How to Build a Fashion Shoot

I'm in process of planning my 3rd fashion shoot of the month and thought a few notes would be helpful to 1) sort my own befuddled brain and 2) help launching fashion designers or artists understand the process.

Caviat- most of what I've learned is from my favorite institution, the school of hard knocks. I've made a few expensive mistakes so you don't have to :) Needless to say, take what I say with a grain of salt.

Storyboard  - When  a client starts a conversation about launching a fashion shoot, the first thing I do, is start putting together a storyboard. A simple doc will do. It looks something like the one below, lists the bare bones details, time, location etc and will ultimately be sent to the crew and model agency when booking talent.

 Things to include on your storyboard:

  • Hair/Makeup inspiration
  • Location inspiration
  • Colors/themes/key props
  • Target Audience
  • Story or Shoot concept
  • Crew Details (Stylists/Makeup and Hair/Assistants)
  • Shoot Time/Duration
  • Payment details (trade for pics/$ per hour)


If budget allows, I will bring on a stylist to be that second set of eyes, and most particularly helpful when you don't have wardrobe for the shoot.

  Once you have a framework to work from you can present this to your client and brainstorm further details, really draw their vision out. They are paying you to make their ideas come to life. If they have no vision, then spread a story before them that you feel best represents their brand identity.

Keep your shoots consistent with your style. Rodney Smith is the best example of this, whether shooting fashion or editorial or a mag cover, it's still very obviously within his unique perspective and bears his signature look and feel.

Underpromise -Over deliver - very powerful business concept. Manage your clients expectations by telling them ahead of time when they can 1)expect image delivery 2) cost expectations 3) tim frame- ->anything. Over communicate and if you happen to do better or faster than what you promised- fabulous, but NEVER say you'll do something and end up stretched beyond your ability to fulfill that promise.

Prepping for the Shoot- The big day is a drawing closer - things to double check:

  • -Confirm your models and crew
  • -Have refreshments available
  • -Confirm rentals (if needed) and pick up times
  • -Check your camera gear and make sure your organized and ready to go
  • -Check all major props
  • -Check weather (nothing worse than last minute cancellations)
  • -Gather model releases ready for signing
  • -Gather checks/payment methods
  • -Make sure models bring their "shoe bag" if not providing footwear (a typical mixed collection of shoes the models bring for shoots)
  • Receive shoot retainer from client
  • confirm and/or final scout of location

Shoot Day - Stay cool, calm and collected. At this point you should have everything ready to go the day before, so you can truly focus all your creative juices on creating dynamic images. Have fun, give the models lots of encouragement and direction. The more you communicate the better than can interpret your vision.

Any Questions?