Diary of a Fashion Stylist (in training): the first photo shoot


One of the final shotsAs part of the fashion styling course that I have been studying, we have been learning about all aspects of styling, be it 'personal styling', where we work with an individual to help them put together a look, or 'editorial styling' where we put together looks for photoshoots to be printed in magazines.

Editorial styling is considered by some to be the more glamorous end of styling as you get to work with statuesque models as well as professional photographers, plus hair and make-up artists. We were told that we would have three photoshoots at various points along the way in the course and I don't mind telling you I felt excited and worried sick in equal measure at the thought of them. 

Ready and waiting!I had hoped that whilst I was learning about styling I would be free to make lots of mistakes and take time to figure out where I had gone wrong and how to make my next attempt better in private! Sadly I quickly realised that having to style photoshoots like this, would make all my mistakes public. Not only would my fellow students see what I was doing but so would the industry professionals I would be working with; worse still, everything would be captured in print for the world to see. GULP!!

Our first shoot was given the theme of 'Urban Decay'. Let me explain: every photoshoot is given a theme from which to take inspiration, just as any designer would do when putting a collection together. Our aim as stylists was to take this theme as an inspirational starting point and then go off in what ever stylistic direction we felt worked for us.

For 'Urban Decay' I looked at images of broken down old buildings and derelict wastelands. Whilst doing so, what I started to notice in almost every image was colour of some description. The more I looked, the more I saw colour. Colour in the discarded sofas and children's toys, colour in the vibrant graffiti and even colour in the plants and flowers that seemed to thrive in these wastelands.

My moodboard!So since colour was what my eye was drawn to, I took this as inspiration for my final look for the photoshoot. When trying to communicate their theme, every designer, stylist, photographer or style expert  puts together something called a 'moodboard'. Now, I'm happy to confess I've had plenty of moods and I've sometimes been bored but that's the closest I've ever gotten to a 'moodboard' in my life! So yet another learning curve for me.

For my moodboard for 'Urban Decay' I needed to put together images that would allow other people to understand what I was trying to achieve. So I put lots of images of brightly coloured graffiti along with images of brightly coloured clothes by a designer who had just shown at New York Fashion Week, Duro Olawu. Even though 'decay' was the theme, bright blocks of colour were what I wanted to emphasise. On the day of the first shoot we were all given an address (base camp) in east London where we set up our clothes, shoes, jewellery and accessories.

As there are 15 students on my course and only one photographer, one hairdresser and one make-up artist, you kind of have to just do what you're told in terms of where you are going to be photographing your look. We were told to bring along 'tears' (images) for hair and make-up to give them an idea of what we were trying to achieve.

Model having hair and make-upThat said, with 15 students and only moments between each student's turn, there really isn't much time to finesse the look and it was very much a scramble to get the model out of the clothes she had been wearing for her previous photos and into your dress and accessories and then get her to the location.

The area around the building we were in was completely covered in graffiti which was brilliant for our looks. The photographer on the day, Edu (a very talented Spanish photographer) decided my look would be better shot in a junk room inside the building on an old chaise longue surrounded by detritus made up of old paint cans and dust rags. 

I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed for a moment but then I realised that as a photographer working in the fashion industry, Edu does this kind of thing every day so I decided to trust his eye. Another thing I learned was that different photographers work in different ways to create different looks.

Edu likes to work with a lot of flash on his camera, almost overexposing his subjects, so I quickly realised I wasn't going to end up with a dark, rich, glossy look but rather one that was a little more raw and exposed. My model wore a pretty cobalt blue dress that I customised myself with panel inserts on the bodice and contrast yellow silk fringe on the hem, paired with a white jacket and a polka dot collar.

There is also a flash of cerise pink on the reverse of the collar which can't be seen in any of the pictures – but I know its there! I shortened the arms to three quarter length which was more flattering and elegant and added a stunning Butler and Wilson Necklace with brightly coloured skulls and cruciforms.

Edu the photographer in actionMy shoot was over in moments. Weeks of work and preparation and that was it, done. It was my first ever photoshoot, my first ever time styling a model and working with fashion industry professionals. Not to mention the first time I had ever customised a dress and a coat. I have been acquiring and discovering skills I never thought I had or would need!

I'll be honest with you, it is all incredibly hard work and takes up a lot of time but I am thoroughly enjoying it. This experience has tapped into my creative side and I am now looking at clothes and how people dress in a whole new way.

As Diana Vreeland, fashion icon and columnist and editor at both Harpers Bazaar and Vogue once said about fashion, 'the eye has to travel'. My eye is constantly travelling, looking at clothes, shoes and accessories like never before. I've always been interested in fashion but now I feel like I have just really woken up to it. I hope my eye continues to travel for a long time yet!

As much as I am enjoying my fashion its great to still have lots of variety at work at QVC. As you may know I love my fitness and nutrition and this Saturday I am pleased to say I have a full hour of Vitamix which I have been using at home myself, making fresh, healthy soups, juices and even ice cream all in minutes! Do join me.

Until next time,

Miceal. x

1 Comment

  1. Eyebrow Bar March 17, 2014 at 8:28 am -  Reply

    Very detailed post! To be sure with above poster! I’ve your site bookmarked!

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