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6 Tips for Effective and Efficient Photo Shoots

ambercoppings : July 12, 2010 1:48 pm : Misc., Spotlight, Sustainable Business Tips

I have been running my business for about 4 years and just had my first real fashion photo shoot. Well, let me clarify…my first fashion shoot with a real fashion photographer. Kristin Cofer, a fab lady and photographer, was gracious enough to do this shoot just days before she moved to San Francisco to be Modcloth’s new photographer.

Anyway, I thought it might be helpful for some folks who may be thinking about hiring, or bartering with a photographer to offer my tips on how to run a photo shoot efficiently and effectively. Feel free to add something I forgot in the comments!

1) Find a photographer
It’s always good to make sure to see previous work. Even if you are asking a friend with some experience to be the photographer, make sure you really look at her style. Does it fit your product’s aesthetic? Does she have experience photographing your kind of product? Jewelry artists have different needs than clothing makers, so keep that in mind when you partner with a photographer.

2) Discuss your needs and the photographer’s needs before the shoot.

This includes knowing ALL fees up front. Ask if the fee includes any edits, is there a limit on number of hours spent, or photos taken? Do you need a CD of the photos rather than a zip file? Make sure you are on the same page from the beginning.

3) What’s your story?
What is the purpose of your photo shoot? Do you need product shots for an online shop, or lifestyle/editorial shots for an ad campaign? What story, or scene are you trying to create for your line/items?

Once you have figured out the overarching purpose of the shoot, break down what kind of looks you need. For Xmittens and amtextiles, my two lines of fashion accessories, I needed to show people using my items, so we planned on a golfing shot for a male model wearing Xmittens and then paired it with an Xmittens hat. Several other scenes were created and planned ahead of time. I also needed product shots that I could use online in my shops. Luckily, Kristin and I could do both in one shoot, but you may need more than one shoot to get all you need.

**Extra tip:Make sure to keep notes of your brainstorm!

4) Scout locations and create a schedule
Now that you know what kinds of shots you need and what story you are trying to tell, figure out where this will actually take place. Need only detail and product shots? You might be able to just use the photographer’s studio, your studio, a concrete wall, a fence background…just as long as it helps to tell the story and keeps things consistent, it won’t mean traveling all over the place to get your shots.

For my shoot, I drove around and scouted out many locations in an area of Pittsburgh that has a lot of different views and kinds of spaces. Then, I narrowed it down to 5 locations. Since amtextiles is very different from Xmittens in terms of the usual setting they might be worn (formal rather than casual), I had to plan time in between locations for costume changes for the models and travel time. Check out the photo for the last location where we paired both lines together for a wonderful shot!

** Extra Tip: Send the schedule to everyone involved and adjust it based on their feedback.

5) Find models and props
As you brainstorm looks and locations, you’ll start to see what kinds of models and props you need to best communicate the story of your work. Ask friends, actors, working models, aspiring models, outgoing relatives, maybe even people on the street (could work for some great guerilla-style marketing campaign!) to model your work. If you need 2 models at one time for a scene, make sure you schedule an overlap of models. If you only need 1 model at a time, schedule them in different increments of time. Trying to style 2 people at once is crazy!

If possible, hire an experienced model. It will be a good investment and will make the shoot go faster and better. However, that is a cost a lot of us cannot afford. So, offer gift certificates, or the products they will be wearing in the shoot as payment.

Try to show your product in use. Think of props that can help communicate the benefits of your item. Ask around for people who might have these props. They might even suggest some other interesting items to use!

**Extra tip: Always bring food and water for everyone. No low blood sugar during shoots!

6) Ask for help
Can you hire, or ask a friend to be, an assistant? Styling the looks, working with the photographer, making sure you are getting all the shots you need while troubleshooting is a lot for 1 person to handle! It will go a lot smoother if you have someone there with a good eye that can help you spot the stray hair, the dirt on the hem, the lint on the lapel.

**Extra tip: I used to do all of my own photo shoots and will continue to photograph my own items, when needed. How did I gain the skills to use my camera to its best? I bartered with a photographer to give me some tips on how to use my own camera. It helped me skip over a large learning curve and get right to the good stuff. Consider doing this and save some money, though you will still have to invest the time to do your own shoots.


Costa Rica Inspiration!

ambercoppings : June 13, 2010 10:52 am : Inspirations, Misc., Spotlight, Studio Updates

I love to travel. It is really important for me to get away and be immersed in a different culture and environment.

It’s been 4 years since Adam and I had a big trip, so we decided we needed to go somewhere neither of us had been before- Costa Rica! It is gorgeous and inspiring.

We are not big photograph takers on vacations. Instead we sketch and pick up rocks and press flowers. However, for this trip I brought the camera so I could take pictures of details and textures and colors to be inspiring for my amtextiles line of hand-dyed textiles. Here’s some of the photos I know will help me create some new, beautiful textiles!

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Custom Aviator Adventurer Xmittens

ambercoppings : April 15, 2010 12:45 am : Custom work, Misc., Spotlight, Studio Updates

Oh, yes. That’s what the customer wanted and that’s what he’ll get! Made using a gently used green chenille sweater and a lighter green cotton sweater border. The rest of his outfit will have lots of burgundy, so I used red and burgundy threads to tie the outfit together (and have the power of red!).

Can’t wait to make some more upcycled Xmittens!

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Peace Silk

ambercoppings : April 4, 2010 1:07 am : Focus on Fabrics, Spotlight, Studio Updates

A really important goal of mine is to incorporate even more eco-friendly processes and materials into my life and business. One of the results of this goal is my exploration into Peace Silk. Peace Silk, or vegetarian silk, is made using silk that does not hurt the silkworm in the creation of the material. There are also many other kind of earth-friendly silks available, including “Tussah” wild silks. Wild Silks are gathered from wild silkworms after they have naturally expelled the silk from their bodies. Since these wild silkworms eat all sort of different kinds of trees, the silk from wild silkworms may be green, or red, or other colors! no dye needed!

Recently, I bought some of the silk organza peace silk. It has dyed wonderfully! It’s a bit thicker than more commercially available silk organza, but I think this will lend itself to my three-dimensional processes. It’s about 4 times more expensive than other silk organzas, though, so I am being very conservative in my use of it. I’ll post some photos of some finished pieces once their, ahem…finished!

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My very first handmade pendant

ambercoppings : April 1, 2010 12:27 am : Inspirations, Misc., Spotlight

My very first handmade copper pendant jumped over the Heinz Factory

It jumped over the Heinz Factory.

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