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Posing for Brands—Part III: Offstage Modeling to Sell

Like the other articles in my Posing for Brands segment, this entry is pretty specific. You can use this information in ad modeling—modeling in brand photoshoots and influencers on Instagram and other social media—that is, if you’re being sent free products or being paid to promote a brand on your personal or business profile. If you’re working with a photographer during a private brand shoot, some of these items won’t really be fully under your control (for example, choosing a background); however, good photographers will definitely work with you, and the information’s still really good to know for just about everyone!

In any pose, highlight the brand first

Make sure that when you pose, the item that you’re modeling is front and center. Display it in a way that makes sense, but make sure the pose looks natural and relaxed. For example, see my brooch photo for Puvithel below.

Kal Frenzel | Puvithel Crystal Heart Ouji Brooch

Kal Frenzel | Puvithel Crystal Heart Ouji Brooch

When photographing Puvithel’s new 2017 releases from her Existence is Futile line, I had a hard time coming up with poses that would be flattering to show off her tights/OTKs. Sally, the model, suggested this photo on a back alley staircase. It ended up being the shot that I had in mind after all!

Model: Sally Asbury. Brand: Puvithel, 2017.

Even if you’re “just” the model, don’t be afraid to speak up if you have an idea. A photoshoot is about collaboration. If the designer likes the idea, why not? It’s not like we’re wasting film!

Try to match—or contrast—the brand’s aesthetic

As I’ve mentioned before, you are the mannequin. Try to find poses and, if you’re doing this by yourself, locations that will highlight the brand. Try to match the brand’s feel when you choose your locations and poses. If it’s a pastel, super colorful brand, choose a location that could mesh well with that.

I have a photographer friend who’s been doing this very well in their recent work: Meci J Photography. When working with Kristina Elle, they chose backgrounds and concepts—even down to the lighting—that would work well for Kristina’s fashion. Granted, Kristina isn’t modeling a specific brand (she’s modeling for her own brand. More on that later), however these same techniques can be used to promote a clothing brand. These photos are graphic, colorful, and interesting, yet somehow aren’t too busy for the eye.

Model: Kristina Elle. Photographer: Meci J. Photography

When taking photos like this, make sure you’re posing in a way that will reflect well on the brand. Again, this is kind of self explanatory, but keep in mind the brand’s attitude—whether they are funky and fun or more elegant and graceful. If they chose you to model, likely your personality will match theirs, but keep in mind that the final photos will either be in a photobook, a lookbook, a website, or prints alongside other photos the brand have taken with other models. Because the way people see a brand relies so heavily on images, graphics, and prints they produce, you want to make sure to keep your posing on-brand compared with other models they’ve chosen in the past.

Alternatively, choosing a contrasting background or contrasting poses can really make the clothes stand out. Take the below images for example, in a shoot I did for Ota-Q Apparel. The background is grey and neutral, but not boring, which makes the model and the clothes really stand out. The background contrasts the funky funness of the clothing in a way that it completely becomes the focus of the image.

Courtney, Ota-Q Apparel

Wear items in a unique way

Just like more striking images will get more attention, wearing brand items in a unique way will draw more attention to your photo and the items you’re modeling. Take this photo for example:

Kal Frenzel

I’m modeling Puvithel’s Crystal Heart Ouji Brooch here. While I’m wearing it in a very similar position that most ouji wear it, this image (and the entire photoset) got the designer’s attention because she had never thought to pair it with that kind of fashion. We struck up a conversation where she told me that she loves seeing the versatility of this brooch in particular; it can be worn in so many different areas and with so many different fashions that she finds these kinds of coords very interesting and exciting. When modeling for brands (if you have a choice in how or where to wear something), being creative with the items will always get more attention and more excitement than wearing the item just like everyone else—especially if you’re being sponsored on social media (Instagram!).

Especially on Instagram, people tend to search names of prints or brands to get inspiration and find unique ways they can wear their own items. Hashtag away, have fun with it, and don’t be afraid to get inspired!

Make sure the clothes flatter you

This kinda goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Just like onstage modeling, you’re representing the brand, and you’re representing how the products look, feel, and fit. If it doesn’t flatter you, people generally won’t want to buy it because they won’t think it will flatter them. If there’s a way that you can make the clothes fit you better, work with the designer to do so, whether its by fine-tuning the size or coording it differently! It’s your job to represent the brand in the best possible way, and since you’re modeling in photos instead of a live show, these techniques are much easier to deal with.

Make the clothes easy to see

In my personal Instagram account, I recently collaborated with a jewelry maker to model some of her non-J-fashion jewelry. When I was taking photos for her brand, I found it difficult to get cool photos that were still on brand for me, while still making sure that her work was easy to see! Jewelry requires quite a few detail shots, something that I do have on my profile, just not as often. I ended up tagging her in a bunch of photos where you couldn’t actually see the jewelry I was wearing! Generally, not that helpful.

Here’s an example of a detail shot that I love from that shoot.

Dzdjewelry, Lightningsavage Photography

And here’s that other photo. Cool, but not so helpful for her.

Kal Frenzel

That’s all for this one, guys! Stay tuned for Part IV, coming relatively soon. If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to contact me on Instagram or Facebook!

lightningsavage
Kal from Lightningsavage Photography specializes in creative portrait photography for J-Fashion enthusiasts and more. He has served as the J-Fashion event photographer for Oni-Con 2016–2018, as well as fashion shows, meetups, and personal shoots. You can follow him on Instagram at @lightningsavage_photography and @kaldec_

He is currently into visual kei and EGA fashions.