Photography: George J Rockett / Edit: Zoe London
I adore shooting lookbook videos on YouTube, so here’s my top tips for shooting your own!
I think probably my favourite thing to shoot for my YouTube channel are fashion videos. I love doing simple style it videos to full blown music video-esque lookbooks. I’m very aware however how difficult they are to plan and orchestrate, and as it’s such a passion of mine today I thought i’d share some advice on how we make our lookbooks come to life – from vision and concept to final live creation on YouTube. First lets take a look at the latest:
Begin with planning the concept and idea.
You need an idea to start the basis of your lookbook, whether it’s just the clothing, or the song, or the particular location. Start with that simple idea and make everything else flow around that first initial concept. For me it’s usually based on a loose idea, like ‘festival’ or ‘summer’ and from there I fine tune my ideas. Let’s go with the lookbook above ^, which was always destined to be a Summer Lookbook. I had already planned my travel to Los Angeles, as part of our holiday together. From there I began to fine tune the concept into an ‘old Hollywood revisited’ inspired in part by the revival of old Hollywood movies, a la La La Land. Coincidentally shot in LA, of course. I loved the old grain film and the deep saturated shots of La La Land, even though it was Los Angeles in the present day it felt vintage, it felt inspired by times gone by and I knew that was the concept I wanted to work on. Personally I think the key to a good, unique lookbook is an original concept. Watch art, movies, fashion adverts and draw your own original inspiration from what you see. Make it totally unique as best you can.
Choose your location.
I can’t tell you how many days of my life are spent gazing out of car windows, hastily grabbing map locations, or taking dodgy blurry photos of walls and buildings on my way to somewhere else. Always take note of your surroundings, and find beauty in what you have. I shot for example this lookbook here in a multi-storey car park. Even though you might feel annoyed you don’t live in the best location ever (I do forever curse myself that I don’t live in NYC or LA), you can always shoot something, and often the ugliest thing makes the prettiest backdrop when used with the right outfit. We’ve shot anywhere from disused car parks and old crumbling graffiti walls, to fields and school rugby pitches. Go out on a little inspiration drive or walk if you’re planning to shoot near you, and note down little things that catch your eye. If you’re travelling like I was above, research as much as humanly possible, both about how the location looks, the logistics of getting there as well as being able to shoot there. For example, this photo set and the video were shot at the Griffith Observatory in Hollywood, which is notoriously busy, so I used google and my own experience of prior visits to work out the best time to go – it just so happened to be 6pm on the day we shot this, where we were able to find corners and walls without people in the background.
Plan your outfits in advance.
You really don’t need to spend a lot of money on new clothes. Some of my favourite lookbooks are using old or vintage clothes, and showing how to re wear them and give them a little love. Of course you can however plan in advance and buy clothes in for the shoot. I tend to plan a few weeks in advance to allow delivery times and just incase anything doesn’t fit. I have quite an eclectic style so to be honest I tend to get my inspiration just from browsing stores or sat online perusing my favourite online stores. If you wanted to however, you could keep an eye on trends using Pinterest or Instagram, and get a feel for the kind of thing you wanted to shoot. For example you may wish to do a jeans lookbook, and you might have in mom jeans and skinny jeans that you already own, but to bring a new element and make the video more helpful overall, you may want to consider purchasing a different style of jeans. My rule is three to four outfits or more for a lookbook, and just the one outfit for an OOTD video – for me I call my OOTD videos The Style Diaries. All outfits are carefully planned out just like my editorial pieces in advance and it’s honestly the most fun!
Make a full equipment list and get a feel for what vibe you’re after.
Sometimes you can shoot a video accurately on an iPhone camera, and other times you will need the help of a GoPro, a drone, a little pocket cam… to be honest whatever you have at your disposal! Absolutely none of this is essential, by the way. If you only have a G7X, shoot on that – perfect. But if you have other cameras at your disposal or your friends do, consider trying something different. Some of my favourite lookbooks from creators were shot unusually or uniquely using the tech they had. You could attempt shooting in super slo mo, as well as sped up shots… also underwater/Summer swimsuit lookbooks can be shot using a waterproof GoPro, to bring a new dimension to the video on offer. I pride myself on being probably one of the only fashion creators out there to use a drone to shoot lookbooks, and I love that that’s my niche. It’s the most fun to use different tech and this isn’t something you should rule out. I’ve been doing blogging and YouTube now for years and years so i’ve amassed tech, and i’ve invested in tech where I haven’t invested in say, handbags or luxury holidays. To me the tech meant more, and in this instance it allows me to have a leg up as I can work on something different.
You should always consider the use of a tripod or steadicam, it’s quite disorientating for a viewer to watch a video that’s quite shaky or unstable, and can be nausea inducing! Really! I know. George uses a monopod, just like this one here. It really makes a difference to the overall video quality.
Consider using props or alternative accessories.
You could if you wanted to use props in your videos. For this I often look to editorial shoots and music videos for inspiration. Previously i’ve used anything from flowers to flags, smoke flares and sparklers. You could use anything your heart desires, and you can get a lot of these quite inexpensively from local craft or supermarket stores. You might find if you feel a little bit uncomfortable posing (lets be honest, who really feels fully comfortable?) waving around a sparkler or swishing a flag will give you movement in your shots and help you feel more comfortable being on camera!
Finally, the song and the edit.
The song for you may have come as point one; the concept, which for me sometimes it does. I hear a tune and I just HAVE to use it as I can visualise video in my head to it. But sometimes the song comes after, and that’s totally fine too. Note that you absolutely can use popular music in your videos, just completely un-monetised. I’m not too worried about the £10 i’d make from the video so I take the ad hit to use the track, but that’s up to you of course. It’s one of the questions I do get asked the most though, and yes, of course you can use copyrighted music, just check its policies first in the YouTube ad library. Onto the edit, I edit using Final Cut Pro X, but you could edit using any platform you feel comfortable using. My advice is to watch as many tutorials as you can – I know they’re really long and boring, but you’re gonna want as much knowledge about the program you’re using as possible. Edit with the beat of the song in mind, and google anything you want to know how to do, as there are tutorials on how to do it. When I first decided I wanted to do YouTube around three years ago, I spent HOURS of my life watching very long tutorials and practising them myself. I’m fortunate because I studied film at University, so I knew how to work Final Cut, but it’s really really worth your time doing. Consider colour correcting the video – you may have to do this shot by shot but it’s worth it! For example my video above was colour corrected by me shot by shot using vintage film plugins, and I added grain and a letterboxing edge feel to make it look like an old movie.
Phew this is a long post! I hope it was helpful to some of you looking for an insight into how we film our lookbook videos. There’s so much more I could talk about, but I might save it for another day if that’s interesting to you! Let me know what you thought in the comments and if you’ve read all this and you’re still not subscribed to my channel, please do come on over and hit subscribe here.
Leave your thoughts in the comments!