This past weekend Dan and I went scouting for places to shoot some style shots and showcase a few of my newer pieces. It was as much an excuse to be outside in the beautiful weather as it was to hunt for interesting spots to take pictures. Dan knows a lot more about photography than I do but he’s still not the most decisive photographer, so we normally end up messing around and taking as many pictures as we can in the hope that I don’t hate all of the pics. But because I don’t own a DSLR of my own, we decided that in order to get the best results from the remaining time we have with my Dad’s camera, that we should have a game plan before we actually commit to a shoot location. Surprise, surprise a few of the test shots weren’t bad!
Like a lot of you out there, I’m extremely hard on myself when it comes to what I think is an acceptable “publishable” pic. It’s too easy for me to focus on the flaws. If things could be better with a picture then I’m not going to want to post it. What that means is that because I’m such a perfectionist I haven’t kept you guys up to speed with what’s new in my closet. Weather permitting, hopefully that will change because I’d like to get some outdoor shots of the new dress I got from Free People. But what are the keys to a successful personal style photo session?
Free People Ribbed Up Maxi Cardigan – I’ve been living in this. I call it my superhero sweater.
1) Have a (flexible) game plan – it’s easy to pick up a new jacket or skirt and think, “I’m gonna throw this on and snap some shots”, but if you really wanna put your best foot forward you’re going to want to thoroughly plan your look from head toe, and not just for one type of light or one type of setting. If I’ve learned anything from the few shoots I’ve done it’s that you don’t really know what to expect until you’re out there snapping away. You also don’t want to look miserable if it’s colder or brighter than anticipated (you see how I’m using my sweater as a blanket and look pretty…chilly?). Give yourself a lot of options – bring a few choice companion pieces to stay on track but also mix it up to really find what works. If this means bringing a bag of extra clothing or shoe options with you, then do that.
2) Lighting can be your best friend or your worst enemy. This obviously varies from person to person but play around with what light is most flattering for your skin and makeup combinations. Then, and only then, consider what light works best with the colors of the pieces you’re putting together. Dan is my light guru. Before him I think I thought that more sun automatically equaled better light. And while that is actually true most the time, shadows and the angle of the light are just as if not more important. Basically you don’t want to shoot in direct sun while the sun is right above you (midday). Shadows add definition and character to pictures, so play with them. However, the best time to shoot is usually early in the morning or right before sunset – aka the ‘golden hour‘.
3) Framing is extremely important. What’s behind you? How tight of a shot do you want? What depth of field is the most flattering? The most interesting? People love crystal clear, beautifully focused photos, where every detail no matter at what distance is crisp and in focus. There is definitely a context for pictures like these, but they’re boring. Shifting the depth of field to only focus on the pieces you’re trying to show is the easiest way to add emphasis to the composition of a photo. Plus – not every picture needs to be perfectly centered. If the backdrop to your shot is a beautiful landscape why not put that landscape to work for you and bring it into your shot? And always try to keep the texture and color of your outfit in mind when picking a suitable shot location. Contrasting the style of your look with the context of the photo can really work but it can also be distracting or even take away from the quality of the pic. SO in short, don’t try to make every shot like a retail website: centered, focused and squared. Have some fun.
I’m certainly no expert on most of these points, and really I’m only repeating a lot of stuff Dan has told me, but I’m excited by the possibilities of future photo shoots now that I know that the style of your photos is just as important as the style in your photos.