If you work for a large company with an actual marketing department, chances are your involvement will be minimal. The smaller the company, the more you will have to be involved.
Perhaps you’re thinking it’s a matter of sticking some cute outfits on some models, take pictures, Photoshop and print, right? Well, not quite. Here are some things to consider before you start. Some of these may be obvious, but I think this is a good checklist of things to consider for every photoshoot.
It turns out that producing a catalog is more about juggling schedules. The perfect photographer, models, stylist, makeup artist, hair stylist, CAD artist, and printer won’t mount to much unless you can get all their schedules in sync with your deadlines. Oh, and don’t forget you have to pay all these fabulous people, so make sure they also fit into your budget.
When choosing the photographer and models, keep in mind what your collection is about, the mood you want to convey. There is no best model, there is only the best model for the job at hand at the price you can afford. Remember to schedule a preliminary fitting. You can tuck and pin during the shoot, but the clothes should basically fit.
If you work for a company that doesn’t produce a full line (the company I work for is 90% jackets and coats) you have to consider the rest of the outfit. It can’t just be the hottest outfit, it has to be the outfit that makes the item shine. The item you’re selling has to be the focus. Each picture has to read “This whole outfit won’t work unless you buy this jacket. The jacket is what makes this model look so good.”
You may want to cut your expenses and style the shoot yourself. (Even cheap stylists can charge around $1000/day.) On that note, make sure you have all the clothes you need prior to the photoshoot. Models, makeup and hair stylists, and photographers are expensive and many charge by the hour. You can shorten the time spent at the actual shoot if you plan in advance. Style your outfits and buy the clothes and accessories you need. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing in the middle of the shoot that a pair of brown cords would be so perfect with that jacket, but you didn’t think to bring any. And time spent figuring out outfits while the photographer sits idle and model is changing outfits multiple times, ruining her hair in the process, is just wasted money and energy.
If your line is a full collection, try to merchandise the line so that you’re pairing items most wouldn’t readily consider. All your blouses would look great with jeans, but everyone’s figured that out already. Pair a blouse with a skirt most wouldn’t put it with, make it look amazing and all of a sudden, people are more interested in both items. Remember the goal is to sell.
When deciding how many photos you need, keep in mind page formats and printing. Do you want an accordion or a regular booklet stapled in the middle? If you want a booklet, you have to think 16 pages, 20 pages, 24 pages, because each sheet of paper becomes 4 pages. Think about paper type and weight. Think about your potential bestsellers–maybe you want them to have a full page while others only a quarter shot. Maybe you can shoot some items flat on the floor. You can shave off some model and styling fees this way.
Think about captions, what copy do you want on each page, what font to use and what color? Think about your cover. Also think about your back cover. Think about where you’re going to print your pertinent information like contact and ordering information.
Lots of forethought and planning can drastically reduce cost and keep the energy upbeat and flowing smoothly at the actual shoot, which should be your biggest goals. The last thing you want to do is produce a beautiful collection and then showcase it poorly by slapping together a shoddy presentation.