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Stylists: How to Set Up Your First Test


DaniMorales513d95dbb8120.jpgWhen you are ready to set up your first test shoot first take into account the resources that are available to you. A lot of times when I am up to doing something challenging it can feel daunting and like I am all alone, but I do believe when I look into my resources I am very seldom disappointed.

Don’t forget that editorial and film are collaborative arts. Often when we think of fashion you just think of the model, but the photographer, make up and hair artist, and yes, the stylist can be equal parts critical to the piece. Having a pretty face is great, but creating a concept or a statement is where it really moves into the realm of art.

I started design school and made friends with a few really talented designers, and became a little obsessed with propelling these artists’ work into the world. I also, at the time, worked for Nordstrom and it is the understatement of the year when I say I have a lot of clothes. Like a lot. I also am close to a sample size so my first few shoots I had a plethora of clothing and inspiration to work with. I would also use stuff from my grandma’s closet, thrift stores, friends’ closets. Anywhere I found inspiration.

If you have none of these resources I recommend doing it the good old fashioned way—just buy it and return it. Obviously this can be scary and I can tell you some horror stories of stylists who have borrowed thousands of dollars’ worth of clothing and then had a hard time taking it back. You will be spending more money then you are making on test shoots. But like any start up business you will put in a lot and if you stay focused it will pay off. I recommend for your first shoot creating a collaboration of 4 looks that can be shot in one day. If you feel adventurous enough to create a story or a theme to your shoot you are ahead of the game. I didn’t really do this when I first started. I just found stuff I thought might look good on camera.

Like I said, I recommend tapping into your resources. Do you know any friends that do great makeup? Or are you in a collage with a photography department? Begin by enrolling those who you know into your vision. You will find it is easy to come up with at least one person who is interested in collaborating with you. If you need help finding a missing piece log on to this is a great resource for finding photographers, models, make up arts ect. Not to mention, I think it is free. This is also a really great resource for any actors who are looking to get free headshots or pictures. If you have never put together a shoot before start by taking pictures of the clothes you have found in a layout to send. Layouts or still-lives are pictures of the items you have collected to shoot in. Arrange them in a way that is esthetically pleasing and take pictures.

The photographer is usually the one responsible for finding a shooting location. Shooting outdoors at first is usually the easiest and I still prefer out door shoots to those in the studio. Check with rules and zoning about shooting in public. Usually it is not a big deal but some cities have specific laws. In New York they usually won’t say anything unless you have a tri-pod set up.

I always find the day of the shoot is when the real magic happens for me as a stylist. When I have my wardrobe set out with accessories and the model has her hair and make-up done, I feel like it is my responsibility to put the dream in place…

…Stay tuned for more tips tricks, and stories from the life of a New York stylist! 


About Dani Morales

Wardrobe Stylist - Dani Morales is a wardrobe stylist who has recently relocated to New York City. Originally from Seattle where she worked at Nordstrom, her styling career began while living in Los Angeles. She has experience styling for bands, dance groups, red-carpet events, editorial shoots, television and film, as well as high fashion and individual personal styling. Now in NYC and studying at FIT Dani is starting all over yet again in a new city. She is off to conquer the competitive world of fashion in its capitol.