Every season, while we’re in the craziest stretch of our production schedule, we start to plan our indoor and outdoor photo shoots.
The advertising and catalog images you see from all of your favorite brands may look deceivingly simple and lovely; truthfully, it takes a lot of work to achieve those results. For their photo shoots, the largest apparel companies employ advertising agencies, who employ production teams, who employ casting agents, prop stylists, photographers, tailors, stylists, makeup and hair stylists, art directors, models and more to work together to create striking and impactful fashion images. I’ve worked on shoots like this many times, both in-studio and on-location, with well-known stylists like Kate Young, and with photographers like Troy Word. It’s impressive that all the jobs I’ve mentioned above play such crucial roles in creating beautiful imagery.
Because we’re a startup, we don’t have the luxury (or the headache!) of having to assemble such a large crew. Our first season, we used only studio shots, but decided after that season that we needed to add in some more lively outdoor lifestyle images for our homepage and banner images, and also for advertising purposes. So now, each season, it’s a matter of prepping for both indoor and outdoor shoots that take place within days of one another.
Our indoor studio shoot this year entailed finding an indoor studio to use for the day, hiring a photographer, a hair and makeup stylist, a model, renting and buying accessories, and of course making sure that all of our samples were completed in time for the shoot. I found a great studio that I’d worked in many years ago in the Garment District. In terms of our team, we’ve been really lucky to have found and worked with the same people since we launched Dobbin.
We particularly love working with our model, Kortnie Coles, who is the face of our brand. She came for a go-see (a model audition) prior to our first season’s shoot and we just knew she was the perfect look and personality for us. Kortnie is of course gorgeous, but she’s also smart, real, kind and hilarious. All of those qualities shine through in her pictures. Kortnie is a size 6/8 and looks amazing in Dobbin.
In terms of renting props and styling, we typically take a trip to the Albright Fashion Library here in NYC, an industry-insider rental service for luxury goods that works with all the top magazines and celebrity stylists. We’re able to rent shoes from Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Prada and more, as well as sunglasses and sometimes jewelry for Kortnie to wear with our clothes. We complement the rentals with jewelry and accessories that we own and others that we buy expressly for the shoot. Prior to the shoot, Catherine and I put together the shoot’s “looks”: head-to-toe plans for each item’s styling. We take photos of each look as instructions to follow at the shoot. We ourselves also do all the on-set styling: steaming, pinning, and clipping the clothes to look as wrinkle-free as possible.
For both shoots, we need size 6 and 8 samples of each item for the line in every color that we’ll be selling, so it means major crunch time at our factory. We typically aim to have them finished a day before we start styling — which is usually a day or two before the first shoot.
Planning our outdoor shoot comprises hiring a different photographer, Kortnie and our go-to hair and makeup stylist, Stefanie. The looks are boiled down to the strongest four or five. What’s most stressful about the outdoor shoot is finding the right locations and of course, the weather! We schedule everyone to work on a certain day, for a few hours, and then start watching the weather reports non-stop. If it rains, our entire shoot and web development calendars get thrown off. We’ve been very fortunate so far to have worked on sunny days.
During the outdoor shoot, we move around looking for inspiring backdrops and good lighting. In between shots, we’re changing and styling Kortnie hurriedly in preparation for the next shot.
After both shoots, we work with our photographers to select the best images for the website and then work on pulling together hi-res versions of everything we need for launch. Everything has to happen very quickly, but with our fantastic team, we’re able to do it!