You’re a newly declared model with great aspirations. You like my portfolio. You want to know what to do to have a great shoot with me. I’ve been asked this so many times, I thought it was past due to commit this information to a web page.
(This information is intended for novices. Experienced models need not read any further.)
Obviously, the real question is what WARDROBE should you bring?
If you are just starting on your portfolio, I recommend getting the 3 basic shots as soon as possible.
– Lifestyle or Editorial Fashion Images
– Full Body Images
– Head Shots
If you haven’t read it already, please see my Beginner Port Poses page for a discussion on posing for these shots.
First Things First
We’ve all looked in magazines and thought, “That looks really nice, but when or where would I ever wear that?” The answer is, “To be photographed for my portfolio”. You must not think practical when you are selecting wardrobe for a fashion shoot. You must think outside the proverbial box for something that is eye-catching and different. And above all, the fit should flatter your figure, no matter what size you are.
The hip hop boys may think saggy bottoms look cool (I don’t), but this is definitely not true for your wardrobe in a photo shoot. With few exceptions, your items should fit you very snug. If anything they should be a size too small, so that your feminine curves are accentuated.
With few exceptions (linen is the only one that comes to mind), your outfits need to be completely free of wrinkles. Also, please look over your items for any stains, holes, lint, etc. Fashion photography is mostly about the clothes and yours should look as fresh and new as possible.
The models in magazines are wearing brand new clothes with someone nearby to hem a little here and taper a little there to provide a just right look and fit. In most cases, we won’t have that luxury, so it is up to you to make sure your wardrobe selections are made with extreme scrutiny.
For your Fashion Image. Look in your closet for something new looking (not faded from washing) with bright colors. Preferably something like a short evening wear dress. When I photographed Imani (Image to the right), she hit this right on the head. This dress was short enough to accentuate her long slender legs and the strapless aspect added to the amount of exposed skin to help create a lovely image of a lovely young woman. This outfit showed sexy, mature and sophisticated.
In addition to a strapless dress, spaghetti or camisole like straps also look good. Outfits with collars not so much, and long sleeves are a definite no-no.
If your style tends to go younger, you might want to bring a short skirt or a pair of light-colored tights. Please note that black, brown and other dark-colored tights tend to lose detail completely during editing and therefore are not recommended. Please see the effect a “Glamour Soft” edit has on the black tights in the before and after images below. You may notice how the tights have lost much of their three-dimensional characteristics. While it is possible to circumvent this, it can be a time consuming process, and I really have a preference for more vibrant colors.
Either the skirt or tights can be paired with a brief top (belly shirt), even a bustier or fancy bra for a real urban “eye candy” look.
I have a preference for strappy heel shoes. Even strappy flat sandals can work with a sun dress and some short skirts. In some instances, bare feet will work, so don’t fret over needing to go and buy new shoes.
Accessories such as wide belts, scarves and shorty jackets can help complete an outfit. You should further accessorize your outfit with large jewelery items. Small gold chains and small stud earrings only show in close-ups and Fashion images tend to be 3/4 or full body.
Full Body Images
For your full body shots, you need these captures wearing either a swimsuit or bra and panties. Once again, bring bright-colored items, as dark colors will lose detail during editing. Even though I have better success in posing models in laying or seated poses, at least one of your full body shots should be standing.
In my experience, swimsuits with ruffles around the edges are not flattering and should be avoided. This is also an item of clothing that MUST fit you properly. This seems to be a problem for young women of all sizes, as I more often than not see swimsuit bottoms which are too big or have unwanted creases, and it never looks flattering.
You may also want to try different type of bottoms like boy shorts or my personal favorite, which I refer to as the molded bottom. Victoria Secrets calls this their “Cheeky Bottom”. The correct technical term is “Ruched Back Bottom”. (Don’t laugh, but it rhymes with douched.) With this style, there are intentional folds or pleats in the back. When wearing the correct size, these gathers centered in the middle make the fabric mold to your bottom in a most flattering manner.
If you know your “off the rack” swimsuits do not fit properly, either find someone you know that sews or try altering the items yourself. Adding a “Ruche” (gathers) to the bottom of an inexpensive off the rack suit is a fairly easy aftermarket alteration that should be considered. The first half of this YouTube Video Clip shows how easy it is. Assuming the back panel of your swimsuit is a solid piece of material, you will want to either fold or cut it directly in the middle (from top of the back panel to where it meets the crotch) along the center line of your butt cheeks and then do the two side-by-side stitches as shown in the video clip to add the ruching (gathers).
You can always purchase a Ruched back swimsuit.
You may also consider buying suits where the tops and bottoms are sold as separate items. This way, your bottom is in the proper size and the top, though in another size, also fits properly.
Alternatively, you should consider doing your full body images in bra and panties. Ideally, this would be the same type of panty you would wear when you did not want the panty lines to show. This should be paired with a properly sized, supportive matching bra. Naturally, bright and vibrant colors would stand out, but in this instance, a simple white (or pastel) set with a little inlaid (not fringe) lace can work just as well. Should you opt for the lingerie option, you may feel more comfortable doing this shoot at home or in a studio.
I typically allow enough time for 3 looks, so in addition to your fashion and your bikini looks, you should consider bringing either a fitness look (ie. stretch shorts, sports bra and athletic shoes) or a casual look (ie. skirt or shorts, camisole top and sandals). Of course these items should be bright-colored.
It’s also a good idea to bring 2 or more choices for each look. If you like, I will review your choices with you and make a recommendation on the spot.
I usually have a few wardrobe items and accessories with me when shooting, including high end photographic make-up, scarves, scrunchies, jewelry, etc. Though I have yet to take credit for it, in some of the images on this site I have provided complete wardrobes and served as MUA. In no way should this be construed that you should not provide your own wardrobe and make-up. If you leave it to me, you may end up wearing a couple palm fronds or less.
On a serious note, for certain themes, I may be able to provide outfits for you to wear to shoot in from my collection of Available Wardrobe.