CLOTHING & FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

Clothing & Fashion Photography
 

How do you photograph clothing on a model, mannequin or folded flat?

By Table Top studio (Education)

500_lights&tripod.jpg

"Taking good quality pictures of clothing can be tricky.  The battle to eliminate or control harsh shadows can seem endless, and soft, even lighting can be a real problem. Figuring out how best to display the clothing so it appears appealing to shoppers is also a challenge. Here are a variety of tips to display your clothing for great results ranging from the most basic folded display to the most professional fashion model. There are some simple techniques which even amateur photographers can use to obtain excellent results with minimal effort.  The following examples show several basic setups as well as a more elaborate fashion model set-up that should allow photographers at all levels to achieve results they can be proud of. 

The easiest technique to learn and have success with, is shooting clothing flat. Some great examples of flat or folded clothing photography can be seen online at GAP kids and L.L.Bean web stores. This is the last technique we will focus on in this tutorial. Keep in mind that these companies hire experienced photo clothing stylists to spend countless hours fussing over the tiniest layout details. A great deal can be learned from studying their final layout selections. The first technique covers use of a live fashion model. 

strobes.jpg

The folded technique has some basic limitations worth considering. We are shooting from "above", so we have limits as to how high we can raise our camera safely, using a horizontal tripod. If the clothing is large, the edges may inadvertently get cropped from the cameras view if the camera is too low. For a dress you may need to raise the camera to a height of 6' to 8'; although by 6' you may find you need a small step ladder to see through the viewfinder. Large chains ie. L.L.Bean have tall, sturdy scissor lifts, with large format cameras mounted on them specifically made for this purpose. These allow the camera to be raised to almost any height. Now lets look at some specific situations.

Full body shots of live models or mannequins requires large lights. And, although they may seem more difficult to work with live models should really be shot with strobe (flash) lights which will freeze any motion. Our Fashion and Clothing Photography Kits have a choice of large continous lights for shooting folded clothing or strobes for live models.

Photographing clothing on a model or mannequin will create a more striking image and the clothing will lay correctly

For lighting a mannequin or live model we recommend using very large soft boxes or umbrellas. We have found that umbrellas are easier to work with than large soft boxes so we have included a giant 6 ft. umbrella with a strobe light in our Fashion and Clothing Photography Kit. Since one light is the main light and the second light is a fill, the second umbrella can be smaller than the first. The large umbrella with strobe light is positioned at about a 45 degree angle to the model with its center post at about shoulder height. This should evenly distribute lots of soft light on the model’s clothing. The second smaller umbrella and strobe can be positioned a little lower and more to the side of the model. The second light does not need to be as bright as the first. The purpose of the second light is to fill in the dark side of the model, but we don’t want it to be equally bright or it will take some of the dimension out of our image and make it look flat. So the fill light can be a weaker strobe, or a strobe set to a lower setting, or both.
 

Using really big soft boxes (say 4ft. x 6 ft.) or a really big fashion umbrella will give the clothing nice soft lighting. Even though we normally prefer to work with continuous lights rather than strobe (flash) lights, large soft boxes or large umbrellas are best lit with strobe lights rather than continuous lights, especially when shooting a live model. To get enough light to fill a really big umbrella or soft box requires tons of light, which means using either some very hot (unpleasant to work with ) lights or an unwieldy number of fluorescent bulbs. The other advantage of strobe lights is that it can freeze motion. Even the steadiest model is likely to move a little, and the slightest movement will blur the image. Strobes not only have the advantage of being much brighter than continuous lights but they will eliminate any motion blur. The downside of using strobe lights is that you will need to use a remote to fire the strobes and your camera will need a hotshot to hold the remote.

But when it comes to shooting a live model or a full size mannequin, strobe lights are really the way to go. Huge soft boxes or giant fashion umbrellas work equally well. But huge soft boxes can be a pain to set up and take down. Umbrellas are less expensive, much easier to set up and take down.  

Steam or iron clothing to remove all wrinkles and creases

If you have never used a steamer before, then be sure to view the videos of using a steamer on the Jiffy Steamer web site. They show how to run the steamer along the front and inside of each piece removing wrinkles along the way. I have burned plenty of clothing in the past, by holding a hot iron on one spot for too long. So for me, working with a small steamer was a real treat. Also, there you can't add new creases by mistake, as commonly occurs when ironing.

Let's begin with a packaged, folded product since this is how many of you will begin. After removing the shirt from the package we used a good quality hand-held travel size steamer to remove the wrinkles.

Once the shirt is removed from the package it's covered in wrinkles. The wrinkles, if left un addressed, will really detract from the final image. Taking a few extra minutes in the beginning to get the clothing ready for shooting, will really payoff in the end. Don't skimp on ironing or steaming. 

The best thing to do is to iron or steam the wrinkles out. We used a highly rated hand held travel steamer. This little travel size Jiffy Esteam worked like a champ, and the wrinkles were gone in a flash.  

Use soft boxes for diffused, even lighting & softer shadows

You may have noticed if you are shooting without a diffuser, that your shadows are too strong, and may be overwhelming your product. Professional photographers use soft diffused lighting to get the best results. The new Tabletop Studio Kuhl Lites are unique in design, they hold four 30W bulbs each and include a removable diffusion panel. The choice of using 1-4 bulbs provides a huge amount of flexibility for lighting. 

Flat art photography inherently poses certain lighting challenges. The lights used need to provide smooth, even lighting over a very large, broad, flat surface.

To achieve balanced, even lighting we will use two large 20" soft boxes {Kuhl Lite120's}. The set shown here included optional diffusion panels that can be attached to the front to soften the light.

Since our items are flat, it's fine to position two equal light sources on opposite sides of the clothing. Normally this flattens an image. But our items are truly flat; like a poster, so flat lighting is fine.The large size of the soft boxes complements the large size of the clothing to provide very smooth, even coverage.


Reliable softbox brand

Kuhl120 with four 30W bulbs

Shown with diffusion cover

Use a short focal length lens to maximize the area of view

You may not be shooting the Grand Canyon, but you'll still want a wide angle lens for photographing clothing. I used a 28-100mm lens for most of these examples, but a nice 18-55mm would work great too. Be aware that as you go down closer to 18mm your clothing images may show some signs of warping. Just pay attention to the images as you go, to be sure your not using too wide an angle for the item. Let the results be your guide if your lens is adjustable.


Use a camera that has a short focal length {wide angle} lens. This will allow you to see a larger area of your subject; the entire piece of clothing. 

A wide angle lens views a larger "wider" area  vs. a zoom or macro lens that narrows the view to a smaller section of space. 

In this case, the wide angle lens fits the entire pair of jeans into view. We used a 18-55mm lens for this photo, and it worked well. 

Your camera should be positioned directly above the clothing. If the tripod is raised up high, use a small step ladder to safely look through your cameras viewfinder. 

Use a tethered camera to computer set-up for a faster workflow

It is convenient to use a tethered setup between camera and computer to control the camera. Many cameras include this software for free. In this case you can instantly view the image on the computer screen, allowing for faster feedback. This is a time saver in most cases. The only real financial investment needed is the cable long cable that runs from the computer to the camera. Most recent camera models include the software for free. It is priceless to see your lighting real-time on a big computer screen.

A tethered setup allows you to operate the camera directly from your computer or laptop system without leaving your seat. 

Well that may be a slight exaggeration, but it does save you time by providing a much larger view of your photo immediately.

The software allows you to adjust your camera settings such as exposure, depth of field, and file format etc. right from your laptop desktop.

Although we have not yet discussed shooting using mannequin, If you place your mouse over the left image you can see this dress on a mannequin we will discuss using later on this page. Getting a good photo using a mannequin is much easier than learning to shoot a live model. 

Attractive styling of clothing takes practice & patience 

Surf the web a little doing some research on styling you like for items similar to yours. Patagonia & the Gap spend a fortune on clothing stylists, so why not look at their item layouts if they are similar to yours. Knowing what you would like your piece to look like in the final image is a good idea before you begin. If you don't have an idea in mind you could spend hours fussing over the stuffing etc. without getting a good shot. Save yourself some time and frustration by doing your homework first. What do other sellers do with similar products that work? You will soon see a styling pattern emerge for skirts, shirts, pants, dresses.

Place your mouse over the left photo to see where we placed some stuffing. The placement we chose created shadows in that area which gives the image a more life like appearance.

I cannot stress styling enough. Study your favorite clothing web site photos for tips on how to arrange your clothing on the boards. 

Tissue paper and cotton batting make nice fillers for clothing to help give the articles a little life and add dimension.If your item has tags be sure your tags are facing front so they can be read. 

In some cases it may be helpful to pin the article to the board to hold it's position. This is only necessary if you are struggling with getting it to keep from changing position. The final skirt layout is cute and perky.

Wrinkle free garments look more desirable for purchase

Photoshop tricks can do many wonderful things for tweaking a final image but I have yet to see it remove wrinkles from a shirt! If you plan to shoot lots of clothing then you'll be thrilled with the little Jiffy esteam hand held travel steamer that I used. The travel size is about the size of a coffee thermos and can steam 5 to 10 articles of clothing in between refills, depending on their size. It is not industrial size, but I found it was not as messy to use as the larger commercial size. The commercial size is the size of a vacuum cleaner. If you are shooting larger articles of clothing such as dresses you may benefit from the commercial size.

Place your mouse over the image on the left to see what it looked like before it was steamed and "stuffed" with cotton batting. Examine the image carefully to see how our cotton batting that was stuffed beneath the neckline edge.

I used cotton ball size batting to raise the neckline front edge just enough to create the shadows seen in the photo on the left. This stuffing produced a very nice separation of the neckline front from the neckline back. 

The little soft shadow created by simply raising the front neckline edge slightly, helps the shirt pop more.

 

Use a high quality wig on the mannequin for added realism

Most times mannequins will look fake, but you can add realism if you purchase and use a high quality wig and then crop your final photo just above the mannequinn chin. It looks quite lifelike. Nothing beats a high quality fashion model but sometimes it's just not in the budget and you need to be more creative. A good mannequin with wig combo can work in a pinch.

Place your mouse over the image on the left to see the fake mannequin face that was cropped out.

If you decide to use a mannequin select an attractive style that fit's the clothing you plan to photograph. A good quality wig, as shown left.

The face of a mannequin always looks a bit fake. Just crop images above the chin for close-ups, so the face is not part of the image. The head and face look fine in small thumbnail size images.

Dressing the mannequin is tricky, the arms & legs need to be removed and reattached as you struggle to get the clothing on and off for each shot.

* Tip - Change the wig for a new look!

uncropped with head

mannequin backside


new wig = whole new look

How do you strip out the background to get pure white ?

If you decide you want a completely stripped out, page white, background, it is easy. Photoshop elements, the scaled down less expensive version of Photoshop, will do the trick. Select the background using the selection tool set to 25-30. Inverse the selection to highlight the mannequin. Create a new layer of just her. Then fill the layer below with white. Michaelstars website uses this trick for the entire site. It's up to you! It is worth looking at backgrounds on websites you like to see what they used.

Adobe Photoshop Elements uses the same simple process to remove backgrounds as Photoshop. Don't be afraid to try this yourself if you have not yet done so.

There are countless online video tutorials available now to hold your hand through the steps of removing a photo background.

If you light the background, and use white, it will be very easy to select the background for removal. There is no right or wrong way to portray clothing. Just choose the style you prefer. You'll see different choices for backgrounds at nordstrom, GAP, Michael Stars, Patagonia etc. Look at these online stores to decide what's right for your store.

with background

background removed


white background

Fashion & Clothing Photography Tools

Clothing photography has many different subgroups that make it difficult to put together the perfect clothing photography kit for all situations. Many sellers specialize in just a a section of the clothing market such as woman's clothing, children's or men's. The equipment recommendations change slightly with the different categories. The setups below cover a broad spectrum of needs from shooting live models, mannequins or flat/folded clothing. 

Be sure to choose the right tools for your photo strategy. If you are using a live model strobes are a MUST. "

Fashion Photography Kit

  • Two powerful strobes (flash) 
  • One giant 6' fashion shooting umbrella 
  • One 43" fashion fill umbrella 
  • Wireless remote control 
  • One 8' light stand w/swivel bracket & sand bag 
  • One 6' light stand with sand bag

    Flat clothing photography kit

  • Tripod with horizontal arm
  • 2 Kuhl Lite 120's 20” softbox reflectors
  • 2 removable diffusion panels for the Kuhl Lites
  • Complete light heads with 8 Trumpet Top bulbs
  • Two fully adjustable 6’ light stands

    * Helpful Accessories

  • 30x40 foam board 3/16"
  • Camera tether
  • Tissue paper for stuffing 
  • Straight pins for mounting 
  • Cotton batting for stuffing 
  • Wide angle lens 
  • Iron or steamer 
  • Photoshop or Elements 
  • Mannequin 
  • Attractive fashion model

* These items are sold separately 

 

HISTORY OF FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

Fashion photography has been in existence since the earliest days of photography. In 1856, Adolphe Braun published a book containing 288 photographs of Virginia Oldoini, Countess di Castiglione, a Tuscan noblewoman at the court of Napoleon III. The photos depict her in her official court garb, making her the first fashion model.[1]

In the first decade of the 20th century, advances in halftone printing allowed fashion photographs to be used in magazines. Fashion photography made its first appearance in French and American magazines such as La mode pratique and Harper's Bazaar.[2] In 1909, Condé Nast took over Vogue magazine and also contributed to the beginnings of fashion photography. In 1911, photographer Edward Steichen was "dared" by Lucien Vogel, the publisher of Jardin des Modes and La Gazette du Bon Ton, to promote fashion as a fine art by the use of photography.[3] Steichen then took photos of gowns designed by couturier Paul Poiret.[3] These photographs were published in the April 1911 issue of the magazine Art et Décoration.[3] According to Jesse Alexander, This is "...now considered to be the first ever modern fashion photography shoot. That is, photographing the garments in such a way as to convey a sense of their physical quality as well as their formal appearance, as opposed to simply illustrating the object."[4]

Vogue was followed by its rival, Harper's Bazaar, and the two companies were leaders in the field of fashion photography throughout the 1920s and 1930s. House photographers such as Steichen, George Hoyningen-HueneHorst P. Horst and Cecil Beaton transformed the genre into an outstanding art form.

In the mid-1930s as World War II approached, the focus shifted to the United States, where Vogue and Harper's continued their old rivalry. In 1936, Martin Munkacsi made the first photographs of models in sporty poses at the beach. Under the artistic direction of Alexey BrodovitchHarper's Bazaar quickly introduced this new style into its magazine.
House photographers such as Irving PennMartin MunkacsiRichard Avedon, and Louise Dahl-Wolfe would shape the look of fashion photography for the following decades. Richard Avedon revolutionized fashion photography — and redefined the role of the fashion photographer — in the post-World War II era with his imaginative images of the modern woman.

From 1939 and onward, what had previously been the flourishing and sizeable industry of fashion photography all but stopped due to the beginnings of World War II. The United States and Europe quickly diverged from one another. What had previously been a togetherness and inspired working relationship diverged with Paris occupied and London under siege. Paris, the main fashion-power house of the time quickly became isolated from the United States—especially with Vogue Paris shutting down for a brief hiatus in 1940.[5] With these changes, the photography based out of the USA gained a distinct Americana vibe—models often posed with flags, American brand cars, and generally just fulfilling the American ideal. What did remain of the French and British fashion photography on the other hand often had a wartime overlay to the content. Cecil Beaton’s ‘Fashion is Indestructible’ from 1941 displays a well-dressed woman viewing the rubble that once was Middle Temple in London. Similarly, Lee Miller began taking photos of women in Paris and London, modeling the latest designs for gas masks and bicycling with pincurlers in their hair, as they did not have electricity with which to curl their hair.[6]Images such as these remain scarred into the face of fashion photography of the time and display a common sentiment among the fashionable world and the public. Even fashion photographers worked to document the issues surrounding and work towards a documentation of the time—even if within the frame of fashion. These photos are an especially good indication of the fashionable emotions of the time. Many felt that fashion photography, during wartime especially, was frivolous and unnecessary. Yet, the few who worked to preserve the industry did so in new and inventive ways throughout the duration of the war.[7]

In postwar London, John French pioneered a new form of fashion photography suited to reproduction in newsprint, involving natural light and low contrast.[8][9]

In the recent years fashion photography gained an even greater popularity due to the expansion of internet and ecommerce. Clean product, knolling and ghost mannequin photography have become a usual practice in the fashion industry.[10]

Fashion photography tips.

10 Fashion Photography Tips

 By: Natalie Denton (nee Johnson)

  1. Fashion photography should convey an essence of authority, so your direction of the model(s) needs to be confident and self-assured.  Showing signs of anxiety, stress or lack of direction will invariably be reflected in the performance of your model so make the subject feel comfortable and involved.  Organise a shot list before the shoot and rehearse technique and composition for each shot in your mind. Prepare the location, props and clothes ahead of time and for a truly effective shoot be sure to communicate your agenda, objective and posing directions coherently and calmly.
  2.  Fashion photography is all about clothes and beauty, so pull all the elements of the scene and the model together to reflect this. For example if the shoot focuses on the clothes– use make-up and hair styling to compliment the garment – and vice versa.  If you desire a provocative or seductive look opt for dark, heavy make-up and over styled hair; alternatively for an innocent or natural feel choose subdued pastel tones, gentle make up and soft flowing hair styles.  Unusual looking folk bring interest and personality to the piece, whereas female models with large almond eyes, big lips, small chins and symmetrical faces are deemed “more commercial”.   
  3. Posing can be a tricky point to master but browse through the latest men’s and women’s magazines to target a few inspired suggestions as well as getting a grip on what is currently fashionable. Using ‘broken down’ poses or poses that require angular body shapes can add interest and edginess to the piece – as well as help to elongate body length.
  4. A studio is an ideal place to perform a fashion shoot because photographers can easily control lighting and stabilise conditions. If you are shooting in a studio environment remember to meter all areas of the scene to avoid unwanted shadows and the use of a separate light meter rather than the one in your camera, will offer a more accurate reading.
  5. If you can’t afford to hire a professional studio and all the pricey equipment there is a way you can cheat at home. Clear a space in a room that benefits from large windows and peg a white sheet, net or fabric across the window. On a bright sunny day you’ll have yourself a homemade soft box – ideal for flattering even light.
  6. When shooting in low light or into the sun, you may require an extra light source. If all you have is flash then rather than shoot straight on, set it to bounce of a nearby reflector, wall or ceiling. Experiment with angles to create an array of effects and discover what works best for you and the scene you are shooting. Be careful to pay attention to unwanted shadows that may fall across the face and body.
  7.  Props are fantastic for telling a narrative within a fashion shot, but one of the best props to use is a mirror. A mirror can be a used to tell a story and act as an effective tool that allows the photographer to display the front and back of your model. Take a spate reading for the mirror and you may need to bracket your exposures here. Be careful to position yourself, lighting equipment and anything not to do with the shoot out of the reflection.  
  8. Location, location, location! Getting the right location is important if you want to convey a narrative within your shot.  For example if the clothing and beauty styling are edgy, hard or provocative you may want to consider an urban setting , alternatively for spring/summer and natural fashions find a rural environment like; a field, meadow, beach, woodland or river bank.
  9. Influence the image by moving around the scene and exploring which angles work best to full expose the garment. This could mean climbing a ladder, crouching low, working a slanted angle or moving closer to the subject. Think about what the message is here and create a composition to reinforce it.
  10.  Fashion photography is achievable alone, but to step it up a gear rope in a friend, family member or photography student as an assistant. Often photographers need an extra pair of hands to position reflectors, angle and reset lighting equipment, tweak the positioning of garments and clear the scene.

FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY STEREOTYPES

Top Overused Fashion Photography Stereotypes to Avoid

LONE WOLF MAGAZINE

by NATALIA BORECKA

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to see fashion photography through the lens of someone who professionally looks at fashion images all day? We’ve put this list together to give you a sense of what that’s like. An insane number of editorials pass through our office, and we’ve realized that a surprisingly large number fall into easily discernible themes. For anyone who loves editorial photography, there’s nothing new to see here. But let’s take a moment to all nod our heads in violent agreement at the fact that fresh ideas are hard to come by in fashion. And it’s no surprise, fashion photography has been around long enough that recurring themes and sub-genres were bound to arise organically. Here are a few of the ones we’ve come across most frequently. We hesitated to call them cliches because we don’t like the negative connotations that label carries, but it needs to be said that if you want your fashion photographs to stand out from the crowd, it’s probably in your best interest to avoid the photoshoot themes below. And though it’s true that even a cliche can be heart-wrenchingly beautiful with the right execution, it’s also more likely to be predictable. Just something to consider. So without further ado, here they are, the 20 most popular fashion photography stereotypes according to Lone Wolf!
 

1. THE PATRIOT

Left to Right: Photography by unknown, Erin Wasson by Fred Meylan, Emily Soto, Marcus Hyde

This theme features a model draped with the American flag and running through a remote desert-like landscape as the sun sets behind her. Nine times out of ten she’s wearing cowboy boots or converse sneakers with a pair of worn jeans, looking every bit the poster child of fashionable free-spirited patriotism.

 

2. THE SEXY NUN


It would be almost impossible to have a list of fashion cliches without the sexy nun.  This theme features the model wearing a nun’s habit paired with a sex-starved look and scandalously naughty accessories. More often than not, she is also featured having sex with another nun, or a priest.

 

3. THE MAGICAL WOODLAND NYMPH

Left to Right: Signe Vilstrup for Elle, Arthur Elgort

Ah, the good old magical woodland nymph, decorated with wreaths of flowers and flowing dresses made of sheer fabric. She is daintily prancing through a forest on a magical hazy afternoon, sometimes with a bunny, or a fawn or baby lamb. This is, by far our most popular theme for submissions. Sometimes the woodland nymph takes on a darker more primal twist with the model dressed like a magical (and fashionable) savage, flower-wreaths are replaced by antlers, a wreath of thorns, or sticks.

 

4. OPHELIA

Left to Right: Photography by Nadav Kander, Camilla Akrans, Oh Joong Seok, Sofia Sanchez

The next trope is closely related to the wood nymph, but with a literary twist referencing Shakespeare’s Ophelia (or actually, as is more likely, referencing Sir John Everett Millais’ painting of Ophelia). She is seen floating in a body of water, most often a river or lake, but sometimes also a bathtub, speckled with flowers and decorated by a wreath of flowers and a flowing dress made of sheer fabric.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

5. RETRO MOTEL

Left to Right: Photography by Benny Horne, Heide Lindgren, Rachel Alexander

This trope is all setting, always taking place in a sketchy motel with a distinctly 50s vibe. Sometimes its rundown, other times it’s not. The model frequently assumes the role of a girl-on-the-run, high-end escort, or else a sexually frustrated housewife cheating on her husband, usually wearing 50s inspired wardrobe.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

6. WHIMSICAL BALLOONS

From Left to Right: Photography by Luis Monteiro, Tim Walker, Lara Jade

Whimsical balloons, often shot against a European setting with quirky and girlish wardrobe and soft natural lighting. First popularized by Tim Walker, and now taking off like wild fire. The “edgy” spin on this trope is using black balloons in a gritty urban setting, like an industrial roof-top, or empty parking lot.

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7. THE DISGRUNTLED HOUSEWIFE

Clockwise from top left: Yossi Michaeli, Miles Aldridge, Arthur Elgort, Miles Aldridge

You’ve likely seen this editorial a million times, a seductive albeit disgruntled housewife violently cooks her husbands meal, or completely ignores her baby while smoking a cigarette and enjoying her vodka martini. She is a terrible mother, and a terrible wife and just doesn’t give one hoot. This theme is often photographed with a retro 50s twist set against a distinctly groomed suburban landscape.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

8. WORKING OUT IN HEELS (and other inappropriate attire)

From left to right: Photography by Terry Richardson, Julius Bramanto, H&M, Emma Tempest

Our next theme has been going strong since the 70s: inappropriately dressed models sweating it out at the gym. You know, too much makeup, running on a treadmill in 6 inch heels and a leather corset ect.

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9. THE DINER

From left to right: Walter Chin, Louis Vuitton Campaign, Andre Brito, Unknown

No surprise, this editorial takes place in a diner. The model’s wardrobe is either vintage, or vintage inspired, always looking prim and proper and lady-like. Also, she is almost always wearing pastels and drinking a milkshake or eating a burger.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

10. DENIM ON DENIM

 

This trope features layers of denim with a subtle masculine twist. You will almost always at some point find the model wearing jeans with a button-up jean shirt (sometimes with a sparkly necklace cleverly peeking out from under the collar). Despite its popularity and arguable cliche-worthiness, we just can’t stop loving it given the populairty and versatility of denim.

11. THE CLOWN

Out of all the fashion photography tropes on this list, none confounds us quite as much as The Clown. If you think about it, there’s really no good reason why it should be as popular as it is. It’s not like clowns aren’t absolutely terrifying. But for whatever reason, the circus clown has fashion photographers absolutely captivated. This theme is really about the makeup artists itching to stretch their creative muscles (and their makeup kits). Among the many editorials that cross our desk, The Clown is among the most common.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .

 

12. THE SEXY BUNNY

What’s with fashion portraying women as submissive sex bunnies all the time? Obviously Playboy had a bigger influence on fashion than one might think. We could talk about how this may be dehumanizing women, but we’re not going to. Nope. Not going there. Arguably, every fashion photography trope has a right to exist, even if it’s a little weird. And who are we kidding, Kate Moss looked incredible in that Playboy Bunny shoot.

13. A DAY AT CONEY ISLAND

Ah, ye ol Coney Island theme. Although yes, it’s mostly shot at Coney Island, by no means is it exclusively about this one location. Any amusement part themed shoot could have a Coney Island theme as long as the right elements are present: The retro cyclone-style roller-coaster rides, the corns on the cobs and crumbling pop-the-baloon games with giant inflatable gorillas as prizes, and the cute boy that wins you one.

14. FRIDA KAHLO

There are so many incredible female artists that steal our hearts and take our breath away. There’s Tamara de Lempicka and her brilliant art deco style, Georgia O’Keeffe and her erotic flowers, Elaine de KooningFrancoise GilotKiki Smith, and so many others. But there’s something special about Frida Kahlo that captivates fashion photographers unlike any other female artist. Over the course of this century she transformed from being a brilliant painter, to became a work of art herself. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising given her affinity for self portraits. With her colorful flower wreaths, dark braids and thick unibrow, Frida is so visually iconic no fashion photographer could resist photographing her likeness.

15. ANIMAL ATTRACTION

This theme is a sub-genre of The Femme Fatale, a dangerous animal-like woman in the company of dangerous felines. She’s wearing cheetah print, and lots of black eyeliner, and if you’re a man, she’s going to tear your heart out of your chest and eat it right in front of you. That woman is trouble, but you just can’t help yourself.

16. THE BOY-TOY

The Boy Toy theme naturally follows Animal Attraction. Both feature a confident and hyper sexual female characters. However, this one falls into the Stephanie Meyers method of fashion photography i.e. nasty nasty wish fulfillment. Because really, who doesn’t want to be a filthy rich glamazon and get freaky with the pool boy. Anyone? Anyone?

17. THE LAUNDROMAT

Because nothing says fashion like clean clothing, all laundromat themed shoots have only two things in common: they all take place at a laundromat (duh) and they occasionally use it (often doing it all wrong). And though we’ve seen it a million times, we still kind of love it. Or maybe we just like seeing beautiful models doing chores.

18. CORSETS AND BIRDCAGES

Whether it’s because, if you think about it, corsets are kind of like birdcages when you remove all the fabric and leave nothing but the boning. Or maybe it’s because theres something inherently emo about birdcages. We cant be sure. But what we do know is that in the fashion photography world, birdcages and corsets go together like Karl Lagerfeld and dry shampoo. This trope is nestled comfortably under the Steam Punk genre that almost never sees the inside pages of a fashion magazine.

19. FUTURISTIC INDUSTRIAL WASTELAND

It’s the quintessential grit and glamour theme. The basic formula here goes something like this: You find an abandoned industrial warehouse and a model. You put her in said warehouse wearing inappropriately decadent attire. You turn on the smoke machine. Presto chango. You got high fashion (predictable high fashion, but still).

20. POP ART

Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein are the supreme rulers of this theme. The point is the make your fashion photographs look as one dimensional as possible (the irony here does not escape us). By stylizing the shoot exclusively with primarily colors, Ben-Day Dots, and hard black lines to simulate the look of pulp comics from the 1950s, you too can make your images look like comic-book prints.

You may be tempted to ask why these themes even exist in the first place. Perhaps it comes down to people thinking along the same lines, and taking inspiration from each other. When artists start looking to other artists for inspiration, you’re bound to have some overlap. If you can think of any other popular fashion photography themes, please share in the comments below!

 

FROM LONE WOLF MAGAZINE

FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER ADVICE

"If you are a young fashion photographer or stylist trying to break into the fashion industry, you’re likely feeling frustrated right about now. For all artists out there the path to success and financial security is fraught with uncertainty, and there is no sure-fire business plan that will light the way and no straightforward strategy that will lighten the load. We can completely sympathize! And if you’re just starting out, you’re likely facing one of the most difficult professional periods in your life – that critical moment when you get on your feet and get the ball rolling. We’re here to help you make the most of it. Here is our list of ultimate career advice for aspiring fashion photographers, stylists, makeup artists and anyone else working in the fashion industry. Here Goes!

.   .   .   .

You Can’t Ask for Your Big Break, You Have to Earn It

If we had a nickel for every time a photographer contacted us with no experience, barely anything to call a portfolio, and said something along the lines of, “If you give me a commission letter I’m going to make you something amazing, just trust me.” We don’t meant to be harsh, but in the insanely competitive job world out there, no one is just going to give you a break because you seem passionate and sure of yourself. In the social sphere that stretches beyond your friends and family who believe in you because they love you, everyone else will be really really hard on you. If “just trust me” is all you have to go on, you really don’t have much. When hundreds of competitors are applying for the same jobs as you with polished portfolios of work that really highlight what they’re capable of, you better have more than just promises and passion to go on. As a general rule of thumb in fashion, show don’t tell. Take big risks with the work you create, work hard and you won’t need to sell yourself because your work will speak for itself.

The Key is Consistency

That’s it, the magic word that will get you through the door and onto the other side. The one piece of career advice that’s probably more important than any other. Consistency. It’s the one quality that separates a successful professional from a struggling artist. No one expects you to hit a home-run every time, but clients do expect a consistent level of quality in your images. And be aware that there are a few things clients will always watch out for. Your website, for one. Unless you have a large amount of high quality published work in there, clients will be wary of your portfolio because they know you’ve selected only the very best of everything you’ve ever created. What about the stuff that doesn’t make it in? How long did it take you to get that perfect shot? Can you do it again? Was it just blind luck? If you can prove to a client that you can consistently reproduce your best quality work, you’re in. But that’s not to say that you work necessarily has to be perfect every time. Consistency might mean achieving the same style in every shot, maybe it’s your signature lighting skills that come through, or your particular flavor of posing the model in strange an original ways. Whatever it may be for you, aim to hit the same note every time.

Don’t Follow the Trends, Create Them

 

Every aspect of the fashion industry (and every industry for that matter) is affected by trends. We all seem to fall in love with the same things at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you need to be very aware of trends in your work, and be calculating about how you choose to incorporate them into your photography or design. For example, about a year ago the whole wet-hair-stuck-to-models-face look really took off. You can see it herehere and here. For a while you could see it literally everywhere. About 50% of photography that passed through the Lone Wolf office featured this hair look. Not surprisingly, despite the fact that it’s trending hard, we quickly grew tired of seeing it. In other words, you could have been a brilliant photographer, but because you used an overused trend in your editorial, it effectively became invisible. Our advice is to rework trends, add unexpected elements to make your work stand out and to show the world that you’re one step ahead of the game.

Don’t Ignore the Details

Wrinkled clothes? A dirty backdrop? Polyester fabrics? Don’t think others won’t notice. As they say, the devil is in the details – it really doesn’t matter what industry we’re talking about, overlooking the finest details will result in mediocre work. It’s as simple as that. But pushing yourself beyond mediocre in fashion photography is extremely difficult because it requires that your whole team is as much of a perfectionist as you are. If your stylists is diligent about wardrobe, and you are a total perfectionist when it comes to lighting, but your hair stylist cuts corners, the whole thing falls apart very quickly.

You’re Never Hired for the Obvious Reasons

Ok, so your portfolio is gold. You’ve got the creative vision of a young Picasso and the flair of Kanye West himself. Naturally you’d assume these are the top reasons why you’d get hired for a campaign or editorial job, right? Wrong. Although these are extremely important, your actual job is to be the logistical brains behind every creative project. In other words, you need to have a cool head and learn how to problem solve your way out of any situation. Don’t ask too many questions, don’t hesitate for a second because everyone is counting on you to figure it all out. This holds equally true for creative problems like how to pose a model or style a shoot, as it does for logistical problems.

Stop Comparing Yourself to the Competition

You should only ever compare yourself to yourself, as you were six months ago. It’s like Malcolm Gladwell said in The Tipping Point, the magic number of true expertise is ten thousand hours. That is, it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become truly great at something. You don’t know where other people lie on that scale. If they’re better than you, it’s likely simply because they were busy practicing while you were busy flipping through Pinterest “looking for inspiration.” Comparing your own work to top photographers is crazy. They have a life time on you. By that same token, looking back at your own body of work, you should see a noticeable improvement. If you don’t, you’re doing it wrong.

 

Don’t Be a Starving Artist

Many young creative types really romanticize this idea of being a starving artist, but it’s only tolerable for about a year. After that it becomes an unbearable weight on your shoulders. There’s nothing romantic or glamorous about poverty folks, especially when you’re working in the fashion industry! Every so often, you’ll want to wear shoes that don’t have holes in them. The fact is, becoming a pro photographer takes money, lots of it. So you’ll need a solid long-term plan in place. You may need to supplement your career with less glamorous gigs (weddings? corporate portraits? Elance?) until you refine your craft and make some solid industry connections.

Oh, You’re Just Not That Into Social Media?

The world is changing, and although word of mouth is still a powerful (and viable) way of getting noticed, it’s also the hardest and least likely way. As a fashion photographer your goal is to have your work seen by as many people as possible. If you’re doing your job right, you will quickly learn that taking pictures, and editing them are the smallest part of your job. Marketing should take up about 75% of everything you do, with social media being the most important of these. There’s simply no better way to become insanely successful than to use your social networks.

Home is Where Your Dream Job Is

They say, do what you love and never work another day in your life. There’s no denying that loving your job, and being passionate about your career is one of the greatest blessings in life. It is therefore important to understand and be aware that the place you call home may be holding you back. If your dream is to be the next Mario Testino, you’ll need to move to New York. If you dream about being the next Wes Anderson, you’ll need to move to L.A. Though other cities have their own flourishing fashion scene or movie scene –  a scene is not a proper industry. A scene is not enough to build a thriving career on. That’s not to say you can’t do it, but you will likely end up frustrated by the lack of resources and community support available to you.

Strive for Simplicity

The old saying that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” holds true. All you really need to create beautiful images is a beautiful model, a single dramatic element and literally nothing else. No crazy accessories or hair and makeup all laid over intense poses and voodoo lighting. When deciding how to style a shoot, between dramatic makeup + hair + sets/lighting + dramatic clothing, aim to choose only two out of these four options, otherwise you’ll have a circus on your hands (and unless you’re Tim Walker with a fifteen thousand dollar budget, it’s probably not going to fly).

Action is the Only Thing That Matters

It’s all about what you actually do, rather than how you feel. Of course your thoughts and feelings matter, at least to those that know you personally. But as far as the rest of the world is concerned, your internal world barely exists. I know it sounds harsh, but it is an essential lesson in becoming a successful adult. The world turns on the currency that is action. If you try to convince someone that you’re an amazing, talented and compassionate individual that’s going places, but have nothing to show for it, you’ll be wasting your breath. Your greatest contribution to this world and to your own life will be through the actions you take. If you want to stand out professionally, stop talking and go out and do something (anything) productive that will have a positive effect in the world. By that token, showing people you want to work with what you’ve done (no matter how small) is always going to be more impressive than showing them what you plan to do, or how motivated you are about your career.

Working for Free = Practice.

This is a very controversial topic because there are a lot of people out there who will take advantage of you. But there is another word for free work, and it’s called practice. Fashion photography is not accounting, it’s not computer science, it’s art. Unlike these other fields, in fashion you can’t go straight from graduating college to making a good salary simply because you haven’t had enough time to practice your craft. And don’t tell us that you’ve been shooting since you were a child. Pointing your camera at something is different from creative direction, production, casting and directing a team. One requires nothing but your creativity, while the other requires a certain level of leadership, maturity and professional experience. But beyond practice is the matter of creative control. Starting out, working for free allows you to be as creative as you wish and to pour your passion into a dream project. When you’re working for a paying client they hold all the creative control, which often translates to work that is less than you’re capable of. If you’re focusing on just getting paid clients from the onset, it will take you a very long time to create the kind of portfolio that will get you noticed by high-paying clients.

Work with the Best – Even if it’s Not Financially Rewarding

Another thing to consider is that fashion is a career path were the division between big companies and small companies is extreme. There are very few in the middle. So basically, if you’re new to the game you’re stuck between not being good enough for the big boys yet, and volunteering your time to the smaller companies that are just barely staying afloat. When you’re just starting out in the fashion industry, it is extremely important that you pay more attention to working with talented people instead of getting paid. Trust that the money will come in due time. For now focus on collaborating with talented no-bodies who will one day be big somebodies (like you!).  Fill your portfolio with quality work, publish in quality magazines and associate yourself with quality people. Newbie artists that think they’re going to be getting paid from the get-go are in for a rude awakening. Unless you were born into this industry, you’ll be crawling your way to the top like everyone else.

Be An Image Maker, Not an Image Taker

Anyone with a camera, access to photoshop, and a really great model can luck out with a great shot. But there is an important distinction between someone who takes an image, and someone who makes it. You need to be an image maker, not an image taker. See the final product in your mind, and do what needs to be done to usher it into reality. Don’t rely wholly on the skills of your team, and don’t wait for magic to happen. Sometimes it will, other times it won’t. And that’s the crux of the problem. Image takers are like scavenger animals, while image makers are like wolves. The wolf seeks out her vision, hunts it, runs after it and skillfully takes it down. The scavenger waits for something amazing to fall from the sky, usually by machine-gun shooting thousands of images just to luck out with one. And even when scavengers get lucky, these lucky strikes are like creative left-overs and rarely contain all the meat of an inspired, curated and carefully executed shoot.

Don’t Be Creatively Passive

When it comes to the creative process, you’re either all in or you’re not. You either commit wholeheartedly to your work and you attack it, or you half-ass it and wait passively for something creative to finally happen to you. The way you work says a lot about where you fall on this creative passivity spectrum. Every time you stay quiet on-set when you know you should speak up, you’re being creatively passive. Every time you get by with just doing the bare minimum that is required of you, without whole-heartedly and actively engaging with your team, you’re being creatively passive. If you spend more time creating Moodboards than you do actually creating art, you’re being creatively passive. If you’re a photographer, and you just stand there behind the camera waiting for the picture to happen, or if you’re a stylist and you settle for just putting clothes on the model then fading into the shadows of the studio while the clothes shift and crumple with every pose, you’re being creatively passive.

Master The Art of Selling

Few would argue with the idea that fashion photography is a bona fide art form. It is a creative expression of an idealized, and often over glamorized reality. But there’s just one small problem…unlike other art forms, fashion photography is the one form of art in which “selling out” is part of the job description from the get go. In other words, regardless if you call your work lifestyle or “high fashion” your images are going to be intrinsically tied to a commercial product. This is not meant to cast a negative light on fashion photography as a profession, there’s nothing wrong with mixing art and commerce, but it does take away from the creative purity of your work. People are rarely going to look at your fashion photographs and be moved to tears, or inspired to be better people. The vast majority of the time they are just going to be looking at the makeup and clothes. You can never be a truly successful fashion photographer if you don’t address this particular elephant in the studio: As a fashion photographer you are always playing double duty as one part artist, and one part salesman. 

Boiled down to its very essence, a photographer’s job is to present a product in a way that captures the attention of consumers. This effectively renders creating “art for art’s sake” in the field of fashion photography extremely difficult. Fashion photography only exists because someone somewhere wanted to sell a beautiful designer dress. I know it seems obvious, but it’s something many aspiring fashion photographers forget. They get into fashion because they hunger for that creative outlet, not realizing that in fashion creativity often takes a backseat to commerce. Not only can this be incredibly disappointing to artists, it can immobilize their career before it has even started. 

.   .   .   .   .

We sincerely hope this list is useful to you. Let us know your thoughts and concerns, and post your questions in the comments! We would love to help you answer them, especially if you find yourself struggling with your fashion career"

By @Lonewolf magazine. 

 

Interview with FSM MAGAZINE

Hermeilio Miguel Aquino is a professional actor with plays at the Old Vic, Donmar, West End, Broadway and a few TV parts under his belt, but it was the up and down life of an actor that turned him into a bit of a polymath.

“I wanted to learn another creative skill that would allow me to continue acting, so I picked up photography and directing,” explains Aquino aka KINO, “And for some reason, the photography has really helped me create a lot of the visual images I want to accomplish. I’m very happy I make a living doing acting, photography and directing. If it was not for the photography I wouldn’t get a chance to direct a commercial for Lenovo.”

Originally from the USA, KINO’s route to London was an unusual one, “I was not expecting to move to London. I was studying acting and film directing at Columbia College in Chicago, and I saw a study abroad program in Russia. I was fascinated with Stanislavksi work at the time and I thought it will give me the missing link I needed to master the craft of acting.

“I applied got accepted and then the following month I was on a plane to St. Petersburg.   St. Petersburg is very European, the night life was in insane, everything about that city I loved. After months of running around, studying acting and filmmaking, I packed my bags to head back Chicago. Once I got there I realized – man, I need to move to Europe.

“I saw an acting program at Central St. Martins School of Art & Design and for some reason I said – let’s go for it. I got accepted and within weeks I was on a plane to London. I’ve been living in London for 13 years on and off. I met my wife in New York, Robyn – she’s a Jazz singer and photo retoucher – turns out she’s from Surrey and she basically told me ‘let’s move to London’ and I was like why not!”

“When I was a child I wanted to be a scientist, I love technical stuff. In a way photography is very technical. It’s so technical – I honestly think photography is 98 percent technique and the two percent is being creative. My career path, I don’t know if I really have one. I know what I want to do and I just do it – even if it sucks, I will do it anyway because I will learn from my mistake.  At the moment I’m concentrating a lot of my time on photography and creating editorials and writing.”

KINO is currently writing a spec screenplay for a literary agency, and also working with his wife on a beauty editorial, “Robyn is an awesome retoucher; my photography has massively improved because she tells me what not to do.”

As for the tools of his trade, “I shoot with a Nikon 800E, Prime lenses, my trusty 24-70 2.8 Nikon lenses, my laptop and Bowen studio lighting flashes. I shoot a lot at West London studio. Andrea and Francisco, the studio owners, have been really guiding me to learn everything about studio lighting and become a good photographer. Without them I wouldn’t be half as good.”

“The commercial I directed for Lenovo was such a great experience. I teamed up with Sofluence Agency – they are a very talented creative agency that also represents top influencers around the world. Everything I envisioned happened. It was a challenge of course, but we managed to create something that we are proud of.

“Because I’m also a photographer I was able to do the lighting and guide the camera operator to the aesthetic we all wanted to achieve. We shot it on a red camera, it was five days of shooting and 4 days of post production.  We managed to get 900,000 views and the client is very happy.”

A very special career highlight was acting at the Donmar Warehouse, “It’s such an intimate space, and I was acting with amazing actors that I admire. I learned a lot about myself as an actor.  Before you have doubts, but when you are a put into a very challenging position and you achieve it you realize anything is possible.”

KINO is inspired by every image he sees on Instagram, “even the bad ones. But if I have to pin down on a creator I would have to say the team behind Blade Runner 2049. The director, Denis Villeneuve, and his team absolutely blew my mind.  It just reminded me why I want to create visuals and why I want to tell stories.”

And there’s a few exciting things in the pipeline, “At the moment I’m writing a spec screenplay for an agency I hope I can direct, and I’m also working with a few clients – I also work as a photographer and lighting technician at a West London studio and we paired up together and launched a production company. We hope this will take us to the next level and produce stunning images and commercials for our clients.”

For more of KINO’s photography, check out kinography.co.uk

FGUK MAGAZINE - THE FILE

Had the privilege to photograph Brian Vluggen for FGUK MAGAZINE.  I wanted to spice the photography session and play with desire, hunger and loneliness.  

Photograph at my home studio in Notting Hill. 

Oliver Spencer Party

I had such an amazing time snapping away @ The Oliver Spencer party.  The store is literally around the corner from where I live. It's one of my favorite fashion brands. I'll definitely be hitting up the store for some clothes!:) 

Sponsored:  by Portobello Road Gin

The Love of Leather

Angel Zhu

Beijing model, Angel Zhu, flies to London to shoot a couple of shots with me at my Nothing Hill studio. She had three pieces of amazing leather jackets and a fur from Zara. I used 800 box speed film, shot it with my trust Nikon F5. Did a stand development for 6 hours to get it as contrasty as possible. 

Test shoot -

D1 models & Dancassab Leather

Had a dope day shooting for D1 models and Dancassab Leather.  

New face Angelina Murphy, she absolutly smashed it.  Angelina has a very angelic face. I wanted to give her bit of edge to her portfolio.

My stylist Michaela Efford hooked me up with Dancassab Leather. The brand let us hold leather for the shoot and the rest is history. 

 

London Fashion Week Mens 2017

Backstage Photography

I decided this year, not do runway. I have no problem with runway, I have no problem being in the pits with the dozen photographers competing and yelling at each other for the best shots.

I just thought I'll pass this time and save myself the headache, along with the neck pain that is runway photography. 

Instead I took it upon myself with the help of magazines & pr agencies of course to capture backstage images for various different fashion designers at this years,  London Fashion Week Mens.  

D. GNAK was my favorite hands down. 

"D.GNAK is the menswear label of Korean designer Kang Dong Jun. Born in Seoul, Kang trained at New York’s Parson’s School of Design and launched D.GNAK with a debut show at 2008 F/W Seoul Fashion Week"

 http://www.londonfashionweekmens.com/designers_profile.aspx?DesignerID=3149

 "The brand’s defining characteristic is tailored clothing with twisted details; clothing that is achromatic in colour and innovative in silhouette. The name D.GNAK is formed from the mirrored reflection of Kang’s name. It expresses his fascination with disruption, eclecticism and experimentation.

In that vein, D.GNAK is a label that reveals and conceals at the same time, inviting engagement with the wearer while retaining a level of mystique. Kang’s vision for D.GNAK is popular avant-garde - a brand that stands at the intersection of the underground and the mainstream; the inventiveness of directional fashion delivered to the wider men’s market without compromise in quality or cut"  

 http://www.dgnak.kr

So I wanted to capture the brands essence. And keep true to the clothing and style that is DGNAK. 

KOREAN FILM NOIR? 

Instead of bringing my 800E NIKON, I brought my trusty NIKON F5 with a 24-70mm 2.8 ED series ZOOM.  

For those that know about photography you might be thinking... WTF?!  "You're shooting backstage images on film" "Are you mad?" 

The answer is no.. "I'm not mad... Maybe a little" I really wanted to test my exposure skills.

I went to the Kodak lab in Clerkenwell and got myself some KODAK 800 portra film and put that sucker to the test.

I pushed the 800 to 1600 ISO... followed up by a stand development of 4 hours... 

I prayed and prayed the images didn't come up super grainy. I wanted a very contrast look to it, slightly over exposed -

A sort of Korean film noir/ crime thriller was the vibe I intend. 

I was incredibly happy with the images, and so was my editor at FGUK magazine. 

I of course cleaned up the grain on lightroom and re- added them back again...

I really wanted to put my skills to the test..

I will always recommend to use digital for assignments... especially for fashion week.  Editors want the images right away.  

I had a 24 hour window... which is rare... so I had time to develop.  

more images below ...