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