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The Perfect Lookbook

Fall/winter market week time is approaching, and that means one major thing — brands and small designers from all over are working hard to get the perfect lookbook ready in time. For me, this is when the magic happens: when I get to see the sketches I doodle months ago finally materialize on a model.

While I feel that every part of fashion lends itself to storytelling I really believe that photographs are the best way to capture the mood of a collection — and one of the easiest ways to show the audience your brand’s viewpoint.

I have come to think of lookbook creation as an art form: you want to conjure up the ideas behind your brand and give your audience something dreamy, while also perfectly articulating the clothes to encourage buyers to purchase your goods.

 Often it feels like you have to sacrifice the ephemeralness of editorial shots to get the approachableness of an e-commerce shoot. But I think you can do both — it just involves careful planning.

Drawing from my own experience both of working on big-budget lookbook shoots and overseeing my own collection, these are my best tips for making your lookbook the best it possibly can be:

  1. Identify all the ways you’ll use your pics

A lookbook photo shoot is no small production, and if you are going to take the time and the energy to put a great photo shoot together it is really important to think of all the ways you’re going to use the images. They’ll probably go far beyond the lookbook — think e-commerce, marketing, social media. Keeping this in mind, I prioritize the most important uses of the images, and focus on that before moving on to other poses/ layouts.

 And pro tip: start brainstorming the layout of your lookbook way before you start producing the actual pics, so you can keep that look in mind during the shoot itself. This will make your post-production duties a breeze.

  1. Use creative tools to communicate what you want

 For a photo shoot you are (hopefully) working with a team — photographer, hair/make-up guru — and if you are the creative director, you want to make sure everyone is on the same page.

For each of my photo shoots, I create a unique Pinterest page filled with images to inspire all aspects of the shoot — from photo layout to model poses to makeup and more. Sometimes I’ll even send everyone a song that perfectly describes the mood I’m going for. That tends to get everyone feeling the vibes that I want them to feel.

  1. Be prepared

The best photo shoots I have overseen are ones where my team is 100% prepared. Well before hitting the shoot itself, it’s important to do some prep work — know how you want to style the clothes and accessories. Cataloging what accessories go with which clothing item makes day-of matching super simple, and means that our precious time is well-utilized. Steaming garments before shoot time is essential — and keep a lint roller handy to keep every piece looking its best.

  1. Be strategic with your time

For every look I usually first have the models shoot in e-commerce poses and then move on to more editorial poses with props and new backgrounds. Plan for time to experiment with different shots but also make sure you stay on-track. Since the models and photographer might be more tired at the end of the day, plan for the important pieces to be shot in the middle.

And I will never start a photo shoot with the most important outfit — I save that for the middle. I do this so that the models and photographers can get warmed up and start a flow together. Once we have already nailed a few looks then we can start take some time on the important shots that are going to serve as the storytellers of the season.

  1. Let the professionals do what they do best

When you are passionate about your brand you have a very strong idea of what the outcome of a photo shoot should be. Take the time to educate the other people working with you about your vision — but also listen to their input.

 So often my photographers come up with some amazing idea I’d never even thought of — this is their field, and they bring such an important perspective to my project.

 I also love talking with hair and makeup artists about the new trends that could really enhance my shoot. Not everything will be the right fit, but I strongly encourage you to pick the brains of the people around you, because a good photo shoot is always a collaborative effort.

Now it’s your turn — take these tips and have your next photo shoot be your best yet.