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Fashion shoot with the Daily Mirror newspaper

James Vellacott is a staff photographer with the Daily Mirror. Here's how they photograph a fashion shoot.

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When you open a door to the sound of “That's excellent, lovely, marvellous” mixed with the popping of a flash trigger you know you're entering a fashion shoot.

The Daily Mirror were running this shoot for a feature on T-shirts and their staff photographer, James Vellacott was the man behind the lens.

It's not a main interest of mine but it's fascinating to shoot and I really do enjoy doing it. We do everything from beach wear to evening dresses and features such as rip off dresses which give you a similar look to that of the designers at High Street prices.
Today we have 10 different outfits and I'll do various shots in the different outfits. This is purely fashion we're shooting here so we aren't looking for anything particularly clever just clean, nice, tight and upright images.
Daily Mirror fashion shoots are planned and booked a week in advance. On the day the model will usually arrive around eleven or eleven thirty so the photographer arrives at around ten o'clock, along with the stylist who is a Mirror employee and also writes about the clothes as well as making them look right on the model. The stylist and James then have a chat about what colours are in, decide on backgrounds to use and set-up the lights to fire off some test shots.

This particular shoot features a modelling dish which punches light into the face and eliminates any shadows. and a soft box on the background to create a vivid, very punchy blue background. The background's also set so the light is slightly brighter than the foreground to give it a glow. There's also another soft box at the front which fills in the rest of the picture to get nice, clean images of the shirts and a dark poly board which darkens one side of the face and brings out the cheek bones. There's also a fan which can be used to give the model's hair lift and when all these are combined with a good photographer who can bounce things along and keep the model happy you have the makings of a perfect shoot.

So come eleven and the model arrives and she's quickly whisked off into hair and make-up - a process which when compared to the actual photo taking seems to take an age to do.

Getting the outfit looking right can take time,” explained James. “The stylists choose what is worn and how it's worn and often you find them fastening bulldog clips up the back of the t-shirt to make it look just right.
Once everything is in place James has a chat with the model to decide what sort of look they should go for and to discuss whether props such as the wind machine will work for the shoot. Then, after no time at all the camera starts firing and James is shouting out instructions with ease.
I like girls like this who have a bouncy personality as you can get more out of them, it makes the shoot more fun. You have to remember that with a shoot like this we have 10 pieces so that's 10 t-shirts on the same girl that are lit the same way so you want every picture to be up-lifting and fun so it's good to have a model with a great personality. I also have an advantage as I've done this for a while and I know what looks right and I'm always thinking what will the paper be looking for.
After going through a series of smiles, frowns, poses and jumps an outfit change is made and the stylist jumps in to alter the shot.
This happens quite a lot as their name goes on it as well, they want everything to be perfect and they regularly walk into the picture while I'm shooting to get things right. They also touch up make-up to remove shine as that's a big no, no when taking a picture.
This shoot ran smoothly and thanks to the model, shots were rattled off with ease but sometimes James has to photograph people for items such as slimming stories and human interest pieces where you're dealing with the average person which does take more work.
The professional models know how to look good so we can shoot a lot more stuff to get more choice. We do 20-30 frames and get a bit of a giggle and have a laugh with them but if I'm dealing with the public for the human interest stories you need to work a bit harder and show them how to pose. I often find myself standing on the background showing them how to do it.
Some women get embarrassed too but they will carry on listening to you and eventually get it right. Again a bit of banter helps and for some people this is the only shoot they will do in their lives and you have to make them feel relaxed. People staring at them, bright lights and music blaring can make them feel uncomfortable and a little chat to make them feel comfortable, even mentioning air brushing will help.
After four hours the shoot's finished and James has to choose what images to send to the picture desk.
Three of the finished images taken at the shoot.
I'm not the best picture editor in the world but I do know which images are rubbish. Different shapes help too so they can make it fit the pages it needs to be. From the t-shirt shoot today I will probably send over four images of each outfit to the picture desk then my job starts all over again.

For more information about the photographer visit James Vellacott's Daily Mirror Blog.

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minicooper 12 536 United Kingdom
14 May 2009 10:13AM
Always enjoy watching and reading about pro shoots.

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