Wardrobe on a Budget: Salvation Armani (and nude)

Posted by Las Vegas Photoshoot Locations under
Arranging wardrobe for sets can get expensive.

You've got two options: 

Find cheap wardrobe.


Shoot nudes. 
(warning, this post contains nudity)

So... 2 options, and both have their ups and downs.

Find Cheap Wardrobe:
     About twice a month, I spend 2 hours or so going around to local Salvation Army, Goodwill, Savers, DI, and other local thrift shops. With various specials and deals, I can pick up a decent assortment of shoot wardrobe for $20 or so. As an example, the above two images were shot using this kind of wardrobe. The tops cost $2-$3 each, and the pants were $4. There's some nice stuff at these shops, give them a shot, even though some may smell like your grandma's spare bedroom.

     Most weekdays, for example, Goodwill has specials, like Tuesdays is "blue tag" day. Everything with a blue tag is 50% off. And with a blouse priced at $4, ($2 on Tuesdays, hell yeah) you can pick up a ton, plus some accessories, hats, dresses, pants, skirts... for about $20.

     As an added benefit, I'm a member of a modeling/photographer/etc website, www.ModelMayhem.com .It's the biggest show in town, and great for networking, but not the topic of this post. There's a market section of the website, and after I shoot through a few pieces, I list them there, at $7 apiece, or $5 for multiple items, with great examples of just how they look. With flat rate shipping boxes from USPS, shipping's cheap as hell, and I've covered the cost of the item. I think I've cycled through $300+ worth of wardrobe like this, with an initial investment of $20-$40. Buy, shoot, sell, break even after shipping, and use new funds to buy new wardrobe... which I'll sell in another month. It's a nice self-sustaining cycle.

Shoot Nudes:
     This typically does take a bit of work to get into. You either have to build a strong portfolio, or invest some money initially, and nude models, either art, nude, fetish, or whatever, are not cheap. Most solid, experienced models who are worth hiring are in the $75-$125 per hour range, the good ones are well worth it if you intend to go this route. 

     Work on your lighting with trade shoots, hire a fantastic nude model, and get to work. The below model I hand picked and flew from New York to Las Vegas, and got some of my favorite nude shots of my career. Sure it cost half the cost of getting a new "L" lens... however, I have yet since to shell out any cash for a nude shoot. Build a solid port and you'll have a better shot when you approach a model with a concept involving nudity on a trade basis.

     For me, though, there's just something about art nudes that really gets my artistic side going. At the moment I have one project I'm working on, artistic nudes involving hair flowers, as shown below. Something about being able, for this specific project, to sculpt the body, show just the curves, while leaving most everything else obscured, just makes me go "wow" and proud to produce these images.

     So either route you go, you have options. Sure, if you're working with models, they typically have a decent set of wardrobe options, but sometimes you'll find you want to work on a project that's all about YOU. YOUR idea, YOUR set, YOUR wardrobe. I find this more and more a regular occasion. If I can go to goodwill, build a set, find the wardrobe, AND get a new toy film camera for the cost of what my girlfriend spends each week on Chai Lattes? That, my friends, is good budgeting.

Happy Shooting.


On April 11, 2011 at 10:45 AM , Chad said...

Good advice, but there's really NO reason to ever shoot "fashion" without having a stylist pulling clothes from designers. Fashion is about what's NEW, not about what's old that you can find at Goodwill.

On June 14, 2011 at 8:03 PM , Photography on a Budget said...

True. However for beginners, who are interested in building a fashion or (fashion oriented) portfolio, using whatever you have on hand to show off the skills that are typically associated with that genre. At the moment, my current fashion portfolio reflects fashion trends of 1-3 years ago... editors can see I am capable of shooting the style, and I then do a wardrobe pull to showcase current trends in an editorial. (which will be 'old' in a few months to a year anyways)

Shooting fashion 'style' is different than shooting a fashion editorial. One is done to showcase what's NEW, definitely, the other just showcases skills and abilities.

On July 31, 2011 at 1:10 AM , michael_and_carina said...

Great advice, Jay. You continue to inspire!