Looks Come Second….. to Decorum in Fashion

by Misty Al-Eryani

In the fashion industry it’s all about who you know and what you know; about 70% of the time. That remaining 30% is about the relationships you have with these people.  The fashion industry was built on the ‘visual’ and it remains so today. If it looks great, we all want it.  That whole.“If you don’t look good…we don’t look good.” type of scenario is an integral part of our industry. From couture gowns, to cavity-fighting toothpastes, it’s all about the “visual”, and that’s why it’s important to have a great campaign and concept, and most importantly, great relationships.

So where does it start, and what about these relationships I mention before? It all starts with what is known as “THE SHOOT”.  Photographers, stylists, models, makeup artists, hair dressers and the rest encompass what is called a “creative team”. They orchestrate how things are “seen” in the real world. If you are one of the professionals mentioned above, then you are aware that it’s all about the relationships you have and how you maintain them.

THE ART DIRECTOR is the back bone of every successful photo shoot. They are responsible for visualizing and developing the concept. They work closely with the client (designer, marketing director) to ensure the outcome is a flawless representation of the brand. The Artist Director chooses the photographer, the styling team and the models. They are creative and must have the skills to communicate effectively and ideally, and mesh with other “creatives” across the spectrum. Not all shoots require an artist director, but large productions do.  These are the folks you want call backs from, so put your best foot forward!

THE PHOTOGRAPHER is wanted for their style of captures (photos) and their “eye”. Each photographer is different, and each visualizes a concept differently. They are responsible for capturing the desired look with their signature style.

The photographer works closely with everyone on set. Every one.  Taking the vision of the artistic director, the photographer meets with the creative team to ensure the desired look can be obtained and reads well via the photographic medium. The hair and makeup artists are always within earshot as the shoot progresses. At times a hairstyle or makeup may not appear correctly in the photo, and needs to be edited. Sometimes the artistic director is the go-between, but usually it’s up to these stylists to be able to communicate with the photographer on what is needed and whether the desired outcome is achievable.

The photographer/model relationship is very important in the industry. The model is the one who portrays the vision, as we will touch on in a moment. Photographers must always be prepared for last minute changes and rescheduled shoots, so flexibility is always a great asset for them to possess!

THE STYLING TEAM creatively expressing the concept, and is composed of hair stylists, makeup artists, nail artists, fashion stylists, food stylists and set designers. They interpret the concept and bring it into focus. They must be focused on the vision, execution, time management of the project. Most importantly, the styling team must communicate their ideas effectively and work well with one another. The creative team is responsible for creating a seamless interpretation of the “vision”, which is not an easy task. Everyone has their own opinion of how something should look and feel, and the styling team has to compromise and edit their work for the good of the shoot.

Style sheets and concept pages are a constant part of the styling team’s daily lives; it’s how they communicate with each other and the artistic director. Edits are more than likely going to be inevitable, so this is how everyone can be kept up to date on the flow of the finished look.

It is very important for creative team members to be flexible with their scheduling, be on time to appointments and photo shoots, and be able to communicate effectively.

THE MODEL is the base. Models are second, in my opinion, to the photographer. When considering a particular model for a shoot, the look is very important. Do they fit the concept? Can they deliver what is needed for the finished product?  A model must be fully aware of their body and range of emotion they can project in front of the camera.  Many people look at the face only, but what if the shoot requires animation? Can this model move artfully? Are they uninhibited, take instruction openly as well as constructive criticism?  The fashion industry at times can be very unforgiving, and models who can give the desired looks and maintain professionalism, especially under pressure, are the ones to seek out.

Models have many responsibilities, but the most important ones are to maintain their bodies, perfect the art of expression, be able to take instruction and always, always, be on time for projects.

THE SHOOT is where all the above comes together. Important thing to remember: come prepared.

PAY ATTENTION TO THE CALL SHEET; it contains vital information! It was produced for a reason. The call sheet is your map, your overview, and also introduces you to the creative people you’ll be working with. It lists your responsibilities and the timeline for the day. It should be studied closely before the day of the shoot.

Be prepared for changes, and be flexible. Communicate, communicate, COMMUNICATE!  Professionalism is the key to a great shoot, so everyone should come to the location with everything they need to work with. Never assume you have packed too many items; you may need them, especially if you have to edit a look quickly. It’s much better to arrive over prepped than to need something later.


Misty Al-Eryani is a freelance editorial makeup artist. She has been featured in national
fashion magazines since 1999.  Misty has worked with many photographers including
Carlton Mickle and Andrew Matusik.

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