is the category you usually fit into then you can have your client give their own dress a toss to get some beautiful movement in
their portraits. Simply have them hold one side of their gown or fabric, pose them, and then count to three and have them release the fabric as a toss to their side. If you are in a studio you can use a floor fan directed towards your client in the desired direction for your vision to help
catch the toss and carry your fabric more. You will more than likely need to repeat this form of tossing more times to capture the perfect shots than if you had an assistant because your model will more than likely break their pose as they focus on tossing. If you are wanting to capture a
more full fabric look using this form of tossing then have them toss on their right side and then their left side and put them all together in photoshop as a composite.

1 Assistant:

When you have one assistant available to toss the dress for you then you can help your client stay well focused on their pose while your assistant is focusing on the toss. Your assistant can be a team member, spouse of your client, or even an older child that is at the session with your client. It is very easy to give direction to them and get a great outcome! I like to direct my assistant to toss in a way that fits my vision for that specific portrait. I like my assistants to do a little bit more of a rounded swirl to their toss personally. You want the images to always look believable so pulling the fabric straight out to the side and tossing it straight up doesn’t really make sense to the viewer so I don’t have it tossed that way. I like my toss to be moving around my client or coming slightly in front of her, behind her, or in one direction to help it look like she is spinning or dancing. Have your assistant repeat the toss until you have several to choose from when editing. Remember to pay attention to the client’s pose though throughout the series so that it makes sense and is believable. If it is looking like the dress is spinning around and she is dancing in the picture then blow that hair and make it look like there is a beautiful movement going on where it would be in real life.

More than 1 Assistant:

When you have more than one assistant available then tossing can get super crazy and super fun! I can honestly say that my team seems to get a spark of excitement in their eye every time I say “Girls, we’re going to toss this!”. When I have multiple assistants I want them to be able to
have full control of their fabrics behavior so I tend to not blow the dress with a floor fan but use more of a focused airflow from a hairdryer just in the client’s hair if needed. I’ve had 3 assistants before tossing several parts of a dress on both sides and got an amazing dancing movement for my client. To get the desired look you are wanting you can even have your
assistants all toss their fabrics a half a second after each other and really get a beautiful cascading effect in the toss. Give your team direction though so that you have the finished look you are wanting and not just a huge amount of floating fabric all over your client. Keep making little tweaks and changes to the tossing until it is exactly how you want it and how your clients are going to love it. Get creative and have fun!

This article was featured in Summerana Magazine | September 2020 issue

16 thoughts on “Tips for Tossing a Dress for a Photoshoot”

  1. This is awesome! So much details. It’s really tricky tossing a dress for the photoshoot. But the techniques you’ve said will help a lot to get betterment when tossing dress and find a gorgeous dress picture.

  2. Hi,
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  3. So much details. It’s really tricky tossing a dress for the photoshoot. But the techniques you’ve said will help a lot to get betterment when tossing dress and find a gorgeous dress picture.

  4. Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and found the photographs beautiful. I also appreciate your photography. You’re very welcome, and I hope to continue to enjoy your content in the future.

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