Something I get asked a lot about is how I style and shoot my Instagram photos. Usually, the person posing the question really wants to give working with a photographer a go themselves but either feels incredibly nervous and camera shy, or just has no idea what shooting streetstyle editorial fashion content really entails. I wanted to share all the things I’ve learnt since I decided to hire a professional and get my mug in front of the lens and I enlisted the help of Kaye Ford of Fordtography who has become rather renowned amongst bloggers for her work.
Deciding when to hire a photographer depends on you and your motives. I do think it’s a great way to step up your blogging game and to ensure you never have to worry about running out of Instagram content, but there are plenty of bloggers who run successful businesses solely with the help of their mates of insta-husband behind an iPhone. There is no right or wrong! Personally, I decided to start using a photographer in August of last year which was around when I registered as self-employed and started making a tangible income from my blog.
My first few shoots were so awkward. I felt like an absolute wally, I hated people staring and I looked uncomfortable in most of the photographs. Fast forward a relatively short seven months and I now genuinely enjoy modelling for content. A lot of that comes down to riding the learning curve and finding my own groove alongside a really great photographer who I click with on a personal level too. Here are our top tips for nailing your outfit shots:
How to nail your outfit photos and tips for working with a photographer:
1. It’s okay to be nervous!
Don’t feel as though you have to pretend to be some kind of Kate Moss; if it’s your first shoot then tell your photographer that! It’s completely normal to feel like an absolute moron to start with but the more you relax into it, the better the shots will look. You are not lame for wanting great photos of yourself, whether they’re for your high-flying insta-career or just because it would be nice to have a profile picture where you don’t have toothpaste down your top for a change (true story).
2. Ignore everyone around you
Honestly, people do not care. If they glance over, it’s probably only because you look ace! Especially in London and other busy places, its become totally commonplace and nobody even really bats an eyelid, but even if you’re shooting somewhere a little more remote remember that you’re probably never going to see those people again.
3. Choose locations with a narrative
When I first ever did outfit photos, I chose the big white houses of Sloane Square because well…duh! That’s what bloggers do, right? It was so not me. I realised quite quickly that I was trying to fit into a mould and that actually, that style of content didn’t go down as well with my following anyway. When Kaye and I started shooting together in January I told her that each location had to have a narrative to it; I wanted really fun, editorial content. She came up with the Sky Garden for our first shoot, which was totally inspired, and after we went for pizza because I tried to think about what was really *me* then just run with it!
4. Build a relationship with your photographer
It’s really hard to work with someone you don’t click with from both a blogger/model and photographer perspective. I used a photographer once who I couldn’t really communicate with and as nice as he was, it just didn’t work. Especially if you’re intending to work together regularly, you’re going to spend a lot of time 1-1 so get to know each other! It makes shooting way more fun when you can chat through it and genuinely have a good time: it shows on your face too.
5. Want those breezy walking photos? Do the rocking horse!
Position your feet a natural width apart with one in front of the other and just rock back and forth. It creates the illusion of walking and the images look better than if you actually were! Honestly, when Kaye shared this little nugget with me on our second shoot, my awkward feet and I could’ve kissed her.
6. Explain to your photographer exactly what you’re using the images for
For example, if they’re for Instagram then Kaye knows to make sure she shoots wide enough that you don’t have to choose between either your feet or your forehead (the worst!), or can even shoot in square if that’s what you prefer.
7. Plan your outfits ahead
According to Kaye, some people turn up with a giant suitcase full of clothes and then start trying to decide what to wear whilst literally stood on the street. Honestly, it’s a waste of precious time. I have each outfit planned in my head and then I try them all on head to toe the night before. I pack them into a bag (usually a bag for life) in the rough backwards order I intend to wear them too!
8. Know why you’re wearing that outfit in that location
“Because it’s pretty” is totally fair enough if that’s what floats ya boat but personally I love to have a theme or narrative in my head. I usually match my outfits to the location to give the image a certain feel, like ‘Spring’ or in the case of the below photo: “Hey I want to look like I just effortlessly threw this together then went for a coffee because I’m that cool, when really it took me an hour and I asked the guy for “whichever drink comes with a French bulldog on it”, and I’m still not convinced I don’t look like I’ve left my nightie on“…
Kaye’s alternate top tip is to juxtapose your outfit with your location: dress to impress and then shoot in a grungy place like somewhere with lots of street art or a disused yard.
9. Keep moving
Gone are the old days of standing stock still, a slightly painful grin plastered on your face whilst you wait patiently for someone to stop fumbling with the shutter. I literally do not stop moving throughout the whole shoot! If you’re not using the rocking horse trick then just move. Wander about a bit, move your arms, dance about. Even if you feel like a dick, the photos will look so much more fluid and candid.
10. Workout where you’re going to change
Everyone has different preferences. Some people will only change in loos, in which case make sure you know where the closest McDonald’s/pub/Starbucks is to your shoot locations (see, told you blogging was glam). Others are happy to strip their kit off in the street and Kaye’s top tip is cycle shorts and a bra-let or vest so that you’re not actually y’know…committing indecent exposure.
11. If you’re a bit camera shy, wear sunglasses
Who cares if you’re doing a Chandler Bing squinty eye? Nobody can see it! They make a good anti-T Rex hands prop too.
12. Get yourself some props to avoid awkward hands
I never know what to do with my hands in photos. Without a prop, I usually end up looking like an awkward T-Rex trying to hang out the laundry. My favourites are a handbag, a coffee cup or FOOD (Kaye and I are developing a bit of a theme with that one and I’m not entirely sure what that says about me *shifty emoji*). Kaye also suggests making use of your clothing: put your hands in your pockets or hold your lapels!
13. Pay on time
This should be a bloody obvious one but remember your photographer is not doing you a favour, they are working. Either pay before or bring cash to the shoot; view it like going to the hairdresser.
14. Credit your photographer and remember who owns the images
Hint: it’s not you. You are paying for your photographers time and skill, not the content rights. That also means that if you happen to be using a photographer to shoot a social media ad, the image is not yours to subsequently sell on to the brand without their express permission.
15. Don’t ask for the originals
From Kaye’s perspective, you’ve chosen to hire her because you like her work. In booking her, you’re buying into her style: of shooting and of editing. Of course it’s fair to expect edits to remain clean and relatively neutral, and most photographers won’t mind you adding your own preset or style as I do for the cohesion of your feed, but think of it this way: you wouldn’t book a photographer who works exclusively in black and white, then ask them for the colour originals.
And most importantly, HAVE FUN. You are paying for this experience and it should be an enjoyable one all round. Your mood really does shine through in the photos so try and relax, find joy and have a genuinely good time. You don’t have to take yourself too seriously!
Imagery by Kaye Ford