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How To News Styling tips

How to prepare for a commercial shoot

By Hannah Ruth Watte 

You might be wondering ‘what is a commercial shoot?’ And how might this differ from other styling roles? Let us set the record straight and help you prepare.

There are many different types of styling projects you might be asked to work on, but commercial styling has a few specific requirements that you need to consider.  

The job of a stylist is often split into three categories, editorial, commercial and more recently costume, with the differences between the three expressed through the final purpose of the image or look.

When styling for an editorial piece (a shoot for a magazine – either online or print), or for a project that requires costume/looks (music video, concert etc), there is often a focus on an artistic vision – meaning you have much more of a free reign to experiment with creating expressive looks.

However, when tasked with a commercial shoot, or styling for advertising and marketing purposes, the brief tends to be a lot firmer, with the focus purely on the clothing.

There are also various different types of commercial styling, including styling for a specific brand or using clothing to compliment the look of another.

For example, if you were commissioned to style the looks for a brand whose sole purpose is to sell sunglasses, then the clothing you choose will need to aid and support the impact of the image and not steal the show.

Often, it can be styled as simple or as fancy as you like, but as long as you don’t stray too far from the brief, then you’re on the right track.

Here are a few things you might want to consider before preparing for a shoot for another brand:

The brief

This will be your best friend over the duration of the shoot, so it’s essential you go through it with a fine tooth comb and make sure you really understand what they’re asking from you. Make notes on any keywords, mood, tone or overall ‘look’ that the producers want to achieve in the shoot. This will help guide you if you are selecting the garments for the shoot (in some cases they may have been pre-selected by the brand and you will be asked to put together looks from these.)

The location

This is a big factor and will help determine the overall feel of a shoot, as well as the kinds of clothing which will suit particular kinds of locations. If the shoot is largely taking place outside, or at various locations, you will have to factor in the suitability of the outfits, as well as places for the models to get changed. The weather and environment may also play a part here! If it’s being shot in a studio, then you may find you have more freedom when it comes to putting looks together- and factoring in a rainstorm or chilly weather is not so much of an issue!

Outfits that compliment the shot

If the producers can send you a treatment or storyboard of images to be shot, then this is particularly useful in making sure the outfits you have selected match up with the theme for each image.

You can also work out the logistics of any changes required (very helpful for timings) and make sure your outfits work with the theme rather than overpowering.

Once you’ve taken all of these aspects on board, then it’s up to you (and the brief bible) to pick your looks and style it however which way you want- in-keeping with the feel of the brand of course!

And don’t forget, the aim of this kind of shoot is to sell the brand’s product, so that should be the intention you keep in mind when styling at all times.

Styling for a clothing brand requires a slightly different focus, check out our guide to get the lowdown.

Hannah Ruth Watte is a stylist and costume professional working across fashion, commercial styling, music and theatre. She is a regular contributor to Kozzii magazine. 


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