So as most of you know, I am not only a fashion blogger, but also an aspiring editorial fashion stylist. I try to add to my styling portfolio whenever I can, so that when the day comes for me to apply to a job at a fashion magazine, I’ll have something to show. Here’s how I make it all happen!
Step One | Come Up With a Concept
As ideas come to me for a location or styling an outfit, I’ll jot them down even if I don’t have a shoot planned. That way, when I am ready to shoot, I can pick from my list of pre-made ideas. When I’ve run out of potential concepts, I’ll look for inspiration. I usually turn to magazine editorials, or art and fashion books, how people are wearing things on the street, political or social movements, etc. If I’m having stylist’s block, I’ll ask the model or photographer if they have any ideas they’ve always wanted to realize.
Example: Diversity in the fashion industry isn’t as prevalent as I would like, so I wanted to do a shoot with all female models. Not just that, I wanted them to emulate a group of best girlfriends who all dressed fantastically, but with their own personal style. The theme in a phrase would be “Black Girl Magic. #Bomb BFF #BlackisBeautiful #SquadGoals”
Step Two | Create a Visual
Once I have my concept, I try to visualize it for myself, and so my team can all be on the same page. I use Pinterest as my digital folder, and scour the web for images that capture the essence of my idea. For the “Black Girl Magic” shoot, I first found pose ideas for groups of girls to do. And since I wanted each girl to have her own individual style, I mapped out what that looked like. There were four models. I wanted one to have a feminine, but bookish look, another to be more boho, the next to be the clear fashionista of the group, and the last to be the eccentric one. I looked for images that resembled these four styles and added them to my Pinterest board.
Step Three | Find My Team
Currently I have a list of photographers, hair/makeup professionals, models, and boutiques/clothing stores that I’ve either worked with in the past OR I’ve reached out to and they said they’d love to work with me in the future. It’s important to network! I have yet to work with the exact same team on a photoshoot. There’s always either different models, or a new photographer, etc. I like to spice things up and add diversity to my portfolio. Often times I am not only styling the shoot, but I am creatively directing it. What I look for are people with modeling experience, exceptional photographers with great portfolios, hair and makeup professionals who can do basic and complex looks (depending on the theme), and clothes that coincide effortlessly with the concept.
It can be a lot to balance. The hardest part is scheduling. With a team of anywhere between 3 and 15 people, that’s a lot of calendars to match up. If you have a great team, it will be reflected in the photos. I’ve definitely worked with people in the past whom I won’t be working with again, but then there are people who become my go-to’s when I need them.
Step Four | Create the Looks
The most important part of my job as a stylist! Actually creating the looks. This involves me doing some background research on the boutique I chose to team up with. If they have an online store, I may pre select clothes from the website and add them to the Pinterest board, but it’s best to go into their Brick-and-Mortar store if they have one. This way, I can feel the fabric, try on the clothes myself, and make sure they’re what I am looking for. Let’s take the “Black Girl Magic” shoot as an example again. I partnered with The Pink Tulip Club Boutique for that shoot. I spent about an hour roaming the store and pulling two outfits each for four models. As I roamed, I needed to keep in mind that I wanted each girl to represent a certain style. Since none of the girls in this shoot were over 5’8, I had to keep in mind the fit of the clothes and who would look best in which look.
Once all the clothes were pulled, I started to create outfits. I teamed a pair of pants, and a top with a jacket for example, took pictures, and then made a note of which accessories would work best with them (the accessories and shoes I ended up asking the models to bring of their own).
If I am borrowing clothes from a store, I need to make sure I count how many items I took out, and get a photo of each thing so I can return everything properly. It’s a lot of responsibility to take out thousands of dollars worth of clothes that need to be sold upon return.
Step Five | Fittings + Strategy
Sometimes I’ll have the models meet me to try on all of clothes before we shoot, to make sure I got the right sizes. Other times, I just have to make my best guess based off the measurements they gave me and hope it works shoot day. Stylists can use things like clips to adjust too big clothing though in case something doesn’t quite work out as intended.
Once all of the outfits are solidified, I like to create a document on InDesign that lays out what each model is wearing and what she needs to bring. It’s at this stage that I also think of hair/makeup ideas to coincide with the outfits, and add it to the document. I save this as a PDF and send it out to everyone involved so there’s no misunderstanding.
Step Six | Time to Shoot
Finally! Shoot day. I’ll haul all the clothes in my car and take them on location. Sometimes its studio, other times I like to go outside. Either way, my job for the day is to make sure the models look great and help them get dressed so that makeup doesn’t get on the clothing, keep track of the clothes, make sure everything stays neat and organized, and check in on my teammates to see if everything is coming together as planned.
Step Seven | Return Clothes + Wait to Receive Photos
I try my best to return the clothes I borrowed the very next day, or a few days after we shoot. I make sure all the tags are still on them, there aren’t any stains or broken zippers, etc. After that, the only thing left to do is wait for the edited photos. Depending on the photographer, I may get photos back in a day or two, or in several weeks to months. One photoshoot I did, I have yet to receive photos from, and that was over two years ago (I can probably let that one go)! Waiting can be frustrating, because without the photos did it even really happen? Plus everyone wants to start sharing them and showcase their modeling/hair and makeup skills, etc.
Step Eight | Publish
Once I receive the photos back, I go through them all selecting my favorites to post to social media, my styling portfolio, and anywhere else I can think of. This is my favorite part! I love seeing all of our hard work captured in a beautiful image. It’s a very rewarding feeling.
Step Nine | Repeat
And then I do it all over again! I try to do a new shoot at least once a month.
I hope this was interesting to read! If you or someone you know wants to be styled in an editorial photoshoot by me, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if you’d like for me to work with you one-on-one be sure to check out my personal styling services. We can do a complete style makeover, personal shopping, planning an outfit for a particular occasion, etc.