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Fashion Photoshoot Checklist for Shopping Centre Marketers

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A fashion photoshoot checklist to ensure success—and more sales!

If you are a shopping centre marketer planning your first fashion shoot, or fine-tuning your current approach, review this checklist! It will help you plan like a pro to get the shots you want, and minimize the risk of things going wrong.

Vision Board
Be sure to have a clear vision of what you want. A Vision Board captures what you are looking for in terms of photography style (i.e. backgrounds, props, lighting); type of model (i.e. age, size, ethnicity, hair colour/length); desired poses; desired hair styles; desired make-up approach; colour trends; fashion trends (i.e. clothing, shoes, purses, jewellery, other); product shots.

Even if the style you are seeking is “everyday value,” don’t be afraid to push and elevate what this means. Style can be both aspirational and accessible, and in most cases, showing “average” will not increase sales.

Shot List
In addition to the Vision Board, you will need a Shot List. A Shot List is a list of the desired shots along with details regarding each shot. When reviewing the Vision Board and Shot List with the photographer and team, be sure to emphasize the story and mood you want to convey with the shots.

The Briefing
The Vision Board and Shot List will help you brief the many players involved in a successful fashion shoot. Fashion shoots are expensive and the stakes are high: you have a limited window within which to achieve your goal. Briefing clearly and consistently will help you make sure everyone is working toward the same goal.

The Team
Having the right people on your team the day of the photoshoot is absolutely critical. Here are some considerations when establishing your team.

Stylist
A stylist is the key to a great product pull and styling. What to look for aside from experience? Style, reputation and familiarity with your chosen photographer—these can all have an impact on the outcomes. Two other important things to consider: how strong are their relationships with the brands you want to pull and are they extremely detail-oriented? If you get all of this right, chances are that you have a great stylist!

Hair and Make-Up Artist
Look for a hair and make-up artist with a great portfolio, a history of good relationships with models, stylists and photographers, and who is quick, flexible and able to work well under pressure. Yes, these are steep demands, but your hair and make-up artist will  have a significant influence in transforming your selected model into a vision that communicates the story you want to share with your target. Details matter.

Photographer
It goes without saying that choosing the right photographer is key. Be sure to look at past work—do they clearly demonstrate and give you confidence that they will be able to capture the style and approach you are seeking? Fashion photography is very different from wedding photography or studio product work. Look at the photographer’s editorial and advertising work for a sense of their style and the quality of their work. It’s also important to check their reputation for speed, delivery of final images, retouching capabilities and how they work with a team. The photographer you choose is a collaborator and a creative person that can really enhance a concept, so getting the right fit is crucial.

Model
Great models work for reputable agencies, so always start there (yes—we strongly recommend that you use a real model). Start by briefing your modeling agency representative so they can share portfolios of appropriate models for your project along with rates and availability. Always ask for Polaroids that are up-to-the-minute. You don’t want to be surprised with long hair if you’re expecting or wanting short hair.

Ideally, invite the photographer to join you for casting. This will let you get a sense of the chemistry between the photographer and model. Fashion shoots are a bit of a dance between the two, and you will be able to tell right away if there is a positive spark. You will also want to get a sense of a model’s personality, how she or he moves, confidence level and a gut sense of “fit” relative to the vision and the brand being represented.

There’s a trend toward using “older” models (i.e. 30 years +) to represent a key demographic for shopping centres. This is a great idea, but it can be hard to find the ideal older model. If this is the case, consider a younger model with styling elasticity—i.e. she can be styled to look older and more sophisticated.

Shoot Day Support
Make sure to have lots of support on the shoot day. Your stylist and his or her assistant will make sure every garment is steamed and fit to perfection; plus, all clothing and items need to be organized and easy to access. You will need someone to keep track of all the products involved in every shot including details such as brand, retailer and price. Consider using Evernote to keep track of photos and details; always double check that photo commitments made to retailers have been fulfilled.

Product Pull and Organization
Ideally, your budget enables you to work with a stylist for the product pull. This will help ensure that the ideas in the Vision Board are brought to life by a pro, versus relying solely on your own sense of style (as good as it may be!).

Also, make sure to pull way more product than you will need. Options will be your best friend, and there is nothing worse than having to shoot styles that do not capture the Vision (or simply do not work) because of a lack of product.

Be sure to have all the products organized, outfits reviewed and approved, and back-up ideas in place before the shoot begins. On the one hand, organization will pay dividends in terms of efficiency and peace of mind. On the other hand, be prepared to be flexible. Sometimes a great idea comes up out of the blue and/or plan A just isn’t working. The photoshoot is ultimately as much art as it is science.

Budget
You will need to set a budget and you will need to make sure that it can include everything. There are many obvious costs—photographer, model, stylists and so forth, but there are many costs that will be less obvious, particularly if you are new to the process: i.e. location scouting, usage fees, composite work, location insurance, van rentals, backdrops, location fees, generators—among others. Be sure to educate yourself, ask lots of questions and look to your agency for support to make sure you are covered and there are no surprises.

Shoot Day Management
On shoot day, it all comes together. Make sure everyone has a detailed call sheet so everyone knows what time they are ‘on’ and how the day will unfold in detail. Time is money and you do not want to get into a costly overtime situation. Also, make sure you have a system for providing feedback to the team members—ideally, all feedback goes to the Creative Director and he or she interprets it for the various collaborators on the shoot team.

Last of All
Enjoy the photoshoot and have confidence in your team. With careful planning, it will be a great day and you will have outstanding photography to help tell your customers your story, increase traffic and build sales at your shopping centre.

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