Finding a Photographer to Shoot Your Outfit

The umbrella is fun but it detracted from the dress so I didn't use this photo for the contest.
The umbrella was a fun prop but it drew attention away from the dress so I didn’t use this photo for the contest. I love the light in this photo. (photo by Susie Biehler)

I knew that if I wanted to enter the BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern contest, it would be a good idea to find someone to photograph my dress. My husband has taken pictures of me wearing various hats or outfits but what usually happens is that I get impatient with posing, he gets impatient with taking photos (“OK, is that enough?”), and then we don’t get all the shots I really need. Plus he gets annoyed at my digital camera, which is too small for his hands (hubby is a big guy – 6′ 3″). So here’s what I learned about finding a photographer to shoot your outfit.

Search engines can be very helpful. I searched “fashion photographer San Francisco” and sent emails to about a dozen local photographers. Though I knew I couldn’t pay someone to photograph me, I could offer a trade, a hand-sewn top or something else, such as a custom-made tote bag. Because most of my experience is sewing women’s clothes so I mostly contacted women photographers. For the male photographers I offered to make a tote bag or something for a woman friend.

I began my search around the last week of January so I was cutting it a bit close. At that point, I had picked out my fabric but I hadn’t done any sewing yet. Photos needed to be uploaded to my BurdaStyle project page by February 15. So my time was running short, in my emails I told the photographers that I wanted to do the photo shoot sometime between Februrary 5 and 14 and that I could come to their studio or we could shoot outside, whatever was easiest for them.

I also mentioned that they would retain ownership of the photos and that all I wanted was digital files to post on BurdaStyle and on my blog. I also said that I would write about the photographer in my blog.

I got responses from most of the people I emailed. One was interested but sick and wasn’t sure she’d be well enough in time to do the photo shoot, another was going to be out of town during my dates, a few photographers said they couldn’t do it for trade because that was how they made their living. One photographer told me that her rate was $400/hour (yeah, way outta my nonexistent budget!). And the rest just didn’t respond.

After a few days, I realized I needed to explore another option — asking people I knew if they knew any photographers who might be willing to shoot for trade. I sent emails to a couple likely friends and here’s where I got lucky.

One lovely friend of mine works on a community newspaper and she passed along the contact information for a couple photographers, one female and one male. I emailed the woman first and later that day she told me she was interested! She told me she was available on the morning of February 9 and that we could shoot in San Francisco, perhaps among the trees in the Presidio, which was near her home.

That photographer was Susie Biehler, who’s a fine art photographer and shoots these really striking photographs of water and nature. (Check out her beautiful work here.) She wasn’t a fashion photographer but she told me that she’d done some fashion shots and new store openings for the community newspaper. I figured that she knew plenty about light and she was willing to do it in exchange for a hand-sewn top, so of course, I hired her.

The week of the photo shoot, she suggested that we shoot at the Palace of Fine Arts, a beautiful San Francisco landmark that was made famous by Alfred Hitchcock in the film Vertigo. The photo on this page is an outtake. Tomorrow I’ll be posting about the photo shoot.

Author: Chuleenan

Chuleenan sews, collects hats and shoes, and is a fabric addict. She is also the organizer for the Bay Area Sewists Meetup group.

2 thoughts on “Finding a Photographer to Shoot Your Outfit”

  1. I’m so glad you found a photographer! I have to set a camera timer when I do things for myself, my husband is not patient with the camera either! It’s really a lovely dress.

    1. Yes, using the hubby doesn’t always work out so I should explore that option. 😉 I haven’t experimented with a timer but I’ll be considering that for future photos.

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