I have decided to start a FAQs series, these will relate to my label, Eustratia and perhaps even include some more personal subjects I get asked about often.
This is the first post in the series and I’m going to start with what seems to be the most popular subject: collaborations.
For such a small company, I get an insane amount of model requests and quite a few photographer requests as well. Some offer to pay postage but most just want me to send them garments to use in their photoshoots for free. I love collaborating with other creatives but as I run all aspects of the business myself I have to stick to a few rules and conduct my image-obtaining operations as time-efficiently as possible. I will try to explain the basics through the points below and hopefully give potential models a better understand of the process of choosing the right collaboration and the general needs of a small business with regards to photographic material.
What types of images are needed?
The images I use usually fall into one of the following four categories: 1.lookbook, 2.product shots, 3.editorial or 4.conceptual.
1. I always organise the look book shoots myself as they show the proposed outfit combinations for each collection and are also shot in an appropriate style to complement the mood of the range. Photographers are welcome to apply for these on a TF basis as long as they understand my needs. Previous lookbooks can be found under the “collections” tab on my site.
2. I prefer to have two types of product shots for each garment, one cut out on a mannequin and one on a model. I usually take the one on a mannequin myself, in my home studio. If the item in question belongs to a particular collection I will already have a model product shot from the lookbook shoot. I do however have some items that are extras or occasionally one that could do with being re-photographed and in this case I may decide to send it out to a model if I have someone in mind.
3. Editorial is the kind of shoot that I’m most likely to collaborate on. I’m only looking to do one editorial shoot every couple of months because I want to have time to put the effort into the outfits/styling and props. The photographer’s ability and style plays a big part so I have to be selective. The main objective with these sorts of shoots is, of course, to be published, so the style of the shoot will have to be, to a degree at least, in-keeping with the brand’s ideology (although I do like to show the versatility of my garments in terms of styling).
4. I occasionally organise conceptual shoots myself if a collection or outfit is inspired by a particular theme or mental image and requires a more involved shoot to put across but I’m also happy to collaborate on these. I love large-scale props, fantasy themes and polished fashion images. If you get in touch about something like this it is best have links to the team and a concept board ready.
How best to apply to model/photograph for Eustratia and what to include.
I try not to judge the format of the enquiry too much but there are certain things that make an application easier to read/reply to. When answering a large amount of emails, ones that aren’t easy to reply to might get left till last/overlooked.
- It is best to email email@example.com or contact me through the contact feature on my facebook page or website.
- It is always good to have an idea/theme in mind. It’s easy to ask if I have anything I need shooting, but the reality is, if I needed something shooting I probably would have arranged that already or, if I didn’t have time put a casting up on the facebook page.
- Always include your portfolio and measurements, I need to be able to see what your work is like and if you fit the available samples.
- If possible include a link to the photographer (and the rest of the team if there is one). The more information, the easier it will be to establish if the shoot is suitable and decide on the right outfit.
- Do not make your email excessively long. I just need to see the relative information, writing a long list of every project you have ever been involved in or why you think my ideology is compatible with yours isn’t necessary at this stage.
What is expected if you do borrow garments from me?
If you do borrow items for a shoot and hope to do so again in the future it is best to adhere to these simple guidelines: I am always understanding but this is my livelihood and I like my garments to be looked after as well as possible when they are out of my care and, of course, to get the most out of the shoots I collaborate on.
- Always treat the latex with care, make sure you know how to put it on/ care for it before you ask to use it in a shoot.
- Make sure you have appropriate dressing aid/ latex care products as it isn’t always possible to send them.
- Always wrap the latex in tissue paper and store in a zip-lock bag. Latex is a delicate material and can be damaged in many ways.
- If the garments get dirty, excessively sweaty on your shoot, it is best to give them a clean before you send them back. I’m sure no one likes to receive dirty clothes.
- Always send the items back via a reliable service if you are not returning them in person. Choose a fast and if possible insured service to return the items. It will only cause problems if the item goes missing because it will have to be replaced.
- Make sure you provide appropriate photos from the shoot. If I have agreed to send out something without a fee, it means you are expected to provide clear images of the garments that can be used for whatever purpose has been previously agreed. It is also good to double check with the photographer that he is happy to provide images and for them to be used in such a way because in the UK the photographer always has copyright.
- Make sure that the whole team involved know who provided the wardrobe and that you add a designer credit against every image when it is posted online, preferably with a link.
What work is involved prior to lending out garments?
When lending items out to someone I’m not familiar with I usually take some time to find out about the shoot/our arrangement.
Then the appropriate garments have to be selected, which involves choosing styles/colours and taking all the ones that are about the right size out and measuring them to make sure. Then they need to be put into outfits and accessorised if necessary. Any items that have recently been worn have to be washed. Even if they don’t need a wash I usually give them a clean so they don’t look covered with talc if the model/ photographer doesn’t have shiner.
After that it is ready for them to be wrapped and packed and sent on their way with the next batch of post.
Why it isn’t possible to work with everyone.
It must be evident that I started Eustratia in order to be able to do something that make me happy as a full-time job. One of the things that I enjoy most about owning a fashion label are the photoshoots. If I had the time and resources, I would arrange one every week and have the opportunity to work with a lot more of the creatives that contact me.
Unfortunately, everything I mentioned above is quite time-consuming and establishing a clear concept can take some time as well. So along with all the designing and making and events and social networking I have to keep up with just to keep the business going, I only have time for a couple of shoots a month and I have to make them count.
Does having a large following make a difference?
It does, especially if you are interested in remote modelling. I am willing to send out small items for reviews to popular fashion bloggers and also to lend out items for shoots that wouldn’t necessarily be my first priority style wise, as long as they are well-shot and would get a certain amount of publicity. For this to apply I am looking for over 10k followers on any one social media platform.
When I have arranged a shoot for one of my personal projects/lookbooks however, followers are irrelevant. I’m just looking for someone with the right look to style the way I want and bring the image in my head to life.
How to help Eustratia grow in order to accommodate more collaborations.
If you are getting in touch about collaborating on a future shoot, that would imply that you are already aware of and probably admire, to some extent, my existing work. In fact, the majority of emails I get start off by stating as such.
In order to create more of this work I have to make enough money to not only survive (which is hard enough already in today’s socio-economic climate) but to also make a small profit to put back into my work, or even eventually hire someone to deal with the garments loans. For a small business like mine, every order counts, no matter how small.
For those who have a small budget and would like to give it a try, I offer 15% off all orders in exchange for reasonable quality, clear images of the garments. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your portfolio for details. Such arrangements could lead to official collaborations, provided the images produced are the right standard/style. I understand that most of the people who ask to borrow items can’t afford full outfits but an easy way to show support would be to buy a small accessory. Helping to make people aware of the brand or growing the online following as also equally as helpful, and above all free. I always notice who follows and interacts with brand and will automatically keep them in mind for future projects (Although I often have a long backlog of shoots to prioritise).
I hope this post helpful and I’m happy to listen to feedback.