Sustainable Fashion Photography: How to be nice to the planet on set

I grew up on the island of Bermuda where I ran around barefoot, befriending all the neighborhood cats, playing with Rollie Pollies in the dirt and digging my toes into pink sand and crystal clear water. Fields of Banana trees were more common to me than city streets. I’ve always loved this beautiful planet, so it’s a given that I’m interested in sustainability. It’s a passion that grows more each day, and one that I’m still working on.

In my last post, I mentioned my new goals and interest in sustainable fashion. So, how did it all begin? I first became interested in sustainable fashion a few years back, but have gotten more involved since moving to Los Angeles last September. There’s just something about living closer to nature that makes you want to be kinder to the planet. LA also introduced me to amazing vintage, regular flea markets, local artisans and sustainable brands. Slow fashion is new for me, but I’m already hooked. Second-hand shopping used to be more about the hunt, but now it’s also a way for me to shop sustainably without emptying my bank account. I’m happy my eyes have been opened! Once you see what’s happening in the fast fashion industry, you truly can’t un-see it.

Illustration by me, inspired by Vitamin A Swim.

Illustration by me, inspired by Vitamin A Swim.

The beginning of my sustainability journey has been a bit overwhelming—there’s so much to learn! As a fashion photographer, sustainability is also a bit difficult to navigate. Do I continue working for any brand opportunity that comes my way, despite where and how their clothes are made? Part of me feels like I should be jumping at every opportunity, but I know it’ll be more meaningful and rewarding to work for brands whose values I connect with.

While I’m still learning how to answer a lot of my questions, I do feel confident in how I can make a difference on set. Here are some tips for creating a zero-waste photography set! 

-Encourage your team to ditch plastic and single-use products by providing eco-friendly and reusable alternatives. Some good swaps are…

-Mason jars instead of plastic water bottles.

-Stainless steel, paper or hay straws instead of plastic. Perfect for when your model needs to have a drink without smudging his/her makeup!

-Instead of damaging props (balloons, confetti, etc), use plants/flowers, books, fruit or unique pieces you already have around your home.

On-Set-Sustainability-Illustration-Stacey-Lamb-Blog.jpg

-If you’re using a paper studio backdrop, tape your model’s dirty shoes and have your team go barefoot to make the paper last longer. An even better idea is to skip the paper and use a piece of fabric instead!

-Pack up all of your belongings and props in reusable bags.

-Make a note on the call sheet for everyone to bring a reusable water bottle!

-Use rechargeable batteries for your camera as well as your props.

-Use an iPad to display your moodboard and inspiration, so you don’t need to print anything.

-Leave no trace. If you are shooting on location, it’s important to always clean up after yourself! Bring paper bags for trash and recycling.

-When it comes to makeup, have some items on hand that you can suggest your makeup artist use instead. This includes paper-based cotton swabs, reusable makeup remover pads and a jar of coconut oil! This is especially helpful when the model wishes to take off their makeup before they head home for the day.

-If you’re using strobes, turn them off while the model is in hair/makeup and while you go on break.

-Buy a set of wooden clothespins instead of plastic clips in case you need to do some styling fixes.

-If you are providing meals or snacks, a charcuterie board is always a safe bet. Cut up raw fruits and veggies, make your own hummus, set up a bowl of olives, roll up loose deli meats and cheese and voila!

No-Plastic-Water-Bottles-Illustration

There are plenty of ways to encourage everyone to ditch the plastic. If you have any ideas, let me know in the comments below! <3

Creating the perfect Moodboard for your Photoshoot

So, you have a lot of ideas and found hundreds of inspiring images on Pinterest—now what? It’s time to create a moodboard! Pinterest boards are great to get you started, but they aren’t detailed or personal enough to send to your team. This is truly the best way to make sure everyone is on the same page!

Now that I have you on board (get it!!), it’s time to break down the steps. I’m going to run through my own personal template. Feel free to copy my ideas or take some inspiration and create one entirely of your own!

First, you need to have the right program to create this in. I prefer Photoshop and InDesign—both are easy and flexible for laying out images and text. If you have another program, great, but Adobe is my personal lifeline.

Let’s get started.

1. Logo and title. Include your logo somewhere clearly visible—I like the top left corner. Next to this, include a creative title or simple sentence to describe the shoot.

Moodboard-Title-And-Logo-Stacey-Lamb-Photography

2. Model. I like to keep this blank until I know exactly who I will be shooting. This is not the spot for inspiration—keep this as accurate as possible so the team knows exactly who to expect on set.

Model-Moodboard-Scout-Models-Jaskiran-Stacey-Lamb-Photography

3. Hair and Makeup. Here is where you starting pulling in the inspiration! Find a few examples of what you are looking for. Make sure the images aren’t too different, or you may confuse your team. If you are hoping to collaborate a bit more, you can always include a variety and write them a personal note.

Below the pictures, include a short sentence to describe the look you are going for. Images are most important, but sometimes a few words can really make a difference in clarity!

*For this shoot, I had the model come with her hair natural. Make sure to let them know in advance! The same goes if you will not have a makeup artist—tell the model so they can copy the look themselves.

Moodboard-Makeup-Stacey-Lamb-Photography

4. Styling. For me, this is the fun part! You can show a lot more variety in the looks here, or keep it very concise and simple. It’s up to you! If you are working with a stylist, more images means more room for creativity. If you are styling it yourself, these images will help to refer back to when you are pulling or buying clothing.

Don’t forget to include a small descriptive sentence!

Styling-Moodboard-Stacey-Lamb-Photography

5. Mood/Atmosphere. This part is really for you and the model. It shows them the mood you are going for and/or the location you have in mind. Try to include a variety of images and don’t repeat poses—you only have so much room to show them what you are thinking!

Once again, include a brief description of expectations. If you have a particular location in mind, this would be the place to write it out.

Mood-Moodboard-Stacey-Lamb-Photography

6. The Finished Product. It’s time to piece it all together! You’ve probably been doing this all along, but for the sake of the exciting blog post reveal, I’ve made this the last step. Here is how I piece together the final product. Obviously you can organize yours as you wish, this just makes the most sense in my brain!

Moodboard-Jaskiran-Test-Scout-Models-Stacey-Lamb-Photography

If there is anything you forgot to include or doesn’t fit nicely into the board, feel free to send a separate note in your distribution e-mail. Including as many details as possible assures everyone is on the same page and shows that you know what you’re doing. That’s the goal, isn’t it?!

Here are a few final images from the shoot. Do you think the team captured my vision? Let me know in the comments!

I hope this helps you put together a stand-out moodboard. Good luck!