When I first started to shoot fashion about 25 years ago a large number of clothing manufactures in the garment district avoid hiring a professional photographer to shoot the seasonal line, they considered it an added expense, actually a luxury. What a lot of the showrooms did was hang the clothing on a wall or a rack and shoot the clothing right there in the showroom. In some cases they would use a staff member with a camera or even go as far as hire a photography student. In most cases the picture where horrible, very flat and boring the pictures were then printed to 4x6 print size and put in a family style photo album. That is what a lookbook use to look like, “your family pictures” we have come a very long way since then, we now have iPad look-books, web versions, and my favorite the bound printed 4 color separation book. So now a day even the small boutique fashion showroom can have a beautiful professional and expensive looking look-book at a reasonable price. This is something that was reserved for the large companies like Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and so forth.
Why am I writing about look-books? Well for one I think they are not looked as seriously enough by other photographers. A look-book differs from a consumer catalog in a few ways. The first difference is
It’s all about the garment, look books are by retail fashion store buyers to see the new seasonal lines, pick what they want fast and maybe even to decide whether or not the showroom is worthy enough to deal with. So they are shot a little more simply sometime to make it easy for the buyer to make choices, there are more detail images taken to see the textile, stitching and overall quality of garment assembly. Another thing is look-books need to be created seasonally 4 to 5 times a year in most cases. So cost is very important to the showroom. It has to be shot as perfect as possible in the camera so there is not too must post production (retouching) to drive up the cost. And lastly because the viewers of these books are all in the same industry they should look very professional fashionable, here is my chance as a photographer to showcase my work to several viewers all in my market. I better do a great job! So I take look books very seriously because most of my new fashion clients come from someone viewing a look-book I shot for another fashion showroom.
I seem to have shot more lookbooks this season then I even had shot in an entire year. Most of them are for fashion start ups, but a few where old school showrooms that found out about me through word of mouth. There seems to be more fashion showrooms in New York or maybe that's just wishful thinking. Most of these new clients are getting their lines shot for the first time and are excited to work with me to create a more styled photo story of the clothing, and that is something I love to do. Some of the more mentionable fashion look book shoots where the men's custom suit look book which was a 3 model shoot including some custom tuxedos worn by the designer himself, The men's suit look book was different from a normal new York showroom fashion look book. As these are actually custom suits that are measured by the purchaser and submitted online. The images are more of an online catalog shoot for made to order suits. The shoot had 2 great models that worked well with the line. One model in particular was really having fun with the clothing and made the shoot more productive. Because of him we got great images that were conveying ease of fit and comfort in movement of the suits, a plus I don't think the client was even looking for.
The other notable lookbook shoot was from another start-up who created a women’s sportswear line. I loved working with this guy we was very eager to shoot with me and allowed me to be creative with the looks. All in all he loved the fashion looks against a white wall as well as some cover shots I photographer outside on location, I always hope a client will allow me to create and pick the final images. That way I can give the client my best expression of their products.