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8 Steps to Arranging a Fashion Editorial Shoot

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Feathers finished

If you’re a fellow fashion photographer, you have probably been in that usual situation in which you have to arrange an editorial shoot all by yourself. This can be really empowering, fun and creative… but also extremely difficult.

I’ve been running workshops for a few years now, and the part I have observed that outweighs most other elements for the attendees is that they appreciate the fact that I have arranged everything, from the professional models to the location and clothing. That they can just turn up — without the fear of hundred-thread emails to the team and the dreaded prospect of paying for a location — and take photos.

So, I thought I would give some tips for those at the beginning of their fashion photography journey — tips on how it all comes together.

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#1. It All Starts with an Idea

So you might be lucky and already have a grounded idea of what you want: a look, a feel, and an atmosphere you want to achieve, and that’s the best start! It’s good to have inspiration on your side! Ideas of clothing, hair and make up will all help get the best result, even if it doesn’t turn out exactly how it is in your head.

It doesn’t have to be very specific, if could be just a vibe, 60’s, or trashy, or colourful! It all starts with an idea.

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#2. Mood-board

This is where something like Pinterest is one of the greatest creations on earth! Sign up, you won’t regret it, and once you do hit Google HARD!

It doesn’t have to be Google, you can search right there on Pinterest or explore some websites or magazines, but search a lot, because the more images you find, the more inspired you are, and the closer you are to collecting a clearer idea of what you want to achieve. This isn’t just for you so that you can ground your idea: it’s to show your potential team, so they can get behind the idea too!

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#3. Searching for Your Team

This, from my experience, can be the hardest part, especially if you’re new to the scene. So, who do you need on your team?

1. A Make Up Artist (or MUA)
2. A Hair Stylist
3. A Clothing Stylist

Where can you find all these people? Well one place that is invaluable to a budding fashion photographer is Model Mayhem, a place where you can connect with just about every creative you’ll need to collaborate with to shoot a fashion story. This place is especially helpful for beginners but can still be a good way to connect at any professional stage. So have a look on the site!

There are a couple of ways you can go about it. The first is to browse stylists, MUAs and hair stylists and message them individually (you could also find their profiles and email them or Facebook them off the site), or you could post a casting which will be visible to all the above and wait hopefully for responses. I have done both in the past.

When seeking out a team remember to add your mood-board link, this will be where you sell the idea! You want the team to be as invested in the idea as you are.

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#4. Models

Model Mayhem can be really great for this at the beginning, you can find non experienced and experienced models on here, but be cautious: models on this site (and most that I have tried to arrange shoots with outside of an agency) have often been extremely flaky. You don’t want, the morning of your shoot, to find your model suddenly MIA, so make sure they’re serious about the shoot. Get them to write it in blood if you can.

Agency models is really where you want to be of course. They, on the whole, know what they’re doing and will turn up. So to get an agency model you need to get in with an agency. You will probably have to shoot tests with friends and Model Mayhem girls first to build up a portfolio. This way when you send emails to the agencies, you can include the images to give them an idea of what you can do.

Agencies will send out girls just for tests, but when it comes to editorials, it’s a good idea to send them the mood board as well, and even better, the name of the magazine you’ll be submitting to. If the agency is on board they will then send a package of girls who are available, you choose who you like and let them know!

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#5. Location

So now you have a team you need to figure out where you’re going to take these photos! This is a very important one for me, especially as a natural light photographer. Great locations can tell stories on their own, can reveal the most beautiful light, and can bring out the best in you and your camera.

Indoor locations can be tricky because unless it’s your own house, you’ve got to go about finding a location that is visually wonderful, but isn’t yours. So, how? Think of friends houses and think of local buildings of interest (e.g. the library, the town hall, etc.).

Or go bigger: search wedding venues, search for local manor houses and mansions and just send them an email. When I was starting out I emailed a local venue assuming I would have to pay through the nose to shoot there. It turned out they let me shoot for free, and over the next year or two I shot maybe 20 different shoots in that house!

If they do require a rental fee, then see if you can barter only shooting there a few hours. Maybe ask the team if they’re interested in pitching in to be able to shoot there. It might be worth it.

Shooting outside will usually have less restrictions, with the biggest being the weather, something that is more of a problem in certain places. I, for example, am from the UK, a place where there is equal chance of it raining in the summer as there is in the winter. It sucks. You have to either plan around it, or shoot through it.

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#6. Planning the Date

You have to arrange a date that everyone can do. This can be stressful, and keep in mind that hair and make up can take an hour or two (longer if you start chatting, which I’ve been known to do). This is your idea, your vision, so you should do everything you can to make it happen. For example, if you drive, offer to pick the team up from the train or bus station. Do what you can.

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#7. The Shoot

So everyone is with you in one place! Keep your mood-board out and about, in everyone’s faces including your own, to keep up the theme of the day. You want it to be ingrained in your and the rest of the team’s heads whilst hair and make up is going on.

You are shooting an editorial, which means that you want it to be picked up by a magazine. With this in mind, remember not to shoot too many landscape images and nearly always keep your camera in portrait. Magazines print in pages so portrait framing works much better for them.

In the end, it’s usually mostly about the clothes, so try to remember that when shooting. Don’t let the thought of it ruin the spirit of the theme, but try and show off those clothes!

The hair stylist, MUA and stylist will most likely be on hand monitoring the shots too, and if a dress hem is up, or a stray hair has gone array, they will probably need to dart in and out to fix these things, but do speak up if you wanted it that way.

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#8. Submitting

You might have prior correspondence with a magazine, you might have a magazine in mind to submit to, or you might have no idea at all! Search online, see who fellow photographers you like have been featured in. Search themes or look in a local news agent… you never know! It’s usually best to have a magazine in mind before shooting, because each magazine has a style of their own and a style they prefer.

When you submit, try and come up with a title for the fashion story if you haven’t already, and write down the full list of credits.

Finally, do not share the images online. The magazine wants your photos to be exclusive, they don’t want to publish them if they’ve been seen before. Sit tight and wait, you will get to share them eventually.


So there you go! Most know this stuff is pretty basic, but I thought I would write it down for those fashion editorial creators that are just starting out.


About the author: Alexandra Cameron has been a professional freelancer for over 4 years with experience in weddings, live and promotional band photography, actor headshots, events, fashion, beauty and self-portraiture. Mostly though she is a dreamer. Visit her website here and her blog here. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article originally appeared here.

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