lets talk context

I love seeing new magazines, shows and images popping up on my Facebook timeline, my Instagram and of course in my emails, but heres the thing that really drives me and my business contacts insane: no context to the images. 

No matter who you are from designers and photographers to make up artists, the first thing you need to do when putting together a collection of images or even a single image for that matter is give it context.  

What is context?  Heres a break down on context for make up artists, designers, photographers or anyone looking to create a visual impact: 

Context is the story behind the image. 

I have seen so many amazing shots (and an even larger range of bad ones) and asked the person posting "whats the context behind this?" 

"Its just body art, I love glitter. Its advertising my business." 

"Really?  Whats your business?"

This usually leads down the path of frustration and accusations of being a hater (a term used to describe anyone who questions you because its easier than fixing the mistakes you have made)

Anyone with a background in marketing will tell you the key to selling yourself or a product is consistency and a story.  Get the story right and you will draw people in.  Think of how you sell a book, a blurb on the back and a good image seals the deal.  

My work is a reflection of me and is designed to appeal to the people I want to attract, I do shoots in blocks: choose the model, design the look and style around a magazine I want to target or the brief from a client, shoot and share. 

For example, I give my students/proteges a task when they first come to me.  I hand them a brief. I tell them to design and shoot around a set theme to see how they handle the task and see how they preform working to a brief. Sounds simple right.  Well actually no.  Its also testing their ability to follow orders and see how well they will preform as an assistant. 

Any job that comes to me, and that can be anything from putting together the full shoot as creative director to just applying make up, has a brief.  

If I cannot follow the brief, the client is not happy, If the client is not happy I lose the gig ergo I lose money and they have to re-shoot which costs more.  Seeing the logic here.

Now if you want to attract brides you do bridal looks, party looks attract weekend clients who want quick, visual impact. I want to attract print and TV clients so my work is commercial and sits firmly in that vein. 

Going through my portfolio the work is consistent, it has a sleek commercial edge to it, with the odd freestyle paint or editorial look (more high fashion than simple and chic) tobreak it up and show a little edge to my work.  

The key is: it all reads as a story.  I give my work titles: neo geisha for example.  If I throw glitter around or create a body paint, you can bet your ass it has a reason and it will be part of something story led not just a random cool idea that I threw down the catwalk or did to show off my talents.  Why? because I know my audience and I know what appeals to them. 

So Whats the story behind your work? Are you creating a visual impact or just a random, hot mess? 

Lets start creating context and a story, think of your images as a one frame film and give them a plot.


stop and plan the shoot