Regardless of your budget, photoshoots are integral to your business because they are the key ingredient in your brand’s projection to the consumer. Especially in light of Covid, the ability to get your collections out to the market in the most appealing way and consistently true to your vision is incredibly important.
In working with a client recently on prep for their shoot, I was reminded of how much creative thinking and strategic planning goes into it. From months beforehand, while still in the design phase, to the oversight and partnership needed as it gets closer to the day of the shoot, designers play an integral part in the process. It’s in everyone’s best interest that the collections look as great as possible and that the marketing team has what they need to in order to do so. And not unlike all other aspects within a brand, it takes a village to make it happen.
Being prepared is key. We all want our product to shine and get everyone involved excited. I’ve always found a great shoot foreshadows strong reaction from real consumers because in a way it’s kind of like a small focus group. The last thing you want to happen is to get to the day of and not be ready for what could come up. Here is some advice which might help to mitigate issues.
All Hands-on Deck!
Whether your company is large or small, every function is involved in the endeavor. At the onset you need to come together and map out some key deliverables;
1. Determine how many styles you want to photograph including size and color. This question is an important one because on both ends it’s a costly endeavor. For the vendor(s) to make samples and for the time, energy and money that it costs you to pull off this event. Here is a format that will make it easier.
2. Ideally the shoot date needs to align with product deliverables. Because ultimately, it’s in best interest to have the designs fit as well as possible. In addition, doing so prevents you from having to ask the vendor for too many ‘favors’ that are not reasonable. This is a relationship that you all want to protect. Plan out how closely you will be to a fit approved size set when you need the product to shoot.
3. If it’s a matter of a week or two, decide if you can wait for graded fit sizes versus the whole size run so as not to upset the normal product cadence or take the chance that the sizes won’t be made correctly. It’s a balance of projecting size inclusivity and doing so within the time and cost of the vendor and your company.
The Countdown Begins
Along the way there will need to be a series of critical conversations to ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page and that you are all aligned on expectations. Some examples below;
1. Ensure everyone understands how accurate the color on these samples will be relative to your targets. It’s reasonable for vendors to deliver samples that are 80% accurate to proposed standards. Sometimes that might mean that a trim or stitch will be off from the body. That’s why you want to get in samples at least a week ahead of time from the actual shoot date. This gives room for local dyeing, markering, and even sewing if necessary.
2. Work with Product development and production partners on these requests for samples and ensure that you are all consistently speaking to and about this need over the weeks and months prior to shoot.
3. Have a clear understanding from the marketing team what the shot count will be and what you all believe the collection priorities are. Identify for your partners what product attributes are most important to capture. For example, if a design has a side or back detail to focus on, as well as a specific part of the body that it accentuates, that’s a few shots needed right there. Create a list that optimizes that number of styles that can be photographed as well as some second priorities to include if it’s going so well that you are ahead of time.
1. Determine who the samples are being sent to and when. Cushion plenty of time particularly with Covid for this to happen. Then plan the pre-fits a few days in advance of the shoot. Wherever possible have size options for the model to try on at the initial prep fitting. Even if they typically know their size accurately, they might not know it in your product.
2. Be prepared with a model kit of styling necessities because with all the prep in the world you never know; Safety pins, plastic Ziplock bags to organize samples by look and model, sharpie, masking tape, crotch liner, cookies, cutlets, hook and eye extender. Stitch witchery
3. A client of mine developed a genius tool for organizing all relevant model information. I am sharing a similar version here. We used and expanded on it to make the prep fits so much easier. Whether hired model or a friend doing you a favor, there still needs to be something to use as a tracker for how to organize and remember all the important information that is too much to keep in anyone’s head;
a. Size and color that looks best on each person.
b. Front, back, and side photos of each model in each look
c. Feedback is a gift – document the good, the bad (hopefully very little of this), and the thought-provoking! You never know where your next great idea will come from.
d. Documentation of day-of and post-production notes.
In this same round of recent pre-fits, we had such good praise from the models we shared with marketing too. They, in turn, decided to do quick videos to ask them about on the day of shoot.
Zoom in particular helps here because, with everyone’s permission, you can record it. This way, constructive conversations between designer and model can be shared with marketing and team who was spearheading it. From what I have experienced over the years, stylists really welcome the feedback of the designer’s POV on intended aesthetic and fit. This way they understand what the garment should look like on body and are not solely responsible for how the garments fit which relieves pressure overall in the moment because no one is guessing.
Above all, through the process think of contingencies. Remember creative thinking doesn’t stop at the designing of the garments. Those might include understanding what colors are most easily transformed into another during post production, if a vendor tells you they can’t make as many samples as you want. Or it might be as basic as needing to wash underwear in between because you know you specifically want two people of similar size to wear the same color (ask vendor how they were dyed and should this be an issue?) or use those bathing suit liners to help. It’s the simple what if’s that thought about early on, don’t become major catastrophes.
Hopefully these tips have helped to give more insight and less hassle in the process. Our mission is for you to have less pain, more gains in all aspects of your Brand’s development.
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