Tag Archives: editorial

June Fifth by Bonny Sethi photo copyright Aloha Lavina

10 Things to Remember When You’re Shooting Clothing

I love dresses. Dresses that drape, dresses that dance with color. Dresses with texture, and flow.

Even though it takes a lot of time, preparation and doesn’t make me rich, I love shooting clothing, especially couture. Most of my editorial work is about clothing.

There is something fascinating about the creativity of a designer and how she combines color, texture and shape to make things of beauty that people can wear. And spending time shooting these creations inspire me every single time.

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years.

1. If you’re shooting clothing, you must be shooting color.

Clothing is almost always shot in color. If the client worked hard to make a fabric a certain color, that color needs to be the same as the original in all of the photos of the clothes. So it’s important to make sure you capture the color exactly as it is in real life.

How would color change in a photograph? There are a few ways. One is through the white balance you use. Sometimes you might prefer to use Cloudy for the warmth it exudes. But this WB setting may change the way the colors look, making them warmer.

Another way color might change in your photo is the lighting you use. Sometimes, you might balance the light by using gels, just to make sure the clothing stays the same color in the photograph as it is in reality.

Still another way a photographer might change clothing color, maybe even inadvertently, is through post-processing. When doing post work for clothing, always refer to the original color of the clothes so you don’t misrepresent the product.

June Fifth by Bonny Sethi photo by Aloha Lavina

Show off the color in those clothes. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

 2. Show the cut of the clothes.

Another creative decision the designer makes is the way the dress was cut. Paying attention to the specific way the clothing is cut and pieced together is another thing a photographer has to do, to make sure the client is happy with the results.

3. Texture is also important to show.

There are ways to light specific surfaces so that they show up their natural grain or texture. It’s important to know the angles of light and how they affect different surfaces. A great resource to study about angles of light is the book Light Science and Magic. Even if I’m not much of a geek, I love this book for what it taught me about how light affects surfaces and how it behaves on different ones.

4. You’re shooting how the clothes move.

The difference between images for catalogs and images for editorial assignments sometimes lie in the creative license a photographer might receive. In catalogs, most of the poses and lighting is very consistent. In editorial work, the clothing is mostly like wearable art, and the art direction is a little more creative.

It’s important to showcase how the clothing moves. Especially in a still photo, this dynamism can be important to add energy to the image.

June Fifth by Bonny Sethi photo copyright Aloha Lavina

Movement or its illusion is often a great way to show off clothing. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

5. Even if the models are beautiful, they mustn’t overpower the clothes’ beauty.

Of course, you’re shooting a beautiful person wearing beautiful clothing. But remember that what you’re really selling is the clothing or the idea behind it. Focusing on the clothing rather than the face of the person wearing it makes sure that in the images, your model doesn’t overpower your clothing.

Of course, it might depend on the client’s creative brief. Some clients want a sense of something in the imagery–maybe an attitude or a feeling, and merely a suggestion of the clothing. This is important to clarify before you start planning for the shoot.

6. Show off the clothes.

The clothes are beautiful. Don’t hide them in your shots.

7. Remember the market.

It’s always good to ask about the target market of your client. If they are conservative, maybe overly sexy poses might not work. If they are a little adventurous, you might consider different poses than if they were less so.

8. Remember the brand.

Always ask what the client thinks of their brand. Even if you think you know the brand, the one source for your perception of how to make the imagery is the client or designer. Having this knowledge avoids photos the client might find mismatched to what they had in mind.

9. One lighting setup doesn’t fit all.

Everything works together for the purpose of the image. The lighting depends on a lot of factors. The clothing itself, mentioned earlier in this article, as well as the model, the location….It’s great to have a plan, but it’s also good to be flexible in case for instance, the ambient light at the location gives you added impact. Preparing well will serve you to make those decisions when you’re actually on set.

June Fifth by Bonny Sethi Copyright Aloha Lavina

One lighting setup doesn't fit all situations. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

10. Know the purpose for the photos.

It’s good to vary the composition of the photos. Often times, we might think to make our photos edgy by putting the model on the edge, following the popular rule of thirds. But sometimes, you need centered photos, too. Especially when one of your photos might become a cover, centered gives space for the text that goes into the cover of a print magazine. Another consideration is the client’s logo or any other text that might be added onto the photo later when it is prepared for print. Knowing the purposes of the photos, and changing up your composition is a good tip to follow to suit the assignment in various ways.

Now it’s your turn.

What tips would you give to make stunning shots of clothing?

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How to Make the Most of Your Photographer

Some of photoshoots require more time invested, yet they remain the most memorable and successful.

Investing time, thought and effort into a project pays dividends for the client. You not only get your money’s worth from all the people you’ve hired, but you also build strong relationships that can only enhance your brand. Giving time, thought and energy into a collaborative effort can create win-win situations that serve as fertile ground for growth, be it for the client or the creative team.

Here are some tips from a photographer’s point of view.

1. Communicate ideas as much as possible.


Communication is key to collaborative creativity. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

Time spent in planning a photoshoot is time wisely invested. For a photographer, information about the concepts the client has in mind, the colors and shapes and textures of the products she is shooting will help in the creative decisions. For example, light reflecting off a smooth surface behaves differently from light reflecting off a rough surface. If your photographer knows what materials you used to make your product, he or she can decide what sort of lighting suits that product. Similarly, a concept cannot be translated into an image unless the photographer has all the information necessary to ‘form a picture’ of what the client has in mind. Guessing or leaving this thinking process to the last minute can greatly impair the photoshoot’s effectiveness from lack of time to think through the concept and the added pressure of  reconciling a lot of novel elements in the process.

2. Give the photographer a lot of chances to make good decisions.

A lot of considerations go into a photo session. One of the most important ones is lighting, especially when there are models involved in the shoot. Different facial structures require different lighting set ups to either hide or show certain features. Introducing your photographer to your models before the shoot can help the photographer to think of the lighting decisions for each model’s facial structure and build. Allowing for this to happen by investing time in a meeting between the models and photographer can benefit your brand because the photographer is given more chances to succeed in making images that are interesting and propel the ideas behind your brand.

Different face structures require different lighting setups. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

3. Organize the materials for the shoot.

Photographers pack with great care. A lot of photogs clean their equipment, follow long packing lists, and prepare a lot of small items that can make a difference between a good shot and a great shot. A good photog knows that preparation saves a lot of time; knowing where to reach in the bag when needing something is efficient and good practice.

In the same way, organizing the clothing or accessories can help a photoshoot move along smoothly. For example, organizing the clothes into sets and labeling them clearly with models’ names in the order of the shoot can really speed up the work. Because some shoots require a lot of moving and changing of lighting equipment, being ready with the clothing and accessories gives the creative people in your team more time to take so they can create their magic for you.

4. Trust the creativity of your team

You hired the makeup artist whom you thought would interpret the concept well and has great skills to execute it in makeup or hair. You hired the photographer whose vision and images match your brand’s beauty.

You must trust their creativity, skill and vision, right? You hired them, not someone else.

In a moment of creativity, the creative person is drawn into flow, a state of seemingly effortless innovation. Trusting this process, for many, have produced great leaps in executing a vision. Interrupting it will stilt the creativity and ‘burst the bubble’ of concentration, and it is a difficult thing to re-enter at will. If you had planning sessions and every one in the team is conscious of the time you have to make the magic happen, trust that what the creators do, in their own separate domains of skill, are geared toward making beauty for your brand.

5. Respect talent and skill.

If everyone could do what any one else could do, all images would look the same. We would not have any moments when we look at a photo and our breath catches because it is just so what we wanted to say.

Respect a unique vision and the passion that creates it. Copyright Aloha Lavina.

The creative world is wonderful because each photographer, each makeup artist, pushes him or her self to do better, to learn something else. If you took this energy and passion and channeled it into your brand, you would have power indeed—power to distinguish your product from the others of the same kind, and power to make people look at your ad twice, catching their breath.

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Beneath the Glossy

Yesterday I came across this post by Fashion Photography Blog’s Melissa Rodwell, where she talks about being screwed by Flaunt Magazine. In her post, she talks about how she started her blog to make people aware of the real world behind the glossiness of fashion photography. She unveiled how editorial decisions—or neglect—can ruin what began as a well-prepared, well-executed creative session.

The ad that came out in the same issue with model Angie Stoneking. Copyright Aloha Lavina 2010.

Being relatively new to the freelance photographer world, I rely on seasoned professionals like Melissa to learn how this business works. For a couple years I’ve been steadily shooting a few commissions a month, on weekends and evenings (because I have a whole other full time job), and so far it’s been a steep learning curve.

Recently, I learned that sometimes, no matter how professionally you execute a job, you don’t get the credit you deserve. Literally.

I was commissioned a shoot with one of my favorite designers of Indian couture. This was the third editorial I worked on with the client, so she pretty much entrusted the creative legwork to me—scout for a location and then book it, find the models, brief the creative team, and lead the shoot.

We had a great team that weekend: my friend Hilde Marie Johansen was the makeup and hair stylist. The models were Angie Stoneking and Vaughn Newman, two of my favorites and with whom I have collaborated many times.

Vaughn Newman in the dress that was sold the day after we shot this photo. Copyright Aloha Lavina 2010.

We all worked hard for two days, to get the editorial shots the designer needed for a couple purposes. One was to run print ads, and the other was for an article the magazine was doing on couture for the popular wedding issue.

I understand why ads don’t publish the names of the photographer nor the models and creative team.

What is disheartening is that the magazine neglected to credit any of the team that produced the photos for the article. Not one of us is credited. The photos float on those pages and yeah, that’s my work, but you don’t know that.

And like Melissa wrote in her blog, the team looks to the photographer when things like this happen. They ask, what happened? Why? And it leaves some negativity that should not be in that relationship in the first place, a sliver of doubt that has small but sharp edges.


This one was in the magazine's four-page spread as well. Copyright Aloha Lavina 2010.

I don’t understand, really, why the editors at the magazine neglected to do their editorial responsibility. I’ve worked with both CNNGo and the publishers at Reader’s Digest and Seventeen magazine back when I was 19 years old. And one of the first things the editor goes over is how credit will be given in the publication. They ask you how you spell your name, so they can put it beside your creative work.

So, you know, I don’t understand.

The next time I work for them, I might slip this infographic on how to credit, in the contract.

Welcome back and thanks for reading Imagine That! To keep updated with new posts, subscribe to Imagine That! by clicking on the RSS Feed button on the upper right of the Homepage.

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