The best NYC fashion photographers have the ability to turn a creative brief into beautiful photos. But how do they do it?
New York advertising agencies invest time and resources developing creative concepts for their clients. And on the day of the photoshoot, it’s the photographer’s job to execute and bring that vision to life.
In other words, creative directors put a lot of trust in their photographers.
They trust them with time and resources, and, of course, art directors trust in their ability to deliver stunning photos on-time, on-budget and that match the client’s needs.
Turning a creative brief into a finished project can feel like magic. But the most talented fashion photographers in NYC know great photos don’t happen by accident. Fashion photographers know that bringing the creative vision to life on the day of the shoot requires careful planning, direction and creative management. In other words, creativity and talent can take a photoshoot only so far.
But how does that process work? How do fashion photographers in New York take a creative brief and deliver a final product that not only meets, but exceeds, a client’s expectations?
Pre-Production: Communicating Your Creative Vision
What’s the key to working with a NYC fashion photographer? It’s communication, plain and simple.
Effective communication ensures the art director and photographer are on the same page, and that both are using the same creative map as a guideline for the shoot.
So how do you get on the same page creatively?
Start by outlining the concept in a photo brief. This creative guide provides the photographer with a clear idea of your (or the client’s) vision for the shoot. And fashion photographers use it to carefully plan and deliver exactly what the brief calls for. In other words, a successful shoot starts with a strong creative concept, and you can achieve that with an in-depth brief. A few items to include:
Production Specifics – A brief provides information about the entire shoot, including production details like costs, locations, the ad layout, vendors and responsibilities.
Moods – The brief provides a strong overview of the look and feel of the photoshoot. Mood board photos and a written outline of the creative gives a photographer the color palette and inspirations he uses to deliver on the day of the shoot.
Post-Production – Some creative choices are made in post-production, which should be outlined in the brief. Photographers use this to plan how to shoot a subject.
Lighting – Lighting design should be discussed during pre-production. And it’s often first outlined in the creative brief – generally with sample photos and a brief written overview of the style. Great fashion photographers “paint” with light, so this is a creative point that should be nailed down in pre-production.
Models and Styling – Briefs also provide info about the models, styling choices and wardrobe. This helps the photographer plan how to frame the models for maximum effect.
Shot List – A shot list gives an overview of exactly the shots the client needs for the campaign. This is an important planning tool for photographers.
The creative brief is the jumping-off point for the photographer, providing a clear direction of how to move forward.
From there, NYC fashion photographers typically produce a photo treatment, which visually illustrates the creative brief. A treatment shows that a photographer “gets” the concept, and includes photo samples, inspiration, and a written narrative about the look and feel of the shoot.
Treatments provide art directors a chance to make sure the photographer’s vision meshes and matches the client’s. And a treatment will show you that not only does the photographer get it, but they’re also adding their own personality to the project.
How a NYC Fashion Photographer Executes On Set
Understanding the creative vision is a big part of a successful shoot. But it’s executing that vision on set that separates great fashion photographers from the mediocre.
On set, fashion photographers take on the role of director. Their managerial skills breathe life into the creative concept. NYC fashion photographers provide:
Lighting Genius – Lighting is an art, and the best fashion photographers use light to sculpt, create mood, and to put their subjects in the most flattering light possible.
Professionalism – Photo shoots are high pressure. But to ensure your vision gets realized, a photographer has to stay calm and collected and provide effective direction to the creative team.
Model Direction – Fashion photographers are attentive to details, and can provide subtle direction that ensures the right mood, expression and pose is created by the model.
Styling Advice – The best fashion photographers know not to tell people how to do their jobs. But they keep an eye on the styling direction and ensure that there’s cohesion and synergy across the production team, while making sure the styling stays on-concept.
Problem Solving – Not every shoot goes according to plan. Inevitably, a lighting issue or a model who cancels at the last second threatens to derail the project. Great photographers are creative problem-solvers, able to find solutions quickly to keep the shoot running smoothly.
That Something Extra: Great Fashion Photographers in NYC Add Personality
In New York, you’ll find the world’s best fashion photographers, and they’re skilled at delivering and executing the creative vision.
But the best photographers push a shoot creatively. Once they’ve got the shot, they continue to experiment. This something extra is what separates good fashion photographers from great photographers. They deliver the unexpected by taking on-set creative risks.
In other words, a great NYC fashion photographer doesn’t just deliver photos that make clients happy. They take the creative concept and heighten it, adding their own personality to create magic on set.
Hiring an NYC-based fashion photographer can be nerve-wrecking. You’ve placed a lot of trust in this person. But if you look for photographers who are creative technicians, but also effective communicators and directors, you’ll be on your way to success.
Garrin Evan is a fashion photographer who works on assignment across the United States and internationally.