The creation of a successful fashion image is often a team effort. Aside from the model and the photographer, the contributions of a talented creative team can elevate your fashion photography from good to great. In this article, we will review the key members of a creative team, and how you can cultivate a reliable crew.
Defining Key Members
Often abbreviated as MUA, a makeup artist is vital for ensuring that your model is camera and retouch ready. A skilled makeup artist will know how to flatter your model’s features, as well as understand how the makeup will react to different lighting situations such as studio strobes. The benefit of a makeup artist is the time saved in retouching, and an aesthetic that they can produce for you in-camera.
There are makeup artists who can specialize in other areas, such as manicures or male grooming. It is also not uncommon to find a makeup artist that can do hairstyling, making them that much more invaluable to your team.
Properly styled hair is another very vital ingredient to fashion photography. Whether you are looking to have smooth hair, textured, wet, or zany, a hairstylist will make it possible. For studio work in particular, having a hairstylist can save you hours during retouching by smoothing out fly-aways so you won’t have to.
You can’t have a great fashion photograph without great clothing. A wardrobe stylist’s first and foremost priority is ensuring that the hero of the story: the wardrobe, is shown in its best light. From steaming wardrobe to having the access to pull pieces from various designers and brands, a wardrobe stylist wears many hats. A skilled wardrobe stylist will guarantee that delicate and one-of-a-kind pieces are handled appropriately. They will also be aware of season-appropriate attire and trends, which is particularly vital when it comes to fashion editorials meant for publication.
While there are other possible members of your creative team such as a creative director, prop stylist, and retoucher, the above three I believe are mission critical to any production.
Fortunately there are quite a few different avenues for discovering local talent to add to your creative team. Below are the main avenues that have personally worked well for me.
Model Mayhem is a social network for photographers, models, makeup artists, designers, wardrobe stylists, hair stylists, publications, and more. One of the largest networks when it comes to finding talent, this is one that I highly recommend for someone that is new to working with models or fashion images. There is an approval process for this site, so having existing photographs of people will be a must in order for your profile to be created.
Through casting calls and the ability to browse for local talent with specific searches, Model Mayhem is a great platform for building your team.
While a mobile-based social network that runs purely on photographs, Instagram has a lot of networking opportunities available. Tagging models and members of a creative team are very common practices for fashion photographers, which can make it easy to find local talent in your area. Search for hashtags related to your location and the desired role such as #newyorkmua or #newyorkstylist. You may be surprised at the people you find!
While arguably the king of social networks, Facebook is a bit more challenging to utilize as a means of discovering talent. Where it can be useful is through discovering groups catered to your area and industry, as well as paying attention to the people credited in the images posted by local artists and professionals.
Modeling and talent agencies are always looking for photographers for their new and developing talent to test with. A simple phone call to the agency asking to speak with the agent in charge of new faces is all it takes to get your foot in the door. This can offer some great opportunities for not only gaining access to local models, but for working with agency-tested and approved makeup artists, hairstylists, and wardrobe stylists.
Cultivating a Relationship
Building an effective team begins like any other working relationship. There are first impressions and there is the hopeful back and forth that will result in working together toward a common goal. When reaching out to someone you wish to work with, it is important to consider not only the compensation for the time provided, but of how the relationship can go further. Below are the most common types of compensation when it comes to working with a member of your potential crew.
The collaborative bracket contains a lot of commonly used abbreviations and terms such as: TF, TFP, and TFCD. The general idea is that the professional will trade you their time in exchange for photographs delivered either digitally, or for print in the case of those that want physical photographs for their physical portfolio.
A particularly effective means of testing with very talented individuals is for editorials that you are intending to submit to fashion magazines and publications. Tear sheets still hold a lot of weight in the creative world, and is a great way to compensate the efforts of your team with the achievement of having the photographs featured.
An unpaid test is different from a TF shoot, for it is meant as a means of testing their skill without compensation, with intentions of hiring them for future projects once they have been proven. This term is most common when working with agencies, but is recognized by many in the industry.
If you are unable to find creatives willing to collaborate, or are a photographer that is just starting out and wishing to expand their portfolio into fashion and beauty work, then hiring a professional goes a long way. This will allow you to create stronger images that can attract more skilled members to your team, and is a worthwhile investment.
Regardless of the methods that you employ to begin building your creative team, the most vital piece of advice is this: deliver! Ensure that the expectations you have set forth for yourself are met, or even exceeded. This is the best way to guarantee that these key people will be a reliable staple in your future photoshoots.