An Editorial Fashion Shoot in Milan
If you have been following this journal, then you will know that there is a particular reason that I came to Milano this summer. I wanted to find out about breaking into Fashion Photography while spending the summer in one of the most beautiful parts of Italy. What better place to start than Milan? One of the major fashion capitals of the world (and as I have been oft been told since my arrival here) -the birthplace of fashion.
Fashion photography is as much about selling a life style as is it is about a piece of clothing, so it offers the photographer a lot more room to explore their creative side. As a portrait and travel photographer, I felt the best way to develop my existing skills was to enroll on a course with Instituto Italanio Di Fotographia (IIF). IIF was created in 1993 and it is a multifunctional school that provides comprehensive photography training, offering courses taught in English such as the Photography and Fashion course which I have joined, but also Food Photography, Fashion Beauty Photography as well as other basic photography courses.
The Photography and Fashion course brings together the key concepts of both photography and fashion and provides participants with an introductory knowledge of the fashion business and the role of the fashion photographer within the industry. Getting an insider perspective and being able to interact with modelling agencies, established fashion photographers, fashion magazines and fashion designers makes it very interesting indeed.
Fashion photographer and "IKI" fashion magazine creator, Piero Visconti has been leading us through the photography part of the process, beginning with: how to develop an idea and create a mood board. How to contact an agency, organise a casting and select the right model (not as easy as you may think). The correct way to deal with your team and organise your assistant(s), stylist make-up and hair stylist and so on; through to the shooting day and eventually post production and submission.
Already during this first week (of this two week course), I have been led through these steps and have met a variety of models from two of Milano's modelling agencies and have been asked to select one as well as a back-up for a studio shooting at the end of this week and two more for the following week for a location shoot. Participants on the course have been asked to manage both of these shoots themselves, in a simulated exercise to create an editorial* for the "Sexy Issue" of "IKI" magazine (which was actually was published using that theme in April 2011).
Running parallel to all of this, (for the course is split between two locations, one being at IIF and the other at Instituto Di Moda Burgo, an established fashion design school in Milan ) we have learned about fashion styles, structure and timings of a collection in the context of the world's fashion calendar. Brands charter and fashion trends as well as some of the politics and approaches one must take once the decision has been made to go into the business. More on this in a later posting.
in the meantime, here are some of my "backstage" photographs from today's demonstration shoot at the studio in IIF with Piero Visconti; who modeled for us how we should run our own shoot in response to that editorial* brief from "IKI" magazine.
Just what is an "editorial" ? I hear you ask. In order to better answer this as well as explain these differences in fashion photography categories, I am going to quote from Photoshelter's free online educational guide: "Breaking into Fashion Photography":
Let’s start by breaking down fashion photography into some categories. Each requires a little different set of skills, but many fashion photographers cross over to work in several areas.
Fashion magazines like Vogue, GQ, Elle, and Harper’s Bazaar dominate the newsstand and are still one of the most highly coveted outlets for fashion photographers. Fashion magazines devote dozens of pages per issue to editorial fashion stories, and many other types of magazines publish regular fashion stories, including city magazines, health and fitness magazines, and digital magazines. Each story has a theme, like a type of clothing, color palate, or environment. Whether shot in a studio or on location, the focus is on producing an engaging narrative, one that compels the reader to linger and study the pages—while also showing the clothing and accessories in a flattering way.
Catalog images have a very clear mission—to show clothing and accessories in a clear, flattering way that will inspire shoppers to buy. While this could mean very straightforward product shots, there can be a lot of room for creativity in catalog photography. Just like fashion magazines, some designers and brands also aim to tell stories with their catalog photography by shooting on location or dreaming up creative sets and environments.
Fashion advertising photography can mean a wide range of things, from straightforward magazine and digital ads to over-the-top billboard campaigns and everything in between. It can encompass high fashion concepts or look more like catalog work depending on the brand and goals of a particular campaign.
Another area of fashion photography is covering happenings like fashion weeks, runway shows or celebrity- centric events for media outlets, brands, trend analysis agencies and blogs. Skills in photographing live events are critical, but successful fashion event photographers also need to be knowledgable and immersed in the industry so they know what’s important to shoot during what can be hectic, fast-paced events.
Fashion vs. Beauty vs. Portrait
It’s also important to note that there is a distinction between fashion photography, beauty photography and portrait photography. Fashion photography is ultimate- ly focused on clothing and style, often shown on mod- els. Beauty photography is about promoting cosmetics or hair products. Since beauty and fashion go hand-in- hand, the line can blur. Many fashion and beauty pho- tographers are capable of shooting either, but usually
In the creation of an editorial there are many variables - not simply those created by the clothing and the accessories. Piero showed us the importance of prior planning, as well as the importance of good team work. Having a good relationship with your make-up and hair stylist, your stylist and assistant(s) is fundamental. This can be achieved, in part, by establishing clarity about your vision for the shoot long before it begins. Things have to flow on a shoot like this and they have to happen quickly .
The analogy of visualising your editorial shoot like a storyboard for a film is a good one. You have to consider your shoot as "sections" in a story and break down each clothing change or hair or make-up change into logical "sections" of a series of photographs which will have an overriding visual relationship with each other. Each section moves the story forward along with a sequence of events, propelled by your team, that is similar to a scene change in a theatre show or a new chapter in a film. As the photographer only you have final say on all matters, as your role becomes like that of a film director on set.
My turn to take on all this direction will be tomorrow and I am very excited to see how it all comes together. I have already designed my mood board - I have (I think) a strong theme, a vision for make-up and hairstyles, the right model, and hopefully the stylist will have the clothes to go with her. I have designed my light set up and I am feeling ready to go for my first fashion shoot in Milan.
Its seems like we have learned a lot in a short time on this course and I am looking forward to updating you with more from Piero Visconti's shoot today with Jovanna Petrovic from WhyNot Models, Milan, as well as what happens on both of my studio and location shoots for this editorial challenge. I would like to share my process later.
There will of course be more images from the vibrant streets of Milano to come too.
Ciao for now.
I am happy to update this now that I have seen some of the photographs Piero Visconti took during this session appearing in the August 2014 "Connective Tissue" issue of 'IKI' magazine.