The Art of Lookbook Photography

The Art of Lookbook Photography
26 Sep 2023

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Photo by Andrey Zvyagintsev on Unsplash

A lookbook is a set of photos that lets your customers not only see the product you’re selling but lets them envision that product in their own lives. Shooting clothing on a plain white background with no model can have its place at times, but to really showcase your products, you may need more. Real-life settings, lively models, props, and fully assembled outfits help the customer to see themselves owning it. Here are some tips on how to create beautiful lookbook photography.

Why Create Lookbooks?

Lookbooks are not only key to selling a product, but they help inspire additional purchases from the customer. Featuring the product as a part of a completely styled look helps the customer see how they can wear it and what other fashion products they might want to buy to go with it. Lookbooks are also your chance to show off your brand’s personality and to show potential partners or wholesalers why they should partner with you. Presenting the customer with high-quality product photography also helps to raise your brand’s perceived reputation. Better pictures and styles mean easier marketing as customers share your images on social media.

Set a Budget

Setting a budget is important to bring your concepts and vision to life in a realistic way. Planning out your costs ahead of time will help you choose where to cut corners when needed. Hiring a photographer, a model, and a stylist, and renting a studio, can cost a few thousand or more. While a team of professionals is a huge help in acquiring high-quality photos for your lookbook, we’re going to give you some useful tips for getting started on your own.

Look at Examples of Lookbooks

Lookbooks are fairly straightforward and not as complicated as fashion editorials. A model typically just needs to stand in a styled outfit. Lookbooks are everywhere on fashion websites and social media. Looking at some of the most successful brands will give you plenty of inspiration for how you want your photos to look. Pay attention to the outfits they create, the backdrops, and how the models execute their poses. Figure out if you want your brand to come across as serious or fun and playful.

Find Your Models

Sure, hiring a professional model would be great for a lookbook, but let’s get realistic. Professional models are expensive to hire, and many may not align with your desired target customer. Customers often want to see average, everyday people just like them in new clothing fashions. With that in mind, asking some of your friends to model or to help with styling and makeup can be just the right ticket. If none of your friends are up for it, explore websites for models trying to make a name for themselves like Model Mayhem.

Gather Extra Props

Some fashion lines sell specific items like hats or dresses, so you’ll need to find extra items to complete your model’s outfit. Using clothing, footwear, or jewelry you already have is one way to keep your budget under control. You’ll want to think about your style. When keeping it classy and chic, don’t overdo it with too many props. You don’t want to distract from the main product that’s being featured. Styling different outfits around your feature product to include in your lookbook will help the customer visualize all of the possibilities.

Choose Your Background Locations

The product and style you’re trying to sell will help dictate the location options. If you’re selling western wear, rural settings like farms would be an excellent choice, or if you’re selling streetwear, use urban settings. You’ll also want to think about your target audience. If the demographic you’re hoping to sell to includes mom figures, use home and family settings. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and use totally unique locations. Remember to keep your locations simple and not too colorful or distracting.

aylin-cobanoglu-5E4_Kdjy09s-unsplash lookbook photography
Photo by Aylin Çobanoğlu on Unsplash

Take Advantage of Natural Light

It’s easy to rack up your budget costs with lighting accessories, but in truth, you can take beautiful photos with only natural lighting. If you want soft to no shadows, shoot on an overcast day. A sunny day will give you strong contrast shadows. You can also create stunning photos by taking advantage of sunrises and sunsets. Even just the direct light from a window can create interesting noir-style photography. After dark, try taking advantage of street lighting and the glow from neon signs.

Create Varied Styles

Keep in mind that you can keep your model’s poses simple. Over-complicating things doesn’t help sell the product. Customers want natural poses that help them imagine how the product would look on themselves. You will also want to create different styles in the outfits you choose to feature in your lookbook. Customers love the ability to mix and match pieces of their wardrobe. The more versatile your looks, the more chances your product will resonate with the customer. Think about how the product could be worn in different situations. How could it be styled for a casual luncheon or a night out on the town with friends?

Stage the Season

Suppose your lookbook features autumn clothing, but you’re prepping your photo shoot during summer. Incorporate things like fake gourds and fall leaves that can be bought year-round. Or if you’re getting ready to shoot spring dresses in winter, grab some fake flowers and stage indoors to help sell it. Using props and traveling can be very beneficial when you’re trying to get a jump on the upcoming season. While travel will up your budget costs, it can also give you the opportunity to create stunning visual scenes. Take advantage of natural wonders and unique architecture.

Whether you’re trying to sell your own products or a beginner photographer trying to build a fashion portfolio, these easy tips should help give you an upper hand. Don’t forget to take notes as to what you find works best and what doesn’t work.


William Powell

William Powell is a writer and educator with a passion for marketing. He enjoys learning about the latest business trends and analyzing how global events impact domestic and international economies.

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