Insights on a millinery image

I thought I would share with you some insights into the process of how I photograph a hat. This is not prescriptive and each image could be different or done a different way but this gives you an idea of the workflow I tend to use.

It is worth saying that I am primarily shooting a product, the hat, not a portrait, the model. There is a very subtle difference and that determines the composition.

Before I begin shooting I like to put an idea into a model’s head about how she should emote. This is usually done in conjunction with the client so that it is in line with her brand.

In this case I said a few simple words to the model, Stephanie; “you are a chic European lady, recognised for your taste and elegance…” It is all a bit make believe but having an idea in her mind, Stephanie then has a structure from which she can create a pose. The client always has the final say on whether that is what she wants to achieve.

Hopefully before we start to shoot I have got the light set up right but there is always a degree of refining. Typically his is done in conjunction with the client who sees the shots in the back of the camera as they happen. It’s important to do this because I want to get as much right before I take the photograph so I am spending as little time as possible in post-process. Remember I am photographing a product not a person. The person is there to complement the product, this is technically not a portrait.

So here is the image straight out of the camera when I do my post shoot review.

It looks ok but I can immediately see a few things that I will want to change.

First, I balance the exposure, highlights, shadows, whites and blacks to ensure that nothing is over/under exposed.

Next I zoom in and remove any skin blemishes. I then do some subtle skin smoothing. It’s really easy to overdo this and make the skin look very plastic. All my retouching is non destructive so if I overdo it I can reverse the edit.

Finally I do a crop. The hands felt a little bit distracting in this shot so I decided to crop them out. The cropping also allows the (fake) fur to act as a subtle way of directing the eye towards the hat, further emphasised by Stephanie’s collar bone and neck. Similarly the curvature of Stephanie’s hair at the back of her head draws the eye towards the hat which is why I wanted a profile shot. Profiling also works well because of the way Jane sat the hat on Stephanie’s head.

For most of my clients I tend to crop in 1 x 1 format. This format is what is typically used on channels such as Instagram.

Here is the final image,

Millinery – Jane Fryers

Model – Stephanie

HMUA – Sydnee-Beth Cross

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