After posting my #5 Lesson Learned In Millinery entitled "Form Creative Partnerships", I received many e-mails majority of which contained the same question: "What is the best way to photograph hats?" So, today, before I will go ahead with sharing my thoughts on My Lesson #6 Lesson Learned In Millinery "Be Your Own Greatest Fan And Your Own Toughest Critic", I would like to make few suggestions on the subject of photography. I always approach photography of my Collections from the stand point of telling the story. To me, every detail is of a great importance: the face of the model, the light, the make-up, the color of the hair and if it is an editorial photo shoot, I always make a great effort to plan every single prop from the theme to the wardrobe to the color pallet of the background. Styling photo shoots, as I discovered along the way, is an extremely involved job, but I do enjoy it because to me it is almost as an exclamation point at the end of the sentence, the culmination of the work. I realize that many milliners do things differently and budget is always a great issue. Here are my suggestions on hat photography: use professional models and professional photography. Make it your goal to polish your professional appearance, budget for it. It is not that difficult. I see a lot of Milliners who display their Collection via photographing friends or people they know. I have yet to see a milliner who managed to make it look like it is not a member of Saturday afternoon tea club. Remember, women don't buy hats to look like every day women, they buy a dream , an ultimate vision they have of themselves in this particular hat. They don't want to see your Aunt Polly (as lovely as she is) modeling the hat. Many milliners choose to display their collection on mannequin heads - there is nothing wrong with it. I often photograph my hats on the mannequins as well. When choosing a mannequin remember to select the one that represents your aesthetics the most. Do your research, find exactly what works for you and don't settle for less. I often see ghastly, really ugly displays and can not help to think that the only reason they were chosen is because, well, there was no other option. Millinery is all about the face, so make sure that your mannequin is not wearing terrible commercial make up and does not wear a wig. Both create an extremely unpleasant, cheap framing for the hat to the point that the hat becomes almost irrelevant to the viewer. Don't decorate your mannequin with earrings, necklaces, scarves - all of it will take attention away from the hat and create as I call it a "thrift shop" look. I often see hats displayed against draped tulle or draped fabric decorated with fake roses (seriously, what are you thinking!?) to the point that it is really hard to see where the hat begins and the roses end. In a few words, clean up your photography. The center focus of the image should be the HAT. Let your work speak volumes!
I always think of Millinery as a from of art. It may sound strange to you but for me, event though I am running an Atelier, the business side of it takes 2nd place. Don't get me wrong - business side is important of course, but I often wish someone would have warned me against certain things before I went on with opening my Atelier - it would have saved me a lot of money and protect me from many mistakes I have made along the way. In any event, I have no regrets. I choose to refer to all mistakes as my business tuition - every milliner ends up paying it at one point or another in a variety of different ways. Today I am posting my final lesson of the series, Lesson # 6 learned in millinery "Be Your Own Greatest Fan And Your Own Toughest Critic". I strongly believe that an objective feedback is a breakfast of champions. It is extremely important to receive honest, well explained feedback that goes beyond: "super!", "cute!" or "OMG, you are like so genius! ". The source of the feedback should also be considered very carefully. Remember, while the beauty of the design is a subject to privet opinion, you still need to hear from those who are professionally well aware of what it takes to create a hat. I can speak only for myself and so in the very beginning of my millinery career I resolved to request feedback only from those whose opinion I truly value. When it comes to professional feedback, I resolved to accept it only from those of my colleagues whose work I admire and whose work is a constant reminder of the high standards in the very art I work so hard to master every day. Of course, it is always great to hear from your friends and family, but remember that the opinion of those who are closest to you are biased. They love you and, of course, want to support you by default no matter what. Learn how to disregard it in a way, it will help you to keep yourself leveled. The opinion of my clients is always extraordinary important to me. Thankfully, I have an amazing clientele who loves my hats. :-) A lot to be grateful for right there. :-) I often receive a lot of very personal e-mails from people who ask my opinion on their hats and I truly, honestly, passionately hate answering them. There are many reasons to that, but the most important is the simple fact that it is very difficult to form your opinion of the hat without personally examining it. If you do decide to obtain professional feedback, be prepared to handle negative and don't take it personally. Take it as an opportunity to reevaluate and reexamine your own work.
I have people travelling to study with me from all over the globe:France, Russia, Australia, Japan, Ireland. Many of them are professional milliners. I see it as my highest obligation to my students to point out their weaknesses and their strengths when it comes to the hat design. I have noticed one very interesting thing: those of them who take critique of their work personally don't advance as sufficiently as those who take it to consideration. No, you can not take cheap materials and create couture hat and than price it at 450$ and higher. Suck it up and improve your work ethic, rethink your approach to choosing materials and put an extra effort into understanding composition. Your future clients deserve better than this. Having all of this said, I insist that the toughest critic in your career should be you yourself. I often speak of the creative inner voice. Listen to it! Do not settle for "OK" design and "good enough" technical execution. I believe that "good enough" should be considered an insult to any hat. Guard yourself from being stuck in the "arrogant" place: don't believe you are a fantastic milliner just because you decided so. Exaggerated self confidence can be of a great disservice to your development as a professional. Keep yourself educated, leveled, never stop learning new, don't get locked up in a narrow choice of shapes, experiment, try, master it until your fingers are bleeding, be relentless and determined but beyond all of it - truly love what you do (this includes not only the quality of your hats but the way you present them to the world). Hats are amazing creatures and if you know your art well and create beautiful hats than there is no reason why you should not be proud of your work. Be a great advocate and the best representation for your hats. Be your own greatest fan. At last, I am deliberately leaving out the subject of hat competitions. With in the past few years there were many of those. One might think it is a great way to be evaluated as a milliner. I happen to disagree, let's just leave it at this. Finally, upon many requests below you will find the sum of all "Lessons Learned In Millinery" series. I will share much more with you in the nearest future. Answering the question e-mailed me by Ms.L from Australia "don't you afraid to share your knowledge so freely?" I can only say no, I am not afraid. I believe that only those who know their limits are afraid and I happen to feel that there is no limits in Millinery for me.
My #1 Lesson Learned In Millinery "Dream Big" can be found right HERE. :-)
My Lesson #2 Learned in Millinery: "Be The Hattiest Of Them All!" is HERE.
My Lesson #3 Learned In Millinery: "Don't Be Afraid To be Afraid!" is HERE.
My Lesson #4 Learned In Millinery:"Surround Yourself With Positive." is HERE
Finally, My Lesson #5 Learned In Millinery " From Creative Partnerships." can be found right HERE.