Planning a Fashion Editorial

How It’s Made: Fashion Edition

Have you ever wondered about what it takes to create and plan your own fashion editorial shoot? How much planning should go into and how much room should you give yourself to be spontaneous?  

I’ve always loved getting to see other photographers and art directors shoot decks…so I thought it would be fun to share with you what my process is - remember, there are no right or wrong answers, just creative decisions to be made.

I’m going to walk you through one of my real shoot decks for a real client that was published in a twelve page spread. 

Step One: Create your story. 

In an ideal world, the client would trust your direction and expertise because this is what you do day in and day out…as I’m sure you realize…this doesn’t happen every time. 

In this instance, the Art Director of this project gave me almost 100% creative control. Her only ask was that we included certain vendors from a list for wardrobe, props, and locations. 

The story we went with was an idea I already had floating around in my head for quite some time. Thankfully, this is often the case that I have several ideas swirling around waiting to find their proper homes. I felt like this was the perfect chance to combine almost every element I like to utilize in a shoot: I love whimsy, but with darkness to it. I love cakes, color, as well as playing with masculine and feminine qualities and roles.

Once the story was locked down, I switched gears and developed a mood board (my favorite part)! I like to pull influences from all sorts of places to create a cohesive board; like art history books, vintage magazines, retro cookbooks, etc. 

Something else I’ve started recently is creating a color palette that the whole team can use as our north star when it comes to pulling wardrobe, props, makeup, etc. Ultimately, it helps create a consistent mood and tone for the whole shoot.

At this point in the process, I brought on my dream team to really make this shoot amazing. Overtime, you end up creating a little network of people you work really well with and trust completely and that is such a game changer. I brought on Kelsey Bucci as the stylist, Tyler Lively as our make up artist, and hair stylist Nick Gorlesky.

Once the moodboard and overall vision gets approved, we move onto selecting talent and location. In this case, there was only one location that we had our hearts set on and two models I had been dying to shoot with. 

If this weren’t the case, I would have gone location scouting and held a model casting. 

From there I move onto my shot list. 

Creating a shot list was the biggest game changer for me when shooting editorials. It seems obvious to create a shot list when you are shooting product work, but it can be over looked when thinking about editorials. A photographer might be tempted to say that a shot list is too rigid and confining, but to me it takes the pressure off to be brilliant on the spot. I know that I can stay on course and come away with something great AND if we see something in the moment that isn’t on the shot list, then thats just icing on the cake!

For example: Here is my shot list for Scene 1….

….BUT this image was not on the shot list and is probably one of my favorites from the entire shoot. But it’s a variation on a shot I did have planned. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan and a schedule, but leave room to play play play!

Final Images:

Scene 3 Shot List

Final Images:

Using Format