1. Don’t be afraid to be “bad”.
The beauty of fashion editorial photography is in the art of creating a reality that does not exist. Using tools such as lighting, the model’s body language, clothing, make-up and hair we demonstrate the latest trends and style while also provoking emotion and mood. Unlike commercial or lifestyle photography where we sometimes see a happy world with perfect smiling models, fashion editorial does not have to evoke pure happiness. Sadness, confusion, depression, indifference and anger all have their place there. If you see the beauty – go for it, you may be pleased with what you have found.
2. Take responsibility.
Unlike shooting a number of separate fashion shoots or tests with your team where you can go with the flow, shooting fashion editorial requires a plan and a boss. One person on the set (you as a photographer or your creative director) or a team (photographer + creative director) must know the answers to all the possible questions. You must know what you want and why. What model type do you need and why? Will it be “plain”, “baby face”, “strong features”, “personality”? Who is your model on the set, what role is she playing? What kind of light will emphasize this mood in the best way? What kind of clothing? Do you need wind or color filters on the set? Are you shooting this editorial while keeping in mind that postproduction will make a huge impact on it afterwards? By the way, which lip color you think will be better for a close up? Do you want the make-up artist to add fake eyelashes as well? Do not be afraid to take responsibility and state what you think is the best.
3. Create a story.
Usually a fashion editorial consists of 10-12 shots, which have a common theme. It have to be the model’s emotions, the lighting, the clothing choices, hair and make-up. In the end all shots are tied together to create one story. Think of a large family where the children look alike but still have their differences. By the rules of high fashion editorial, each shot has to show a separate outfit. Here is where the stylist evaluates the project and determines the looks to create. This is a valuable stylist’s skill – to collect multiple items from 5-8 different designers and put them together creating cohesive looks. Choose this team member very carefully!
4. Be trendy.
In fashion editorial photography, we are living life 6 months ahead. While people are enjoying their summer vacations we are already in the “cold mode” shooting fall/winter issues. Many photographers underestimate the role of trends. As a result, they find themselves at the bottom of the editor’s lists with many unpublished editorials. Be trendy. Research the latest news in fashion, model castings, and the latest make-up and hair looks. Be on the top of the game, feel the moment, be the first who to give the hottest trend in the shoot. Show to the magazines that you are the one. If you are looking for a more professional approach, team up with a creative director. He or she knows what the hottest eyeshadow color is and who the most promising fresh face in the city is at the latest Chanel show. So now you know that it is better to not push your neon 1980’s style editorial when the entire world is crazy about dark gothic fashion. Nevertheless, do not be disappointed your 1980’s chance will come; fashion goes in circles.
5. Choose wisely.
Take your time to choose the right shots. This is the “1 billion dollar decision”. The composition, model’s facial expressions, clothing condition, and body language – everything has to be perfect. Include different crops and make the layout that tells the visual story with it’s own beginning, culmination and ending. Tip: since your editorial is your “baby” and sometimes you will not be able to choose between two amazing images, show them both to a random person not connected to fashion industry. Don’t give them much time, just a minute or two. Psychologists say that human eye is unconsciously eager to see perfection. A person who does not know the technical details will unconsciously choose the image that he or she likes to look at the most. Trust me it works!
Be sure to check out Julia Morris’ class on creative direction in NYC this summer.