David Higgs: Top 10 tips for capturing the perfect fashion shot
You’ll normally find him behind the lens shooting the likes of top influencers including Steph Claire Smith, Brooke Hogan, and Kristina Mendonca (as well as a host of global brands and big name celebrities) – but this month sees international fashion photographer David Higgs return home to Australia for a shoot with a twist… He’s stepping out from behind the camera to be the new face of Ted Baker at this year’s Stella Artois Caulfield Cup Carnival.
Taking on the role alongside partner Brooke Meredith, the ambassadorship will see David represent the brand in the Melbourne Racing Club’s Caulfield Style Guide, as well as hosting the Ted Baker activation – Ted’s Bloom Room at the Caulfield Cup Carnival.
With David flying in from his current base in Los Angeles for the Spring Racing season, we jumped at the chance to talk to the photographer about all his most revered tips when it comes to nailing a fashion shoot…
Honestly, I feel there is one big tip, and it’s this one. Preparation is the most key element to any photo shoot – then everything else falls under that in sub categories. Being 120 percent prepared when you go into a shoot means, when things inevitably go wrong, you are golden, you have a contingency plan, and you don’t lose any time on the shoot. You can tick off all the shots needed.
2. Location scout
Always do a location scout for a multitude of reasons. Often the client will say: ‘I have this great house… or great location’, but (and it’s not their fault) they don’t see the elements that can cause a problem on the day. By scouting, you can identify where the best shots are, and more importantly, if there are enough shots in the location to complete the campaign. Nothing worse than getting to location for a 20 shot campaign, and you have run out of shots by the 10th one.
It also allows you to do a light map. I use an app called ‘Sun Seeker’ which gives me a full map of where the light will move during the day, even on interior locations (where we will use natural light). This then allows me to create a shot order for the day, and maximise the light and the location for each time of the day that suits best.
Pick the talent that fits the style of the shoot and the location the best. We can be drawn to talent for differing reasons, but, if you have the wrong talent, you can have the best clothing, best location in the world – but the shoot won’t make the statement you want. The first thing people see in an image is the talent, so ensure the talent is right for the shoot.
If you think you may need it, bring it. This ties back to preparation. Things can go wrong on location, e.g. that cloudy day you planned for may have full sun – so you might need a scrim, that early morning glow may be overcast. Plan for the worst and you’ll get the best. Part of the location scout would be identifying any factors that can limit your output, ie lack of power (hire a generator), whether wind could be a factor (so you bring sand bags), if you may get wet or sandy (bring rugs and tarps).
Nothing derails a team quicker than a lack of catering. If people are thirsty, hungry or lacking caffeine (that’s a personal one, haha), it can limit the team’s output. We are all on set, things go over time, we are all working hard – but it makes it very hard to keep everyone pushing towards that end goal if people are hungry, thirsty or running on fumes.
This is one of the most important factors – your creative team (creative director, stylist, hair and makeup, and assistant) all must be on the same page. On location, you can’t afford passengers. Make sure you surround yourself with an upbeat professional team who knows what you are there for. It’ll make for a well oiled machine and the shoot will flow perfectly
Always bring tunes – and different tunes. The wrong music can put the set to sleep. Spotify and a portable speaker (with a good battery life) makes a shoot fun and keeps the vibe alive.
8. Weather elements
When shooting on locations where you will be exposed to the elements of weather, whether that’s heat, cold, rain, or wind – bring sunscreen, a warm jacket, and keep the fluids up etc. This helps prevent things like getting smashed on a two day shoot because you got sunstroke on Day 1!
9. Shot list
Have a clear and concise shot list. All clients will always want extras if there is time – that’s natural, but stick to the shot list, work in order. This means nothing will get missed and the deliverables of the shoot will be met.
Get a crew with a good attitude. It only takes one person complaining to create infectious negative energy – but on the other hand, it just takes one person with a great attitude to really lift the whole team. I have worked with a ton of models, stylists, and hair and makeup artists that can carry the vibe of the shoot all day.