A Different Take On Mainstream

THE NEWBIE’S GUIDE TO FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY

Salutations people of Earth.

I will admit it right now– I am no photography expert. If you are looking for advice from some hardened pixel wiz who speaks photo and gear language better than his native human tongue– please look elsewhere. I am just a girl, whose had a camera in her hand since the age of 11, simply learning new tricks as she stumbles along. What’s funny is that I didn’t even take these photos– my friend RH did back in New York– but it really got me thinking, what are the steps I use to taking great photos?

I. LIGHTING

The most important aspect of any shot is that lighting. No questions. You aren’t even allowed to argue with me on this one. You can always tell the difference between a grainy snapshot depicting your friend Jonah with three day old hair, and that barely edited Instagram post featuring your puppy looking like a puppy model. The difference, seriously– is lighting.

       1. First of all, if you have a choice between shooting indoors and outdoors, always opt for outdoors. Outside the air is crisper, the light is sharper, and there is none of that harsh unnatural lighting from lamps to mar and fuzz up your photographs. Unless you have some studio like situation in your house with tons of professional lighting– just do yourself a favor and shoot your photos outside.

* An equipment style option would actually be Light.Co’s L16 Camera. It’s a purse sized camera that works like a smartphone, but actually works with the lighting in your environment, so that your photographs come out with that DSLR sharpness. I haven’t tried it out myself, so I have no personal testimony to give– but it definitely is an option worth checking out, if you are shopping around for high quality, easy to use cameras.

 2. Second, always shoot where the sunlight is dimmer–when its not harsh and glaring you in the face. Too much sunlight can also be a problem because it washes out all all the colors of your outfit, as well as your skin tone. It’s also extremely unflattering. You want to shoot on days when the weather may be a tad gloomier, when all the bright colors seem sharper because the sunlight is barely there. However, if you are looking for that sun soaked summer look– I recommend shooting at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. The weather may still be gorgeous, but the sun is not as harsh, letting the colors take the lead in your photo, and not the harsh sunlight.

3.  One last piece of advice on light– It is very difficult to shoot in a place with a lot of greenery. You may end up looking like a secret elf. (like I do in some of these ;).  Therefore, try finding a spot where the greenery is broken by some other color in nature– like some flowers, or whatever–that way, you don’t end up looking like a secret elf. Unless you want to look like a secret elf. And then that is another story.

II. Location

I will say this– whenever I look at other fashion blogs, one of the first things I notice besides for their outfit– is their shooting location. It makes a world of a difference whether your backdrop is the boring potholed street behind you, or some cool art wall you found in an alleyway. I always like to look for backdrops that will compliment my clothes–whether the graffiti behind me will contrast with my outfit, or even whether the ambiance of the location will provide a story to my outfit. On the other hand, the location doesn’t always have to be overly artistic or extravagant. Sometimes, a plain white wall provides a better contrast and story than a heavily paint sprayed background ever could. Always make sure that your location compliments your outfit and doesn’t overpower it. If you are wearing patterns, try sticking to more solid backgrounds. If your outfit is more solid, try an edgier, more colorful location.

III. PROPS

Do use the props you find around you to enhance your backdrop. If you stumble upon a funky pair of steps– sit on them! Take a few photos! If you find some vintage looking doorpost, or archway, don’t be afraid to snap a few poses in front of it. Any object could be a potential photoshoot enhancer– from a park bench, to a street lamp, to even a dumpster– as Maria Polansky so clearly demonstrates in one of her fashion posts. For this post, RH and I happened to come upon this most excellent tree stump. Of course I had to try standing on it. In stilettos. With one foot. We are ignoring how potentially dangerous this is. Moving on.

Ignore my tag popping out of the skirt. It’s a good picture, and I refuse to take it down because I’m visibly committing some faux pas.

 

IV. CANDID > COMPOSITION

You can always tell when a photograph was overly posed, compared to a more candid, free style photograph. And yes, sometimes you need a bit of posed– you need that serious, smizing look– pretty much like all the photos in my recent Warby Parker shoot. However, there are definitely other times when a natural expression portrays that much more easy beauty, and humanity–than a posed composition ever could. Try snapping some shots in the spur of the moment– when you’re not yet ready for the camera, or when you’re genuinely laughing or thinking about something. Your honest expressions will penetrate through the photograph, creating a snapshot so much more relatable, and full of life, than simply a photo of you looking severely into the camera. Like some wax doll.

V. BE CONFIDANT

Yeeesssss, I knooowwwww, easier said than done. But a camera is both the biggest liar and truth teller, and any insecurities you portray in your mannerisms while you shoot, will show up in the image itself. And I get it, people are staring at you while you prance around Prospect Park in a flouncy skirt and stilettos. *Ahem. *Me. And you may not feel qualified to pose like some wannabe model. *Ahem. *Me again. Honestly, being in front of the camera may simply scare the living daylights out of you. *Not actually me–I’ve never been camera shy. Not sure if that’s good or not. Whatever.

I understand the hesitations. However– as a general rule, if you are out in public, either overdressed, or sporting a rather strange outfit concoction– and you are grinning stiffly in an undetermined direction while a photographer snaps photos of you– people are going to stare. Not only will they stare, sometimes, they will also take photos of you. And you need to own that. Otherwise, you must seriously ask yourself why you became a fashion blogger. However, if you do want an actual tip– always wear clothing you feel comfortable wearing, and that you feel makes you look beautiful. Because trust me– the photos will come out a lot better if you feel amazing in the outfit you chose, as opposed to you constantly tugging at your skirt because you’re afraid it’s too tight, or short or wrinkled.

Shirt– Crossroads Trading Company

Skirt– Crossroads Trading Company

Tights– Target

Heels– Fergilicious by Fergie

Earring– Forever XII

 

Yup, that’s pretty much it.

Peace,

Cynical Duchess

What’s a fashion photography tip you usually do?

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