dark self portrait in black lace dress

How To Use Your Own Clothes For Shoots

What can you do about clothing if you’re not shooting and editorial or collaborating with a fashion designer? You don’t need expensive clothing for your fine art or portrait shoots and you can use your own.

Here are a few tips about the things to keep in mind when choosing your own garments for shoots:

ITEMS IN ONE COLOUR
This is playing safe, but one-coloured items add timelessness to your images and a dash of elegance. I’ve used a black dress for countless photos without it feeling overused. Search for simple lines, lace, an interesting cut or for silky materials.

dark self portrait in black lace dress
I wore this dress for my bachelor’s degree promotion and loved the lacy sleeves so much that I’ve also used it in many self-portraits. It’s black, which fits well with my moody and emotive photos, while at the same time being elegant and, therefore, not too distracting in fine art pieces.

GET QUIRKY
If you’re doing a shoot in an urban environment, think about the quirky pieces you’ve got. It could be a pair of print leggings or a festival crop-top. Flea markers are a great resource of quirky items you could never guess even existed, all for fairly reasonable prices. Also, layer – layer – layer. Layers never get old, but they rather add depth and interest!

TRASH THE DRESS
Use your fancy old prom or night dress and go shooting in an abandoned environment. The contrast of the two might work wonders and you can easily create a photo story. Why not take a swim in the dress? I’ve done just that and it was a lot of fun (and you realize that getting out of the water is much harder if you’re wearing soaked clothes)!

(C) Isabella Bubola
I took a swim in my old prom dress and it was a total blast. My camera was positioned on a tripod on one of the rocks above the water and I dived, moved, turned and accidentally gulped sea water too.

COLOURS ARE EVERYTHING
See what I did in the photo above? I knew I wanted to shoot in the sea and since its colours varies from green to blue, my old orange prom dress was the perfect choice for the photo. The colours complement one another and that adds interest to the final image. Imagine if the dress was of a different colour. Black, brown, lilac? Nope, that wouldn’t really work. Learning about colour is the first step towards better photos. And if you’re shooting in black and white colours still matter because they determine the saturation and lightness of their gray equivalent (for reference check out the work of the amazing Louise Dahl-Wolfe, she completely mastered her craft).

ATTACK YOUR PARENTS’/GRANDPARENTS’ CLOSET
If you’re lucky, your mum or granny kept some of their clothes back from the 80s or even 50s and what you now have is vintage paradise. Vintage has been quite popular in the last decade, and its popularity doesn’t seem to fade. Find a model with unique features who knows how to rock vintage clothing and let the fun begin!


photographer self portrait with cameraAbout the author
Hi! I’m Isabella and I’m a photographer, blogger and applied arts graduate. I love spending my time creatively, or watching movies, drinking tea, playing with my cats and hanging out with friends.
Find me here isabellabubola.com or on Facebook and say hello!

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