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EFF SOURCE Fashion business success without compromise

26 February 2014

4 Key Reasons Why Your Imagery Might Not Be Working

Contributor Alice Wilby


SOURCE Columnist Alice Wilby lends her expertise in fashion styling and photography to tell you everything you need to know to curate a good photoshoot despite a limited budget.

Whilst editing Eco Age and Futurefrock I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of press shots. Images where someone has forgotten to iron the clothes. Outfits so over-styled the effect is more theatre than fashion. It’s a shame because the product may be great but if the picture isn’t strong enough, it’s just not going to make it to the page.

Getting it right can be tricky and understandably so, sometimes the photo shoot is a financial and creative expense you didn’t or couldn’t budget for.

However these images are the final point of communication for your product. They represent all the hard work energy and pride you have invested. You haven’t spent months fine-tuning your collection just to let your brand down at the final hurdle have you?

No? Good, I thought not. So how to proceed?

The creative team is the corner stone of your shoot. Yes the thought of overwhelming costs of a professional team may make you wince but do not be tempted to skimp. In this digital age these images will be immortal. You buy cheap, you buy twice. So start as you mean to go on.

Cover image: Styling by Alice Wilby, Top by Ivanna Basilotta, Jewellery by Ute Decker, Kerstin Laibach, CRED, Fifi Bijou, Oak

1. Did you hire a professional Photographer?

Everyone has a digital camera these days. And wow, have you seen how much professional photographers actually cost! It can’t be too hard to shoot a few images and retouch them in Photoshop can it? Unless you moonlight as a successful fashion photographer, don’t do it. Equally don’t be tempted to hire a student. Bad photography is easy to spot.

This isn’t just about lighting and re-touching, it’s about experience. An experienced fashion photographer will be able to draw out the best from their team. They will be able to direct the model to capture the best poses for the clothes through to working closely with the stylist to oversee the hair and make up.

There is nothing more frustrating than going to edit your images and struggling to find usable ones because the photography isn’t up to scratch. Awkward poses and shots up the models nose are all too common; it’s not a good look.

Studio Jux – www.studiojux.com

Photographer: Ewelina Stechnij, Stylist: Alice Wilby, MakeUp and Hair: Agnieszka Borowa

2. Did you cast the right Model?

Models get a lot of stick for having it easy, but as anyone who’s squirmed awkwardly in front of a camera can tell you, posing well without looking like you are trying to win the world pouting championship or out-stare the photographer, is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to most.

It is tempting to ask your really pretty friend, mate’s younger sister, someone you’ve found on Facebook, but the reality is this is one cost-cutting idea that just isn’t going to work.

There is a common misconception that using a real/normal model ties in nicely to the core ethical values of your business. Whilst this is true on one level, unless executed to perfection, the overarching message you are giving the fashion industry and the consumer is that you don’t take your product seriously.

You need to call in a professional, one who will be the right ‘face’ for your brand. This is crucial, because you are creating a story that your target market should want to aspire to, identify with and buy into. Casting the model is something a skilled Stylist and Photographer can help you with.

Michelle Lowe-Holder SS14 – http://www.lowe-holder.com

“Into the Night” styling by Alice Wilby

3. Did you get yourself a good Stylist?

It is very tempting not to use a Stylist, you know your brand inside out, why pay someone to faff about with the clothes when you can manage it yourself?

Because, a good Stylist does more than just iron the clothes. The key is finding someone who gets your brand aesthetic. This is easy to do, take a look at their portfolio. Do they specialise in your sector – i.e. womenswear – would their style work well with your brand? Yes? Hire them!

The Stylist is a fresh pair of eyes on your brand and will be able to see your product in a new light. They have invaluable insight into the industry and will work with you to ensure you communicate your brand image in the most on-trend, commercially relevant way to reach your customer.

The Stylist will be able to curate the right creative team, from Photographer to Hair and Make-Up and Model, ensuring that all the above elements work well together.

Remember less is more when promoting your collection, it is all about the clothes and the subtleties of hair and make-up and the Stylist will understand this. Too many shoots get ruined because the outfits were over accessorised or the Hairstylist went wild. The sole responsibility of these images is to promote and sell your product, let the clothes speak for themselves.

Hair: Alexander Turnbull, Photo: Andrew O’Toole, Make-up: Victoria Baron, Styling: Alice Wilby

4. Does the final set of images actually represent your brand?

If you have answered the above questions correctly then the answer to this question should be yes! If the answer is no then you need to go back to the drawing board.

Never underestimate the power of a focus group to gain some much-needed insight. This will in turn help you to pick your creative team.

As mentioned above, your Stylist and Photographer will ensure you align your style of imagery with your target market. Don’t be afraid to reshoot, rebrand or source an entirely new creative team, this is often part of a brand’s journey and something that even established labels do.

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