How to Shoot Fashion Photos Without a Stylist
Without a doubt, one of the biggest "barriers to entry" that people feel when they want to shoot fashion photography, is that they can't get access to the right kinds of clothes.
I'm here to tell you that that is a limiting belief, and that it's untrue!
I live 5 hours away from London, where most of the brands are based, and I still manage to shoot fashion imagery from Cornwall. Today I'm going to share with you how I do just that!
1. Borrow Clothes From Friends:
This is probably the easiest thing you can do; borrow clothes from your friends/family. For the first few years of building my portfolio, I shot pretty much exclusively with clothes from my mums wardrobe. I was 18, and I didn't have access to a lot (plus I was still living in Switzerland, and this was before internet shopping really took off!). I'd raid her closet, pick my favourite pieces, and put them on my friends.
Admittedly, I have a pretty cool mum (if I do say so myself), so I was lucky in that she had nice clothes for me to choose from.
I'm sure that you can think of at least 3 people in your social circle who are into fashion. If you're reading this, you're probably into fashion yourself!
So get on Facebook Messenger, and ask them if they'd let you borrow a few of their clothes for a day so that you can build your fashion portfolio. They'll probably be super flattered that you think they're wardrobe is cool :)
2. Get On Ebay
Ebay is your best friend when you're building up your fashion photography portfolio, because you can usually find really cool, very cheap clothes. Obviously, this does mean that you need to spend a bit of money, but honestly you can find some pretty incredible pieces for very small amounts of money.
Maybe you set aside £20, £30, or £50 a month towards buying a few cool pieces, and using them in 3 shoots throughout the month. You can mix them up, accessories them, and make pieces look totally different, and get lots of use from them.
Once you're done, if you don't want the item anymore, shove it back on ebay and get your money back!
3. Buy and Return
This is a sneaky thing to suggest, but I promise you that everyone does it. I don't recommend doing this too often, but once in a while is totally fine: buy and return! Get on ASOS, or Topshop, Zara or H&M, and buy a few outfits for a photoshoot.
Make sure that you leave all the tags on when you're shooting, and that you don't get any make up or dirt on the clothes. If I'm doing "buy and return" for a shoot, I'll try my best to make it a studio shoot, just to minimise the risk.
The benefit of doing this is that you can shoot pieces which might be more trendy. Shops like Zara and H&M are releasing new items weekly, and they tend to be directly inspired by what was on the runways.
Of course, this method comes with risks, so please be aware of them. If you spend £500 on a dress, and get it dirty or damage it, you won't be able to return it. Make sure you know what you're doing, and just be mindful.
*I'm not responsible for any monetary loss!!*
4. Borrow from Brands
My last suggestion is simple: go straight to the brand. This is definitely the most beneficial way to get access to clothes long term, because it allows you to build a working relationship with a brand. I do this very regularly, and it has genuinely lead to jobs!
Find the email address of someone on the marketing team of the brand you'd like to shoot with. Then, put together a detailed pitch of your photoshoot idea. Let them know that they'll have access to the images from the shoot (it's important that they feel they're getting something out of it too), and tell them what you intend to do with the images.
Share a moodboard with them, and maybe even suggest which pieces you'd like to shoot with from their website.
You'll be surprised by how many brands will say yes to this! I've had many shoots where I've seen a specific dress or outfit I love, contacted the brand, asked to borrow it for a shoot, and they've said yes.
For more info on how to pitch yourself, read this blog post.
So there you go! No excuses. Wherever you are in the world, and whether you have access to a stylist or not, you can definitely create amazing fashion images :)