Friday, November 9, 2012

Diary of an Aspiring Stylist: Prepping for My 1st Shoot

I'm pretty pumped about this weekend. A friend of mine is a local model and has been encouraging me to get into the stylist game in my area. He actually referred me to a photographer and I'll be styling my first shoot on Sunday!

One thing I noticed while making sure I dot my i's and cross my t's was that there's not a ton of really in-depth content out there on how exactly one gets started with styling their first photo shoot. For instance, how do you pull clothes when you have no portfolio? What all are you expected to bring to a shoot?

Well, the dearth of good educational material has encouraged me to chronicle this adventure. :) Here's the first part of hopefully many posts on my experiences and what I've learned...


1. Book a gig. I was incredibly blessed since step one pretty much fell into my lap, thanks to my fabulous model friend. A photographer was looking to start getting some fashion/editorial shots added to her portfolio, and he recommended her using me. Solely based on his recommendation and our back and forth with questions and answers, she ended up picking me despite having not much to go by. Usually at this stage you'd be building a profile and a portfolio and reaching out to local models and photographers to offer your services.

2. Pull clothing. Experienced stylists have relationships with stores or PR agencies that will lend them clothing for free, for a small fee, or for a deposit. I have no experience and thus no relationships. So I started from scratch, reaching out to a number of local boutiques that research showed didn't have as much of a presence as some of the better known shops. (Lesser known stores are more likely to work with lesser known stylists than bigger and more recognizable stores are.) I emailed and emailed, reaching out to 10 local boutiques and not receiving a reply from any of them.

3. No really, you need to provide clothing. That's one thing I knew on instinct about being a stylist. So I was going to have to succumb to a "Stylist's own" byline on the photos. This is where the real work began. I started culling my wardrobe, picking out pieces that fit in line with the photographer's vision.

...and the piles begin...

4. Build the basics. I'm not sure how real stylists do it, but my first thought was to build the outfits with the clothes alone. I categorized my options and spread them all over the room so I could see them all at once. Then I was completely overwhelmed for a few minutes. It was so much clothing. I didn't know where to start. I had to change my mindset and pretend I was getting dressed for the next day and pick an outfit. Then I pretended I was packing for a trip and picked a few more. By that time I started feeling a lot more comfortable in my vortex of clothing, so it started to flow more.

Pairing and sorting adds a little bit of sanity to the piles.

5. Accessorize. The thought of pulling out all my shoes, bags, jewelry, and other accessories was even more overwhelming than step four was. I decided to segment it out and start with the shoes and bags, since I had fewer options and thought I could make the associations faster and easier.

Honestly it was hard to find shoes that didn't show significant signs of wear. But you wouldn't be able to tell from this photo.

6. Add finishing touches and last looks. To make sure I had the looks just right, I set out each outfit one at a time and tested a number of jewelry options before settling on the proper pieces. I arranged the look the way I wanted it to appear in photos, so I scrunched sleeves, tucked in tops, buttoned jackets, etc.

I didn't feel comfortable making jewelry decisions with this ordered chaos lying around.

7. Create a lookbook. I have no idea if stylists do this, but it seems pretty practical. I took photos of each look and uploaded them into an album. This way I have something to reference on the day of the shoot so I can remember exactly what I wanted out of each look. I sent my lookbook to the photographer and the men's stylist so they could use it as a reference if they'd like. It was a great opportunity to get feedback from them, too, so I had time to make any changes they suggested prior to the shoot.

An example of my lookbook shots. They were very informal since they were intended for personal use only.

  • Get started. You can't get booked if you're not trying. I started by following my friend's advice and building a profile on Model Mayhem. And expect to work for free until you build up your portfolio.
  • Get photos. You need to be able to show your work. Take photos of yourself or do what I did and spend a day having a fun photoshoot with friends or your awesome sister. :)
  • Get good lighting. When I was building the looks I had to move the pieces to the one part of the room that was really well-lit which was a bit of a hassle.
  • Get plenty of space. As you can see, a lot of clothes take up a lot of room. They usually say to prep twice as many looks as you'll need for the shoot, so it can really take over a space.
  • Get tools to groom garments. This is especially necessary if you are using your own items, as pilling and other signs of wear need to be gone before you can even think about using them for a shoot. A steamer is great because you can use it on delicate clothing as well as everyday fabrics, and you can get a decent one for pretty cheap. Everyone probably already owns a lint roller, and I am kind of obsessed with my fabric shaver. (And I have been ever since I was a child - I remember playing with my parents' fabric shaver as a child and cleaning up everyone's knitwear for fun when nobody else was around.)
  • Get going! The turnaround from the time you book a shoot to the actual shoot can be a week like I had, or it can be mere days or even hours. You don't have as much time as you may have expected, so you need to get moving and get to work.
  • My husband is very supportive and gracious. I've made a complete mess of our closet, bedroom, and have definitely cemented his accusations that I own way too much clothing. (But it was all so cheap at the thrift stores!)
  • I have a shameful amount of clothing and accessories. It was super helpful and convenient since I ended up needing to style the models using my own pieces, but man do I own a lot of stuff. See above bullet for my defense. ;)

More to come after the shoot...

1 comment:

  1. This is fabulous dear!!!! Love the post, it was really inspiring, I haven't tough of reaching out my local boutiques to start being an stylist.
    I'd love to see those pictures!!!! :-)