Paid Photography: Approaching A Client

Dior Couture Editorial image by Patrick Demarchelier

Photographers! So you've built up your portfolio, you are happy with it, you have good branding and you want to venture out into the possibility of getting PAID to take photographs. I'm not going to lie, it's a cut throat world out there, and more often than not, you aren't going to get paid for your work. You should be. Don't get me wrong. But many of your clients will be of the mindset that there is always someone else that can do it for cheaper or for free.

Designers/Brands! There is a problem with free photographs, and it is that, as a brand, you will usually have very little say in the format and content of the images and you do not have a guarantee that they will be usable. This is fair enough if you already have some set images to act as lookbooks, that show your products in the greatest detail to your customers. But just remember that skimping on paying your photographer and expecting some professional, highly detailed and well lit images is naive. This is something that should be invested in when you begin your company, alongside the investment of stock. The images you use to promote your brand are incredibly important. 

Now that's cleared up, back to photographers. You think you are (and have received feedback from others confirming this) good enough, and have strong enough branding, to start being paid. You want to go down the route of contacting brands or companies that may consider paying you for your fine work. Here's a few tips to remember:


An example of lookbook/catalogue photography from River Island AW13

1. Preferably find an email address for the relevant person. Avoid messaging on social media platforms wherever possible. If you really cannot find an email address (actually take the time to look), then message asking for the relevant email. If you have the person's name (and you've double-checked it's correct), use it. Woe betide anyone that spells my name "Ann" or "Ana".

2. Never use the words "hun" or "hunny" in your message. I would have thought this was obvious in any professional environment, but some people seem unable to restrain themselves. Same goes for "x"'s or smiley faces.

3. Spell check. Please.

4. If you are contacting a lot of people, it's understandable that you will copy and paste the main section of your message. But DO take the time to understand the brand (e.g. don't tell an affordable brand they are "high end") and personalize your email. 

5. If you aren't sure about the flow of your email, or you struggle with punctuation, read the email out loud. Wherever you naturally pause or stop should be commas and full stops. It will also allow you to notice any sentences that are awkwardly phrased.

6. Attach a pdf portfolio (under 2MB) or a website that isn't overloaded with flash. Your work should speak for itself without a pretentious flash design, so keep it as simple (yet branded!) as possible. Make sure you have some images related to the type of product the brand makes (e.g. jewelery, lingerie, clothing etc). If clothing then ensure your portfolio has simple lookbook/catalogue shots as well as editorials.

7. Do not claim to have worked with brands that you haven't actually worked with. Most brands, if you are good enough, won't care about whether you've worked for one of their competitors or peers. But if you DO wish to list the brands you have worked for, make sure you have worked FOR them and not just shot some pieces the model brought along. Unless you have had a conversation with the brand about creating some images FOR them, you have not worked for them. 

8. Suggest a free quick test shoot, or offer to shoot a sample in an upcoming shoot you have booked. They might say they only want published images, but chances are if you are good enough, and they have enough samples to give out (remember that some brands have a PR company that will have all their samples reserved to go out to press), they'll probably go with that.

9. If there's anything else you can bring to the table then mention it (e.g. a model you have in mind that is interested in the project, a location you have access to etc). 

Go get 'em!

Can you think of anything else that one should keep in mind when approaching potential clients?


Some Alternative Valentine's Day Advice

Anita De Bauch, shot by me. This was actually a halloween shoot but hey!


I don't do Valentine's Day.


And it's nothing to do with being single. I've actually been in a romantic relationship for 3 and a half years, and we have never celebrated Valentine's Day. Why? Because we don't believe that you need a "special" (see: marketing gimmick) day to show eachother how we feel. 


I've read some great articles from singletons (particularly love this one from Lea of The High Tea Cast, which is a superb blog) and of course the deluge of Valentine's tips and advice, mainly aimed at men regarding buying lingerie for a female. I've even read a few articles that seem to have the outdated idea that when a man pays for a date, it is then up to the woman to pay him back with sex. 


Now, I'm lucky enough not to have ever dated, or been friends with, a man who thinks that by spending money he is OWED sex (or in fact, owed sex in general). So, much to my dismay, I was surprised to find out that this primitive way of thinking didn't die out in the 1900s. Not only that, but men are being actively encouraged to think like this.


So here is my Valentine's advice, if you so wish to use this one day a year to show that special person (and I'm talking about those of you who are straight, bisexual, homosexual or otherwise inclined - too much Valentine's Day advice/marketing is aimed at men buying for women) you love them:


1. Don't just stop at Valentine's Day.

If you REALLY, really want to get involved on the day, do so, but don't make it a once a year thing. The most romantic gestures are often complete surprises.


 2. You don't need to spend a wad of cash on a dinner date to show you care. 

The best gifts I've ever had are hand-made and meaningful. I'm assuming you know what your partner or date likes, even if it's just their favourite film? Then hand-make (or if you are as useless at drawing as I am, hunt for something someone else hand-made on Etsy) something which will show your partner how much you appreciate and recognise their interests. Humour is great too. 


For example, my boyfriend knows how I love Bioshock, so he crept outside our flat one night and knocked on the door. When I opened the door, there was an empty bottle with a message inside and a box - the message in the bottle said "Would You Kindly Open The Box", inside the box was a Big Daddy toy!  



3. In a straight relationship, it should not be the man's responsibility to buy for the woman. 

This isn't the '50s, it's common for women to be working for their money, and equality goes both ways. It is not acceptable for women to expect a gift from their male partner, just as it is not acceptable for a man to expect sex in return. Girls, I know it's nice to feel spoilt once in a while, but it also feels amazing to do the same for others, including him! The best dates I've had with my partner have been those where we have both paid for and arranged different things throughout the day!


4. How and when to buy a woman lingerie.

I'm actually surprised that the emphasis is put on men buying women lingerie, because I'm pretty sure it's just as difficult for women buying women lingerie. Guys, you are constantly being given patronising advice regarding buying women lingerie, under the pretense that you are incapable of dressing yourself let alone falling head-first into the lingerie sizing jungle. 

 My opinion is that each case is different. There is no "trick" to buying the "right" lingerie for a female partner, because each individual case is different. For example, I've never been bought lingerie because I am ridiculously picky (not to mention have very expensive tastes, which would make me feel uncomfortable if someone were to buy me something from my wishlist). If I were in the dating game and a man bought me lingerie fairly early on in the relationship, I would probably be put off. So, make sure you really know her before you consider buying her something.

And even then, how sexy the lingerie is is a rather dangerous game to play. Unless she's a complete sex kitten, it's probably best to go with something luxurious and well-made rather than full on crotchless briefs and harness. 

 The sizing game is a tough one too. But you don't need to be buying her a bra. There's a whole plethora of lingerie that is much easier to size correctly. If you only have an incredibly vague idea, what about a silk chemise? Also, so many brands do little easy gifts now (including *cough* these Beauty Queen Pin Up Tins from Playful Promises), usually knickers that have enough stretch to be vaguely sized as small, medium or large. Alternatively, go to a small independent lingerie boutique and ask for help - the ladies that work there will be more than happy to give you some ideas. 


Also, for those fellas reading.

Wig stylin'

As a follow up to my previous post on wig advice, I've put together a few ideas about styling wigs.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make, even when they have bought a decent-quality wig, is just wearing it straight from the packaging. In my opinion, a wig should not be an obvious giveaway. No matter how outrageous the colour, you can still make it work like your natural hair!

For example, I've recently purchased this wig and haven't styled it yet. It probably isn't the best example as the wig itself is fantastic quality, with a fairly good fake parting. However, here you can see how it is styled straight out of the box:


Eek - no eyes!

There are two ways you can deal with the super-long-fringe-of-doom (you do not push the wig back so the crown sits on top of your head and you do not leave the fringe as is and blink your way through) you can either push it to one side so it is flipped across your forehead: 



 This way it is always best to either pin it into place or cut the fringe into a slant. If you are going to go down this route, I always find it looks more realistic if you wear the wig at a slight angle, as if the parting is a side parting. 

 To cover the giveaway fake parting, hats, hairpieces and hair clips are your friend!

Or you can just shorten the fringe by cutting it straight across (or asymmetrical or even in a widow's peak if you prefer!). I have found the best way to ensure a straight fringe is to cut it while the wig is on. If you are not used to cutting your own fringe then start out slowly, only taking half an inch off and try to even it out as much as possible. Here I have also cut a little piece for the side of my face, to draw attention to my fake cheekbones!


A straight fringe frames my face just the way I want

 Of course, some wigs may require a bit more styling than this one, which already has a great volume and length. Sometimes you may need to do a bit of reconstructive surgery on a particularly bad wig; always helpful if you have a friend with hair skills! 

The only thing that is left is to experiment with the wig as if it were your own hair. Try up-dos, braiding, plaiting, victory curls, finger waves, mixing in coloured extensions..... some wigs are even heat-resistant and will allow you to curl or straighten them. I always like to have long wigs up off my neck, and use the length to clip up onto one side, like this:


Capt. Swiczeniuk signing off!

Wigs! Wigs! Wigs!

I have an obsession. Whereas most women covet shoes, I covet wigs. 

Many would consider "too many" to be over 10. My current wig count has reached 22.

I love the flexibility that wigs allow me, and I will rarely be seen with my natural locks. I have the ability to be a blue-haired siren, a 1920s starlet, or a Victorian secretary with a quick brush through and a few handy styling tips. 

In this post I'll be going through some questions concerning wigs, where to get them, how to take care of them and more!


 Common Question: Where do you buy your wigs from?

Always, always, always from sellers on ebay. This is where you will find the best quality for the cheapest price. Personally I like to go for a wig between the bracket of £10-£25, which means that you will NOT be able to purchase a human hair wig (usually costing over £100) but with the recent advantages in synthetic hair fibres, you can often find something heat-resistant. What you need to avoid at ALL COSTS is anything that looks bad quality, as it will not last 5 minutes, and then you have to deal with tangly wig death. Here are my golden rules for ebay wig shopping:

1. Be different. If you have seen a red wig one one girl, don't put blinders on and only look for a red wig in exactly the same style. 

2. Take your time and try to narrow down the search with the correct search terms. For example, I am looking to purchase a green wig. Searching for "Green wig" on worldwide search comes up with 3,310 results. "Long green wig" narrows down to 1000. 

3. Automatically disregard anything with "fancy dress" in the title, and anything which hasn't been photographed well. Look for items with product codes in the title (usually a letter followed by some numbers).

4. Look for wigs with good product shots showing close ups, the back and the top. 

5. When you have found a wig you like the look of, try to search for the product code for a cheaper deal. Many of the ebay sites use the same suppliers and therefore the same product codes.

Some wig shops I have purchased from before include..

WigfashionLulu's wigs - Vogue wigs - Annabelle's wigs - Cog and marc


fykodona asks: How can you know if the wig is going to suit you if you can't try it on? 

Truth is, you won't know until you either find a friend with wigs, or bite the bullet and purchase one. If you are really worried about it, you could try using the old Photoshop however it really is hard to say how the wig will look in reality. If you are about to buy your first wig and you are worried, I would suggest sticking to natural colours and styles and branch out from there. 


Kaebambi asks: is it okay to brush a pre-styled wig? I have a few that are curly/wavy and I've lightly brushed it and it just got messier!

It depends on the quality of the fibre, and how heavily styled it is. For example, I have various long wavy wigs that tend to get matted easily, and I also have a short fingerwave wig. As the long wigs don't have a set style, they are often easy enough to brush through, whereas I wouldn't dare brush the fingerwave wig at the risk of disturbing the style. Unfortunately curly/wavy wigs are just more likely to get matted and they will not last forever. It also depends on the way they are being stored. 


Autopsyjude asks: how do you get your wigs to stay on through out the night? are you allowed the headbang or jump around or dance? also, how do you wear your hair under the wig? i can't get mine to be as flat as possible without having hair bumps show through..

To be honest I wouldn't suggest any hard headbanging! But yes you can dance around without feeling insecure about your wig if you attach it securely. Most wigs will have elastic around the inside that joins together with two adjustable clips (this video will explain a little easier). Once connected the elastic will fit tightly around your head; if you still don't feel secure you can always use hair pins to attach it to your wig cap.

 One problem with wigs is that it CAN feel uncomfortable and hot, especially if you are not used to the extra weight. This moves on to the second part of your question: you absolutely must use a wig cap. As embarrassing as they are, they do work wonders at hiding your hair. If you have long hair, I suggest tying in a ponytail and pinning upwards before putting on the cap. Try to go for a skin-coloured wig cap rather than black, as you don't want it to show through your wig. 


Yukidoll asks: do you have tips for styling wigs and keeping them in good condition? mine tend to go a bit frizzy after a while, and it gets worse if i brush them, i usually get knots out with my fingers! x_x

Again, it all depends on the quality of the wigs, but you have to remember that wigs won't last forever and there is only much care you can give it before the fibres start looking frazzled. Some of my wigs I have had for about 3-4 years, whereas others have given up home in a matter of months (oddly enough, these were mostly black ones). I find that it is mostly the back underneath of wigs that start to go first. I have been told that brushing them will just make it worse, so it is probably best to use a wide tooth comb and at least try to break up the mess into sections with your fingers. Also, there would be no point in washing a wig without first detangling. 

I think my luck with wigs is mainly down to the way I store them. Re-sealable plastic bags (ones meant for food will be best) are your friends! Usually the original wig packaging is perfect (if they come in their own plastic bag with black netting); if you happen to have kept the packaging I suggest folding the wig in half and popping the net over it. Pop it in the resealable bag, squeeze the air out and keep them all together in a box or bag somewhere. 


And thats all for now! If you have any other questions, please send them over to my formspring.