One of the things I love the most about designing my photo shoots is the styling piece. As someone who was in front of the camera for most of my previous life I can tell you that many shooters tell their clients to show up on shoot day with their favorite clothes and then whatever happens happens. I have never ever worked that way. Here’s why. What looks great in life may not read in photos and many times things you would never be caught dead in look amazing on camera.
Here are the key elements I always consider when styling for picture
The Story is the where the process begins. It’s ground zero and where you decide what textures and colors are really going to support the story you’re trying to tell. You need to ask yourself what vibe you are trying to create: Is it mysterious? Credible? Provocative? Inspirational? The promise of luxury? I always ask myself, what am I trying to create? What do people need to get right away when they encounter this image? What do I want them to feel?
The backdrop is always a huge part of the styling of a shoot. In fact, I always choose my locations before I style. They are the setting for the story. I spend alot of time studying the textures and colors closest and furthest away from where I will be shooting and keep them in mind when choosing colors and textures that will compliment and pop in the location. It drives me nuts when I see images where this hasn’t been taken into consideration. The colors feel off, out of context and it’s hard to tell what the focus of the story really is.
Before showing up for a shoot always ask the photographer where you will be shooting. Even better ask for pictures. Look at all the colors and textures. For instance if shooting in nature (unless it’s high concept ) I would probably stick with natural fabrics and earth tones. And if you’re shooting in a glam location I would nix the denim and go with something more red carpet ready.
This includes skin tone, hair length, color and texture, height and body type. Many people stay in a style comfort zone for years. So much so that they stop seeing the possibilities of what could be. I like to waken my clients up to unexplored territory. This often is about embracing body type and allowing themselves to be really seen.
Color is also a big part of that and can be really be a source of inspiration long after the shoot. The trick is to style with colors and textures that not only make impact in terms of storytelling, but they also must flow with the backdrop and most importantly be flattering on your client. Ie if your racy but red just doesn’t work for you explore other warm impactful shades like yellow or gold.
When styling it’s very important to look at hair length. Does it flow with the silhouette? For instance if someone has really long hair I’d probably avoid a leather jacket as it would compete with the texture. And if I’m going boho chic with the styling I’d probably not go in that direction with someone who was rockin’ a pixie cut. It’s all about creating that balance.