Styling is an art. But it’s also a science. And as with any science – it’s good to know the rules before you break them. Understanding the 5 fundamentals of photo shoot styling will not only take the pressure off planning your photo shoot, it will also allow your photographer to shoot a series of portraits that are on-point with your personality and vision.
Texture is created by the fabrics you wear and the way in which you layer them. Heavy knits, denim, crochet, leather, lace, tweed and ruffles are all key in creating texture and dimension to your images. Textured fabrics allow the photographer to play with light and shadow, as different fabrics absorb and reflect light in very different ways. Texture is extremely important in black and white images as it brings that pop without the use of colour.
Colour is one of the key elements of any photo shoot. Your colour pallet determines the mood of a portrait, therefore it’s important to combine the right colours to achieve the look and feel that you want. A simple technique that stylists use is to combine colours from opposite ends of the colour wheel, also known as colour blocking. This creates a high-contrast yet classy effect.
You can use a similar principle to create a softer pallet by combining different shades of the same neutral colour. Or you can bring a neutral outfit to life with a pop of colour. A little black dress, for example, can go from boring to bold with the addition of some bright red shoes.
Remember, colour styling goes deeper than just the outfits you bring in. It includes the colour of your hair and make-up, your props and even the photographers choice of backdrop.
Layering is the bringing together of the first 3 fundamentals of photo shoot styling into a single cohesive outfit. The same way that opposites attract on the colour wheel, mixing different lengths and proportions is key to achieving the perfect layered look.
With the exception of a dance shoot, nobody wants to be swimming in a sea of fabric. An easy way to avoid this is to balance voluminous items with slim cuts, such as a textured chunky knit sweater with plain skinny jeans. The same applies for mixing short pieces up top with longer items down the bottom, and vice-versa. If you’re worried about your waistline when layering, then consider a cinched belt to create flattering curves and an instant hourglass figure.
Accessories are important to a fashion shoot because they create contrast and a point of focus. They are also a great way to express your personality! Accessories can be used to make a simple outfit more dynamic or to draw attention to a certain area. I.e. long earrings draw people’s eyes to your mouth; a necklace to your cleavage.
Accessories can also be used as props in a photo shoot. When people get nervous they tend to fidget, so having a hat or watch to play with can help the subject to feel more comfortable on camera. Bringing accessories such as hats, scarfs, jewellery or anything along these lines allows the photographer to mix up the photo shoot without having to do multiple wardrobe changes. This is great if you want more variety in your shoot.
Doing a photo shoot is all about exploring different sides of your personality. It’s important to wear clothes that you feel comfortable in, but at the same time it’s a chance to be bold and an opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You know those sky high heels that you haven’t dared to wear out yet? Well they will give you killer legs in a photo shoot and thankfully you won’t have to do a lot of walking!
While the fundamentals described here are a set of tried and tested rules, it’s also fun to break the rules. If you want to wear red velvet flairs and a pink tunic, then don’t let anybody stop you wearing red velvet flairs and a pink tunic! This is your photo shoot, so own it and make it you!