How To: Cheap High Fashion Shoots

Live Art Love Fashion Shoot
Live Art Love Fashion Shoot

Shooting High Budget Looks Cheap

Unless you are a photographer, there is a good chance that you don’t understand the cost associated with photoshoots. This is the case for most clients. There’s the clients that want to pretend they don’t know the cost. Then there are the clients that legitimately don’t know. Now, if you’re an accessories or start up. You usually don’t have a lot of money set aside for photoshoots and marketing.

That’s where we come in. It’s our job to take a budget for a start up or smaller company and still achieve a high quality look. In a lot of cases, even with small budgets the client is expecting high fashion photography. We talked before about having a great team. Now we’re going to discuss some tips on getting a high quality set design and styling on a budget. People often ask “how do you afford studio, styling and wardrobe on a low budget?” Here are some tips on how we make it happen!

Live Art Love Home Studio


It’s rare that you will find the budgets that fit large studio rentals with limitless hours. In fact, in Los Angeles there are some wonderful hidden gems for studios. One of our favorites is FD Studios. It’s affordable and offers a variety of studios, set design and rooftops. However, because a lot of photographers know about this hidden gem, it can be a pain to book last minute. Even with their affordable packages - you’ll still work with clients that don't want to foot the bill. That’s okay! You have to think creatively.

Recently we decided to turn part of our home into an in-house studio. We only put up equipment when we need it. If you don’t live in a house but have an apartment or small studio. See what space can be used for a “photography.” You’re not trying to shoot the cover of Vanity Fair with 20 models. You’re trying to have a back up when clients can’t afford to rent studios and have simpler needs.  With that being said, if a client has a low budget they should have a simple vision.

For this recent shoot. We had a clear vision of what we wanted and created the space to achieve it. Knowing we'd be able to stretch the background in post. This saved us money because the "studio" was built by us. Thank goodness for Home Depot and friends helping over a bottle of wine!

Live Art Love Fashion Styling


When I’m talking about styling. I’m talking about fashion and set design. Do you need to have people on set that do both? No. It would help, but ultimately no, you don’t need them. Having a stylist is ideal but budgets don’t always allow for that. If you research ahead of time, you can do great styling on your own. 

When working with models you’ll be amazed at what they already have in terms of wardrobe. It’s a great idea to put together style guides that help the models pull wardrobe they already own. Then ask them to send photos of wearing 2-3 outfits before the shoot. This helps get a sense of what you’re shooting and decide any additional accessories or pieces you might need for the shoot.

For this shoot we lucked up because one of the model's friend wanted to style her for free. This worked out great because her friend gained experience and we had extra help.

Set design is about thinking creatively. You can grab textured boards, wallpaper tapestries etc. and do wonders. Again, it’s about that elbow grease. But if you schedule out your time you’ll have a few days before the shoot to create the backdrop that your client will like. When working with small budgets see what you can use around your house or even your friends places. I find that plants, textured blankets, crates etc can help a photo look more polished.

Live Art Love Wardrobe


Unless you’re working with a fashion company, you will need to figure out how to tackle wardrobe and props. I find that working with low budget fashion shoots it’s always good to have some neutral shoes in common sizes. You can find sneakers and heels that look high end at H&M, Forever 21 and Zara. In fact use places like these for accessories and shoes. You can also find a lot of great pieces at thrift stores, consignment and estate sales. When searching I like to keep an eye out for props and accessories that can be used on a number of shoots. If you have your references, you’ll know what you’re looking for and what fits in your budget. No matter what the budget is, set a small percentage aside to cover wardrobe and props. This will help you later. Don’t assume you won’t need anything. You’re going to have to buy an accent or two to make your shoot work. You’ll be happy you did!

Live Art Love home studio

Those are just a few ways to get a high quality look on a small budget. If you see yourself doing photography for awhile. Put the time into building your studio, styling and wardrobe closets.

What are some tips you have for getting a high quality look for cheap?

Thanks for reading!