Month: October, 2010
Since the weather is changing, I felt this post only appropriate. It’s time to introduce you to some Fall Fashion!
You don’t need to be a former model to be a great creative director. However, stepping in front of the lens allows one to gain perspective on what the photographer is looking for from their subject, and what the person being captured needs to do for an awesome shot. Having this understanding, last Fall, I decided to put together a lifestyle photoshoot with Bentley, model from the Mattison Agency, and her precocious daughter, Savannah.
Bentley’s portfolio consisted of many high-fashion editorials and a few campaigns. I wanted to add some lifestyle shots to her book, so I enlisted the help of Elton Anderson, noted fashion photographer (I always wanted to say that), Nicole Alexis, make-up artist, and my cousin Kelechi Kalu, fellow stylist, to bring this project together. To keep the story consistent, Kelechi and I decided all three of us would wear bowties in our group shots. I was also able to pull a dress in the last look from Delilah Johnson, fashion designer from Miami.
Initially, the lifestyle shoot posed some difficulties for Bentley. One of the hardest things for a fashion model to do is be natural and not pose. A key difference between lifestyle and high-fashion shoots is the emotion the image evokes. One is more natural while the other is about fierce posing. After a couple of clicks and some light direction, Bentley found her rhythm. Soon it was time for me to step in front of the camera. Elton began to direct Kelechi and I on set, and I must say, it’s not as easy as it looks. Nicole, Alexis and Bentley chuckled as we tried to get into the groove of things. If you know Kelechi, he loves the camera. As for myself, I enjoy taking pictures with my point-n-shoot, but I give you one of two looks: an endearing smile *adjusts halo,* or the patented misty eye. YEEAAAHHH BABY! *Austin Powers voice*
My experience in front of the lens taught me so much, from shot composition and directing groups, to movement and even “natural” posing. Looking back at my body of work, I’ve seen the growth in my directing and my clients definitely benefited from my brief stint into “modeling.” I won’t be stepping in front of the camera anytime soon, so no need to hide your kids (#noeddielong) or hide your wives. This stylist has already been shot.
As I cooked breakfast for myself this morning, I decided to check my bank account. *thinks* If I could just add one more zero behind that one, I’d have ten whole dollars. iKID, iKID. But in all honesty, since starting my journey as a full-time fashion stylist and creative director, I’ve had to make numerous sacrifices for my craft. It’s rare I’ll go into a store and shop for myself anymore. The days of purchasing a $250 pair of jeans are over.com/whatwereyouthinkinganyway, and I can no longer financially justify my love of Ferragamos. *deep sigh*
Instead, all my money goes to sustaining my business, which of course includes PORK Bacon and Red Velvet. #NOM! As a stylist, you always need working capital for shoots, especially when styling agency-signed models. It’s the never-ending, buy-and-return process. Purchase merchandise for the shoot, pray to Sweet Baby Jesus, who lies ever-so peacefully in his manger that the model does not damage anything, then steam, re-tag, fold and return the merchandise to the respective stores. *bbm whew face* Talk about risky business!
If you continue to buy and return in the same stores, your face becomes familiar to the staff. Some stores have the right to refuse returns, so you have to be strategic. I look at returns as if I’m going to war. My battleship WILL NOT be sunk. I often purchase at one store’s location and return to another. If that’s not an option, I change the shift of when I return the clothes. I know of some stylists that have been stuck with hundreds of dollars in merchandise because the store refused the return. What’s an up-and-coming stylist to do?!?!
Well, some stores will allow a stylist to pull (borrow) clothing and accessories and pay a 20-30% restocking fee of the total. *bbm talk to the hand face* Did I mention that I’m an up-and-coming stylist??? LOL I need ALL of my dollars returned to me. Another option is pulling from designers and showrooms. Depending on your relationship, the pull could be free, come with a rental fee, or result in signing your life away for $30,000 worth of merchandise on a loan agreement. Not to mention, if the designer is located in a different city or country, the shipping fees you will incur. Essentially, you have to spend money to make money. You don’t want all your looks to be off the rack as you progress in your career.
To sum it all up, being a fashion stylist is not always glamorous, but it’s rewarding if you’re willing to put the work into building your brand. One cannot have tunnel vision when pursuing their creative passion; you have to look at the bigger picture. Most importantly you have to do it because you’re passionate. Sometimes that’s all you have…
Check out my video interview with WA2 for his Young, Fly & Broke series. I go into a little more detail about my life as a stylist. If you would like the recipe for my brown sugar cured bacon, shoot me an email. Enjoy!