So, it’s time to renew the model wardrobe again. This time it is the branded product section with a few new and colourful items from Jack’s, Lindbergh and Shine. Not the most expensive, but it can still dent the year’s clothing budget :-/
The model wardrobe is an important (and maybe often neglected) part of photography. In the fashion and the traditional model industry it goes without saying that your wardrobe is almost as important as the model and the photographer themselves. In other areas of photography, such as stock photos, it is also significant. And even in portrait photography, I use my wardrobe and extensive collection of props when I create the slightly more unconventional portraits. Here a dressing gown, straw hat or loose-fitting shirt could be just what it takes to produce a striking portrait.
My own clothes do not exactly convey the image of a fashion icon. And rightly so – though this does not mean that I don’t know what looks good on others. It’s also not necessary to be God’s gift to haute couture in order to be a photographer. However, it does no harm to have a feeling for which colours go well together, which clothes look smart and whether they fit properly. Even if I do not decide what people wear when I take portraits, it is important that I know which wallpaper, furniture and props blend together. And if the clothes totally defy photography which is appealing, I am certainly not afraid to offer a few alternatives.
Clothing is all-important for stock photos. For several reasons:
Firstly, it provides contrast – so that the model stands out clearly from the background. The selection of colourful clothing also helps create a vivid picture, of course.
Clothing also tells a story. It is especially essential for stock photos that the picture is close to iconic. Even in miniature, one should clearly be able to see, at first glance, what the model is supposed to represent. That the viewer is in no doubt that this is a business woman, a schoolboy or a building contractor. Although a Bluetooth headset, a satchel and a hard hat are the most important elements here, the clothing contributes to the image’s credibility. The businesswoman’s headset would not be convincing if she were wearing a hoodie, for example.
The clothing and hair are exactly what help to establish the period. Looking at clothes and hair you can usually date the picture to within an accuracy of at least 5 years from the period the picture depicts – or is supposed to depict. This can also be a disadvantage, since this is obviously also the aspect that gives images a limited lifespan – but that’s life. To try to circumvent this by depicting models wearing timeless clothes will only result in an inferior, less saleable picture with reduced, if any, iconic value.
Last but certainly not least, I should also mention the psychological impact that smart clothes from a fashion outlet has on models. To dress the model in the newest outfit that has just come off the racks of the very latest fashion boutique can make them feel like a million dollars. Especially with new and hesitant models this has a marked effect which infects their entire radiance. And therefore the aura surrounding the resultant images.
Clothing naturally includes many other aspects. Clothes and their colours are to a large extent instrumental in strengthening the atmosphere of the image and the feelings of the model, but naturally there are far more subjective aspects than the abovementioned.
The wardrobe of a stock photographer should of course have a lot more than just clothes from the fashion boutique. I also buy clothes at the supermarket, online and in charity shops and I happily welcome any of your various castoffs that you may no longer need. A charity shop can be a gold mine where you can find the most incredible items which could sometimes better be classified as disguises. I even buy clothes wholesale, when I for example need a load of plain T-shirts which I know are going to be subjected to paint-, makeup- and/or food-stains 🙂
The choice is made more challenging when I photograph children of all ages. I need to cater for clothing sizes from child size 8-9 to adult medium, and because it includes everything from socks, summer shorts and bras to suits, hoodies and evening dresses, it goes without saying that this a significant item on the budget. Add to this all the accessories like shoes, belts, caps, hats, scarves, bow ties, chains, bracelets and rings. And a lot more. To organise the wardrobe, so that clothes can be found when you need them, is quite a task. I have so much that it cannot all hang on racks in the wardrobe room, but is separated into large storage boxes, so it is easy to find when you need it. In fact organising the props is just as important as planning the next photo shoot. Not to mention that it needs to be easy to find when you suddenly get a great idea or have some time left to improvise during a photo session.