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Scylla Rhiadra

SL Vogue! How Do You Do Fashion Photography?

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Confession: I am a pretty lame fashionista, myself. I "know what I like," so to speak, but I don't think I have a very innovative or unique approach to styling.

I am, however, very interested in how we photograph SL fashion, and have been exploring some ideas on this subject. My own approach, which is really just an experiment, is to try to find a sort of compromise between the completely minimalist shot that features virtually nothing but the clothing, on an avatar who might as well be a dress judy, and the "busy" scenes that characterize a lot of fashion blogging, in which the clothing becomes all but lost in the action, colour, and shadow of the picture background.

What I've been trying are scenes that are self-consciously "artificial": they don't pretend to be pictures of people "doing things" in SL. I've used a plain white backdrop, but included some details that, I hope, add interest to the photography, "comment" in some way upon the clothing featured, and at least attempt to be a bit whimsical. The intent is to highlight the clothing, but to "contextualize" it in some way, and make the photograph more compelling than a simple snap in a catalogue.

It seems to me that this is somewhat analogous to how Vogue takes its pics. Here's an example that I've already posted elsewhere (I'll post some new ones eventually) that I think captures more or less what I want to do

Model-6-Blank.thumb.png.4fb8e81ce406564a048a383794a4ecb2.png

Credits:

The Bubblegum Tree - Blazer T-Shirt Live Life
Rebellious Rose - Boyfriend Jeans
::ROC:: - Erica Boot

I'd love to hear some thoughts on your approach to photographing SL fashion, as well as some critique of the approach I'm trying out!

And, better yet, some examples of what you do! Let's talk about fashion photography!

(I'd ask people not to use this thread for "Where can I get . . ." posts, as the fashion subforum already provides a place for this. And the focus here should, hopefully, be on the clothing, rather than upon "how my avatar looks": we have a place for those sorts of pics already also.)

Edited by Scylla Rhiadra
Added credits and a few bits and pieces
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To contrast with the above shot, here's a new one, taken yesterday.

I actually don't think this one works very well, in part because I've nearly lost the minimalism that helps the clothing standout. It's an ok pic (a bit meh), but it doesn't do what I hoped it would do (and I think I may retake it, stripping away some of the elaborate background).

Model-10-ver1-Blank.thumb.png.60ccd083c90a8b44db178b4e7b058de4.png

Credits:

Valentina E. -- Amelie Belted Jacket
MH Unique Designs -- Telia Jeans
Equal - Alex Boots
Blackburns -- Fashion Mesh Eye Glasses

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Well...................where do I start on this. I have a specific style, which my sisters follow closely but each varies slightly. My style is clubbing, and smart casual. I don't do anything else here. I only have one pair of flat sneakers which I never wear. I don't have any grunge wear, unlike RL.

When shooting solo, I usually pick a backdrop location or at backdrop city. I use a simple studio box occasionally by Strawberry Singh.

For group shots it has to be at a location where group poses can be rezzed.  Then the usual windlight and graphics. I don't post process, apart from crop and exposure/colour, becuse I'm not good enough or quick enough to work photo editing tools.

The image below is older, and is Salty, me, Skye and Ellie, taken at Charleston Heights beach, owned by Zennessa, and where we lived for quite a while. Rezzing was easy and there were few interruptions.  :)

 

SL04.png

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2 hours ago, BelindaN said:

Then the usual windlight and graphics.

One of the issues I have is with Windlight (and also in post-processing), because, unless you're using an "optimal" WL -- one designed to show off the avatar to the best effective -- you can end up changing the colours (and sometimes hiding the details) of the clothing.

On the other hand, a shot using an optimal studio light is often really kind of dull, and without shadows.

You've used a very clear WL above, though!

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   I occasionally do fashion shoots when I feel guilty about buying something because it looked pretty, but can't be bothered to make a full scenic shot with it. Usually I'll keep the background somewhat plain, and light it as I would any other scene, with full focus on the subject. Usually the shots feel a bit half-arsed though, because they usually are. Broke some rules of photography in these examples that I probably shouldn't have:

 

Heile, heile Segen

   Clipped the subject below the knees and didn't put in enough head space in the frame.

 

Contemplative

   Subject is looking away from the spacing, which disturbs the focus. Also, the knees again. I could probably get a better picture out of that by just re-cropping it.

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To me, this equates to the type of pictures I do when I am blogging.  For me, my priority is showing off the outfit to its best.  I tend to take my pictures as close up as I can without cutting out too much of the outfit, and because I hate full body (head to toe) shots.  If I have to do one, I try to find a sitting pose that will work for the outfit as I find that easier than trying to fit my full avi into a standing shot.  I heard once that you shouldn't cut fingers or toes out of pictures as that is a disturbing image, and also not around the knees, so I always try to keep that in mind when I am framing up a shot.

1. Accessories - choosing bags, jewelry and hair that doesn't cover it up and compliments the look I am going for.  

2. Pose -  One that suits the outfit, doesn't clip/hide the texture or features of the outfit and makes me want to buy it if I saw it on someone else's blog.

3. Background - Do I want one that will make the picture part of a scene, or just a simple backdrop that will make the look the focus?  This is usually the part that takes me the longest.

4. Windlight/Shadows - I tend to use these to add a little extra to the pictures, but sometimes things look better without them.  It all depends on what look I want for my picture

5.  Editing - I tend not to do much editing to my pictures because I spend time making sure they look as good as I can inworld, that often I don't need to fix anything.  But if I do, it's just little fixes like hair/body clipping, alpha conflicts etc.  Then I simply blur, add my current favourite filter and then I crop the picture to what I think looks best.

A couple of examples...

Image111.jpg

P.S. EYES!  I always make sure they are looking either directly into the camera to "connect" with the audience, or if they are looking away, it's because it suits the mood of the picture.

Edited by Jordan Whitt
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Thank you Jordan!

I get so frustrated when bloggers have arty (tempted to add rhyming word starting with f) pictures that do not even attempt to show off the clothes that I thought they were meant to be showcasing. 

Recent examples - model in deep full or partial shadow incl night shots where all detail of clothing is lost - poses that actually hide most of the clothing item -  shoes under water...

I have to stop - I am foaming at the mouth!

Emma :) 

 

 

 

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I don't consider my photos to be fashion photography per se, but I do shop a lot and enjoy getting dressed up and taking pics of my avatar. I also really enjoy exploring, so my photos are usually taken with an interesting-to-me place in the background. I credit my outfit and location on Flickr out of courtesy, but I'm no blogger.  Here is an example of my latest: an outfit I like taken at an interesting place, Frogmore. I try to find a complementary Windlight and angle.

If I could touch the sky...

 

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Great post @Jordan Whitt -- lots of good points! And @Eva Knoller, lovely picture, and it really does highlight the clothing!

So, what if we start from first principles here, and ask some questions? I don't really have any answers to these -- I just don't know enough. But it seems to me they are useful questions.

  • What is the function of a fashion photo? Is it to sell clothing, i.e., a sort of elaborate advertisement? Or is it to show style? It seems to me a lot of fashion photography is about "style" rather than a particular garment -- it's about identifying a "look," in a broader sense.
     
  • Is fashion photography a "genre" of photography in its own right, like portraits, or landscapes, or still lifes? In other words, does it have its own rules as an art form? Or is it merely functional -- i.e., selling clothes, or a style?
     
  • What's the function of a backdrop? In theory, the best way to highlight a garment is a completely blank backdrop that focuses all attention on the clothing. So, why do we use backdrops at all? (Which is a question aside from how best to ensure that a backdrop isn't detracting from the garments by being too busy, too colourful, noisy, etc.)
     
  • What is the function of a pose? Again, in theory, something extremely simple might theoretically be best, but poses can communicate an attitude that you want associated with a particular look or garment. It can, I think, also accentuate things about the garment, like how it flows, it's "line" and so on?
     
  • And again, with Windlight -- in theory, the "best" Windlight is a low shadow, medium contrast, neutral lighting that shows off the colours well. But Windlight, again, can convey things about a garment -- the kind of mood or attitude, or context, that it's associated with.
     
  • Does SL fashion photography differ from the RL thing? Above and beyond the technical considerations (making sure that you don't create alpha glitches, or that clothes aren't "cutting" each other), that seems to me to tied into the question of how SL fashion, as a whole, differs from RL fashion.

I think a good, interesting fashion photograph actually helps "sell" a garment, and highlights style. It's finding a balance that is important.

Here's a recent shot I did. I have no idea if it's any "good" as a fashion pic, but I wanted to both highlight the garments, and communicate something about the attitude they conveyed. And in part I wanted to do that by telling, in miniature, a "story" about it.

Model-9-Blank.thumb.png.71813151327be503f3fe353b51508aff.png

Edited by Scylla Rhiadra
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On 6/30/2020 at 4:43 PM, Scylla Rhiadra said:

One of the issues I have is with Windlight (and also in post-processing), because, unless you're using an "optimal" WL -- one designed to show off the avatar to the best effective -- you can end up changing the colours (and sometimes hiding the details) of the clothing.

On the other hand, a shot using an optimal studio light is often really kind of dull, and without shadows.

You've used a very clear WL above, though!

Not that I know anything about fashion photography in-world or IRL, but a couple thoughts (sorry if you already thought of this stuff):

Though images with low contrast between the model/clothes and the background can convey a mood, and perhaps interest people in the clothes because of the associations (cool, edgy, whatever), I would think that to really showcase the clothes, you would want good contrast with the background. I guess brand managers (or just photographers in SL who want to make these pics because they like doing it!) have to balance all that. Perhaps even if viewers cannot see a lot of details in the clothes, if they like the image associated with the clothes in the photo, they will go look at the clothes in-person, or track down images that show better details and more accurate colors. IRL product photographers, and I thought fashion photographers, too, spend a lot of effort in color management so the colors *are* accurate (I used to do that when shooting IRL, too; shoot a ColorChecker, use a calibrated monitor, print at a place with good color management). In the end I would guess like with everything else there is no one perfect, or even 'best practice' approach for the whole genre, and you have to figure out what the order of importance for the factors you can control and work with the limitations of the medium.

Wrt to the lighting of one thing affecting the colors and whatever of another, IRL unless you are shooting in a studio, you often have to deal with mixed lighting/color casts, especially if you use extra lighting. This can be handled in a lot of ways, again depending on what you are trying to do. However, if you want all the lighting the same, and are not trying to light the whole outdoors, you can just use much stronger light of the quality you want on the subject. I don't have any experience with it, but I would guess IRL photographers want more accurate light on the subject, and perhaps warmer light in the background, though again, a lot of people take photos early or late in the day to get the warm, soft Golden Hour lighting. In that case, clothes may look appealing, but are not going to look like that for the people who buy them unless they only wear them outside early or late in the day, lol. Personally, for SL photography, I probably would (and have) use compositing. One thing to remember, of which I am sure you are aware, is that color perception is relative, not absolute. So even if you get perfect, accurate lighting on the clothes in a technical sense, the background colors/color casts are going to affect how people see the clothes in the final photo.

Better, more experienced photographers may certainly take issue with things I said above, but just how I see it, and something to at least think about a little, maybe.

Hope this helps in some way! :)

ETA: Btw, in the studio, people use gels to get lighting that is less 'sterile' or 'clinical.' You can even mix that with clean white light ( a bad term, but I think you know what I mean). Probably mostly used as an accent light of some sort, but you certainly could use it for main light effects, if you wanted.

Edited by CaerolleClaudel
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13 hours ago, Emma Krokus said:

I get so frustrated when bloggers have arty (tempted to add rhyming word starting with f) pictures that do not even attempt to show off the clothes that I thought they were meant to be showcasing. 

I'm not very good at that particular style of photography.  I think it's cos I am not really artistically minded.  I like simple pictures that showcase the items I am blogging that will (hopefully) make someone go "Omg I want that *item* now!"

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