Inside A Photo Shoot

Since I launched Wardrobe Consulting in 1994, I have modified and added services and features to meet the needs of my clients. Based on your feedback, I’m developing a new Style section for my website. The Style section will show you how and why I make the choices I do as I dress people.

Meanwhile, here’s a behind-the-scenes look at my creative process for creating the Style section, in particular the initial photo shoot I organized. First, I chose a group of five women (sorry, guys … you’re next on my list) to serve as my models. They represent different ages, shapes and ethnicities. And that’s when the fun began. Working with a model for a photo shoot is no different from working with first-time clients. I get to know a client’s specific needs and then I begin painting their lifestyle canvas of dress. Take Christine Johnson, who I chose from a model search I held on Facebook. Soon after she committed to modeling for me, Christine learned she was pregnant. That just made my job – to dress her in business attire – more exciting.

Before the Shoot

My creative process started with exploring what styles of dress I wanted to highlight. I considered each model’s shape, coloring and the visual message I wanted to express through her for the Style section. I met with each model in a store and selected items based on what I wanted to project.

Shoot Day

Makeup, hair, lighting, clothes, accessories…all of it has to be ready to go when the photographer gets to work. Michelle Tabbert, senior hair stylist for Douglas Carroll Salon, fixed each model’s hair for the shoot. She says that capturing someone’s character and translating it through clothing, makeup and hair is an art, one that helps people feel empowered. And she and I agree: the process is exhilarating. Changing accessories, hairstyles and makeup can provide an entirely different look to an outfit. I routinely have to take a step back and revaluate during a shoot and make necessary changes.


For model Jennifer Martin (who in real life directs Shop Local Raleigh), we centered the visual story around a black yoga pant. Jennifer modeled three looks with the same pant. For a sporty look, I paired the pant with active wear and sneakers; for a casual look, I went with a cotton striped tee, jean jacket and wedge sandal; and to glam the outfit up more fully, I chose a dress top with hardware and an unconstructed mint blazer.

I always pull accessories and shoes last. And many times, they’re from my own closet. I used a number of my own items for this shoot, too, including my grandmother’s brooch and signature orange scarf, necklaces and earrings made by my friend Christine Jones, and a brightly colored block handbag.


It’s up to the photographer to draw the models out, especially when they have no formal training. I jump in too to help my models more comfortable and relaxed. Yes, I have been known to break out in a dance or shuffle to do just that, and yes, this photo shoot was no different. Despite my years of experience, and all my preparations, the shoot was hectic. It goes with the territory! The key is to keep everyone on task so the models can roll from one outfit to the next, even while having their hair style and makeup retouched for each outfit.

After the Shoot

The shoot took more than 10 hours. I was happily exhausted and pleased. But even when the shoot was over, my job was not. I needed to pack up the clothes, accessories and shoes and return them to their various owners and closets. Finally, I reviewed the gallery of photos from the shoot, and chose the best of the best for the Style section. Stay tuned!


So how was the experience for my first group of models? Here’s some of the feedback I got after the shoot:

“You took one look at me and knew right away what I would look good in,” Naburuna Karmaker told me. “I am very pleased with the styling and make up. And the photo shoot was a blast!”

Jean Stacks warmed my heart with her feedback, too. “You really are talented, Suzanne!” she said. “Your energetic and fun-loving personality made the shoot such an enjoyable experience.”

Special thanks to all the models Jean Stacks, Jennifer Martin, Naburuna Karmaker, Tricia Sabine, and Christine Johnson for sharing your time and looking fabulous! A special hug to Michelle Tabbert for hair styling, Caroline Winchester for makeup and photographer Ellen Schaffer for your skills and joy to work with.

From my closet to yours,


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