Have you ever looked at a fashion story that appears deceivingly effortless and questioned what went into making that shoot? Or are you in the beginning stages of planning your first big shoot and don’t really know where to start? Fashion photographer Alexi Lubomirski has taken the time to answer these questions and breaks down the mechanics of a fashion photoshoot from start to finish.
An inside shot of @dakotajohnson in #AugustIssue of @harpersbazaarus @gucci shoot. The incredible floral designer, @ericbuterbaugh built a garden #oasis in the middle of #TimesSquare for us to shoot in!!! After the shoot, the public descended onto the set and were allowed to take as many or as few flowers/plants as they could carry ???????? Styling by @joannahillman Set design by @nicholasdesjardins Thanks to @glendabailey!
How it Starts
A fashion shoot typically manifests in one of three ways: a magazine will approach you with an idea, a magazine will approach you in search of an idea, or you approach the magazine with an idea – which is the most common for aspiring fashion photographers. Study trends as well as the different styles of magazines out there and determine if your original concept can be adapted accordingly.
Study various lighting patterns and determine if the mood of the shoot would be better suited in the very controlled environment of a studio or from the unpredictability of shooting on location. If shooting on location, be prepared for everything to go wrong and have a backup43 class=”title”>[REWIND: TFP COLLABORATIONS | THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY]
Casting & Scouting From Concept
Once the concept is complete it is time to bring the idea to fruition and cast the model and order the equipment, making sure it is all in working order prior to the shoot. Ask friends to help assist and be willing to return the favor. Send a call sheet the night before the shoot that includes everyone’s name, contact information, what is needed, the location and call time.
Scout different locations and setup the lighting while the model is in hair and makeup. Your camera and settings should be dialed in and ready to go when the model walks on set. Establish a rapport with the model and provide clear communication as to the posing and emotions she is to convey. Constantly scroll through the images after each look and confirm that a cohesive story is emerging. There needs to be a mixture of ¾ length, full body, close up, environmental and storytelling images throughout. If a shot isn’t working change it up. Work out any problems on set professionally and treat everyone with dignity and respect.
“You have to move quickly so know when you’ve got the shot. Be confident in your creativity.”
On the day of the shoot, gather the team around to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Bring visual references for styling, hair and makeup, poses and expressions for the model, and overall mood. Take the time to listen to the creative team as they may have an idea that will elevate the overall look of the shoot. Also take care of the team and make sure there are plenty of refreshments.
“If you are the photographer, you are the host of the party.”
After the shoot has commenced, select all of the images that you mildly like and continue to cull from there. Go with your gut if you are ever stuck between two images and be sure that you like every final image that you are sending out. Retouch with integrity and mindful to maintain a level of authentic and realistic standards.
As you can see, there are a lot of people and moving parts that make shoots of this caliber possible. Take the lessons learned along the way from each shoot and apply them to the next one. Always be gracious and treat everyone with kindness.
To see more of Alexi’s very informative videos and BTS of his major shoots, subscribe to his YouTube channel here. Really, if you’re into commercial work and fashion and want to get insider info on how things really happen, subscribe and consume everything Alexi has on tap.