One of our fabulous speakers at the Atlanta, Texas and California Seniorologie Tours, Courtney DeLaura, just happens to be the create genius behind the beautiful photos that grace the Altar’d State website and the gorgeous Look Books that they publish.

Just like many of you, I have always been interested in the creative process behind publishing a Look Book.  So I asked Courtney to give us the scoop!  Her advice, creative process, photos from the newest Look Book and more are below!  Thanks for sharing Courtney!

Definition of lookbook


  • a set of photographs displaying a fashion designer’s new collection, assembled for marketing purposes.
Lookbooks are a very powerful tool, one that is mostly utilize by retail establishments.  Photographing a lookbook is one of the most fun projects I have ever had the honor of working on. Today I am thrilled to share with you how I approach all my lookbook shoots for Altar’d State.

When creating a look book I advise you to step away from the internet, step away from Pinterest, step away from other photographers blogs, just step away, go somewhere quiet without any distractions and really truly envision what you want this book to feel like, what story do you want to convey and what message do you want the audience to instantly read loud and clear.
Your retail client will want their brand and/or product be highlighted in the most beautiful way possible.  With lookbooks you will have an overall concept that ties everything together. It can be as simple as a farm.  The location becomes the tie that binds the entire look book together, every image is shot at the farm. Utilize the fields of wheat, the old barnwood, fences and old ladders.  Make sure before deciding to shoot at an old farm that it matches the particular retailers brand.  A lookbook is a branding tool, it isn’t a catalog.  It isn’t meant for the reader to purchase from, it is meant to excite them, make them want to know more and visit the store.
When you are dreaming up your concept,  location or theme keep in mind it won’t only be models wearing clothing.  You also have to shoot detail shots of shoes, jewelry, accessories, and belts.  Start brainstorming how you can highlight the smaller items in unique ways.
Also remember that in many cases you’ll be shooting a look book the season before it is to launch. For example, a Spring look book will typically  be shot in the fall or the middle of winter. This was the case for the images featured in this article.  This photo shoot was shot as snow fell on the ground. When I sat down to clear my head and figure out the message I wanted to convey in this particular look book, I first thought of the clothes and the trends for spring 2013.  I noticed a ton of stunning pastels, floral and ombre fabrics had been coming through our distribution center.  I knew those trends needed to be highlighted. My dilemma was that when I needed to shoot the look book it was 27° outside and when I looked out my window all I saw were bare branches.  I wanted there to be some sort of blossoms, some floral, soft and springy feeling.  I would just have to create that look outside and utilizing white copy paper and a child’s watercolor set I made watercolor blossoms and attached them to winter branches creating backdrop that gave the feeling of spring when it was freezing cold outside.
If your photographic skills rock but your craftiness is lacking, find a crafty partner in crime, find an amazing event planner or DIY enthusiast.  You simply then become the art director, relay your vision to the talented folks you are partnered up with and over see the project.  You do not have to do everything, you can be capturor of amazing images. I just happen to love created sets and backdrops equally to shooting them.

Most important when shooting a look book BREATHE!  Do not feel like you have to rush, schedule plenty of time, even over the course of two days. Every Look Book I have shot has been accomplished over the course of 2-3 days. Models on two days and detail still life shots get an entire day of their own.  Prioritize with your client, have the stylist or marketing manager line up the outfits in order of MOST important, that way if you run out of time the least favorite outfit get’s cut.

Courtney DeLaura is the Creative and Photographic Manager for Altar’d State a cause based retail clothing store.  She also owns Get Schooled Photo, an educational site for photographers.  She is the mother to a soon-to-be high school, lacrosse playing boy and  a soon-to-be middle school big bow wearing cheerleading girl.  She LOVES the uber clique zombie trend, the beach, soy latte’s and her sweet loving husband.

look book images shot with;
Canon Mark II and 85mm 1.2
100% natural light, indoors.

Seniorologie 101 – {Creating Look Books}

  1. so inspiring! i can’t wait to use these tips and create a lookbook with my 2014 senior models! thanks for sharing, courtney! xo

heck, yes i do!

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