You find a new clothing brand that you like, maybe through a friend’s referral or through Instagram. You google the name and a dreamy image pops up on the brand homepage. As you scroll through the products, you see garment images and detail shots. The photos convey texture and mood. The models move beautifully, showcasing the shape of the garments and (hopefully) the pockets!
These images weren’t made spontaneously, but through weeks of planning and brainstorming for the fashion photoshoot. Every brand has a different way of getting those great images… here’s how I go about it!
Choosing the Photographer, Stylist, and Models
The first step in planning for the Pamut photoshoot is always finding great collaborators. At the heart of a fashion photoshoot is, of course, the photographer. I chose to work with my friend Emily Lyonswood for this shoot. I also knew that I would need to employ a great stylist for both the set and the models, and asked my friend Melissa DeLeon to participate. Another very important step is choosing the models. Because I believe in showcasing the garments on a variety of body types, I tend to choose the models first and then make the sample garments in their size. I wanted to have a diverse range of models, both in size and ethnicity. I found models who are an inspiration to me. All of them work in creative fields and are simply a joy to be around!
Making the Samples
To create samples for the photoshoot, I’d first have to decide how many models there would be and in which sizes. This shoot would have five models, each of a different size. Because I am a size S, I planned to draft, or make the pattern, in a size S of each new garment first so that I could wear test it. I’d first make a muslin (a sample garment out of less expensive fabric) to check the fit. After the size S was made, I would grade the pattern. Grading the pattern means drafting all of the different sizes. I still do all of my patternmaking and grading by hand!
I had to do a lot of calculations to make sure that I had a good amount of variation in size and style for each model. For example, I wanted to show how the Hanna Top would look in a size XS and also how it would look in a size 2XL (a new size add for this season). I also wanted to photograph each model wearing a range of colors to showcase how the fabrics looked against different skin tones.
Creating a Moodboard
The creation of the moodboard is essential in order to share the vision of the shoot with the photographer and stylist. For this shoot, I was inspired by a little story in my head:
Inside a sun-filled cottage, there is a gathering of women. They have picked a bounty of fall fruits, mushrooms, and flowers. In the heart of the cottage on a linen covered table, they prepare dishes of fresh food to be shared among them.
Finding a Venue and Sourcing the Props
When looking for a shoot location, we were lucky enough to hear about a new studio in Durham owned by photographer Hannah Lee. The space, called House of Work, was both cozy and light-filled. We were actually the first group to use the space for a photoshoot! We scheduled the shoot to start at mid-morning for the best light.
Shoot stylist Melissa DeLeon, along with her assistant Hannah, purchased and hand-dryed a selection of flowers. They were also in charge of buying the fall fruits and mushrooms the morning of the shoot. I pulled together a collection of my mom’s hand-thrown ceramics and table linens as additional props. I always love using what I already have instead of buying props… it just feels more authentic to me!
To prepare the models, we asked them to come with natural hair and makeup. All of our models had experience with photoshoots (either in front of or behind the camera) so we all felt confident that we would not need a hair or makeup artist. The models brought their own shoes (Again, I always try to avoid single use props when possible. In addition, models tend to feel more confident when they are quite literally in their own shoes!).
House of Work in Durham, NC
The Day of the Shoot
I wrote out the following schedule for our photoshoot, which we adhered to pretty closely!
9:00-10:30 Photographer, stylist, designer, and assistants arrive at House of Work to unload and prepare for shoot.
10:30-12:15 Models Ashley and Sophie pose for product shots
12:15-12:30 Snack break and prep for group shots
12:30-1:45 All models pose for group shots and main web photos
1:45-3:30 Models Caroline, Kristen, and Samantha pose for product shots
All of the garments, before they were expertly steamed by my wonderful intern Rae!
Melissa and I hanging a backdrop hand-painted by Melissa and Emily.
There’s always a bit of spontaneity upon arriving to the shoot location and deciding on lighting, background, and styling. We spent some time playing with how to hang the hand-painted canvas backdrop. There was also a bit of confusion about which table to use as the centerpiece for the group shots. We had to switch to a smaller table so that Melissa and her assistant Hannah could set up the display outside the studio and then get it through the door without upending everything that was delicately laid on top!
Melissa and Hannah putting together the gorgeous table set.
Expertly styled fruit and veg in my mom’s NC-made ceramic bowl.
We started whipping through the product shots as soon as the models arrived, aiming for one front photo, one side or back photo, and one detail of each garment. Many of the FW styles are reversible, so we made sure to style these pieces both ways. For example, we styled the Simone Top (photos below) with the V in the front on Sophie, and the scoop in the front on Ashley.
Melissa and I perfecting the styling of a Simone Top and Basil Pant (new!) on Sophie.
Ashley looking radiant in a Simone Top and Garden Bandana.
The shoot went smoothly, with everyone involved helping in various ways. There was a lot of laughing and smiling, and even a tear or two from me when I saw all of those gorgeous models grouped around a bountiful table setting, wearing clothes that I designed and made. As the shoot was wrapping up, Emily and Melissa suggested that I change into one of my favorite new garments and pose for a few shots of my own. I’m glad they nudged me into doing some solo shots… I think they really captured my joy of creating beautiful clothing and seeing it come to life on real people.
A huge thank-you to Emily Lyonswood for the stunning photos included in this blog post, and for many more photos to come! Thanks also to Melissa DeLeon for the styling, to Hannah Lee for providing us with the shoot location, for assistants Rae and Hannah, and to all of the models (Sophie, Ashley, Caroline, Kristen, and Samantha) who you will see lots more of when the collection debuts on September 10th.
Photo: Me looking exhausted but happy after the shoot, wearing the new Rae Jumpsuit!