Best dresses to start a collection. By Maggie Robinson
Hi, I’m Maggie Robinson and I am the photographer behind Dinky Feet. My favourite thing in the world is providing beautiful, hand finished wall art for your home.
Second favourite thing are churros.
I am passionate about clean, simple and timeless newborn photography, that you will be able to cherish for years to come. I absolutely love black and white but I also do like to occasionally mix it up a little and throw in a burst of unexpected colour. Ok. Maybe a lot of colour.
Originally from Poland, I was always the happy snapper using any excuse to pick up a camera. For years it was mostly the great outdoors of Spain, France and USA, but a few years ago I decided to focus on one of the most amazing subjects of all: babies.
I get this question a lot: "I would love to get some Mii Estilo dresses, where do I start?"
There is such a variety of options and vast amount of colours. Choosing the right dresses to start off your collection can be an overwhelming task! Trust me, I have been there and spent hours mulling over the pros and cons of big tulle versus floaty ones; vivid colours versus subdued and neutrals. Here's some pointers I put together to help you decide on your next shopping step!
1. Your style Are you more of a natural, all-about-the-client photographer? Do you like minimalistic and clean images? Does colour gives you a headache? Great! The choices you are facing are narrow, so it's easier from the start. We can look at body fitting dresses, hugging, hourglass jersey options and anything not too out there. You would potentially skip tule and lace, and focus on a smooth finish. We would be looking at dresses focusing on the curves, and the body in itself. The dress here would compliment the image, but it would not take the focus away from out model. Another great option here are the silk scarves in white, grey, and all the earthy colours. They offer a plethora of creative options, which come in many different lengths and fabrics.
2. Your storage size I started my collection whilst still working in a very small studio. When I say small I mean your living room probably looks like a football pitch in comparison to the space I had at my disposal. We all start somewhere and I loved it when I got the keys to the space but I never quite considered how much storage space I would need as the gown collection starts growing. Granted, I could pack the dresses in air tight vacuum bags and probably fit them all in a shoe box, but I am not that organised. My first dresses were the biggest, tule, mommy and me sets and they required some space. I packed them in bags and labeled the bags with colourful stickers, to know which bag represents which colour. Ingrid would most likely have a heart attack if she was to see that storage back in the day. Sorry girl. Need was a must and my gorgeous dresses suffered in the process. Tip for you: if you have an affinity for mahoosive, fluffy gowns, you will need a decent storage.
3. Floating dresses Floating dresses come to life with a bit of fan action and someone to throw the dresses in the air, creating a beautiful flow of fabric, whether it's silk or satin, reflecting the light or beautifully matt jersey. I was afraid of getting the long, floaty trains because I didn't know how many options those gave us. Sticking to what I knew sounded like a plan. Then one day, one of my best friends and an amazing maternity photographer Natasha Ince encouraged me to try and to get a floaty dress. I bit the bullet and bought the Alant dress. It was a game changer. For the majority of sessions you will have mum's partner present at the shoot, or even a part of the shoot. If you are using a make up artist or an assistant, that's another pair of hands to help you throw the dresses in the air. Where there's a will, there's a way. You can even use a fan and a stand, and tie the floating part of the dress to the stand and add the wave in photoshop. There are plenty of options. Get one and experiment!
4. Photoshop ready - Vibrant colours Those who follow my work know that I LOVE colour. Where others cringe looking at fluorescent fuchsia, I get excited. Unexpected colour combinations will set you apart from the competition. Your work will stand our and make your brand memorable. In the world of similar images, being original is tough but using a wide range of colours will make that easier for you. In addition, every client is different and by offering a wider range of colours in your studio wardrobe, you will gain a competitive edge, too! When getting your first colourful items, think about how easy it will be to change this colour further in photoshop. Black will be black, white can be pastel. Reds, navy, violets, greens can be a wast array of hues and colours. They are easier to convert and you can get a lot of looks from one garment.
5. Family collections + Mommy & me sessions Family sessions are by far my favourite. I often get asked how come my clients are always so well dressed and do I tell them what to wear. I make it easier for everyone and dress them! My first family dress set was a trio of tule bordeaux. I decided on the deep red and tule for a very peculiar reason. Red goes with most colours of dad's trousers and jeans. Casual in jeans? Perfect. Navy trousers? Perfect. And tule? For dad's who came in wearing trainers (I am not a big fan, and usually ask clients to take them off, but it's totally a personal preference and an extension of your style and your clients' requirements). What do you do with trainers? You pop mum in front of dad and spread the dress wide enough to hide dad's shoes or their bare feet!
Family collections take time to build up, but they are so worth it. It gives you the ability to offer something for larger groups and to make mums feel and look amazing.
In every family you will always find a lady who is not 100% happy with her weight, so getting dresses in darker colours will make them feel more comfortable and more confident so that would be something I would consider when starting my family collection.
My favourite size for family sets are usually M (if it's jersey as jersey is extremely stretchy) or L for things like sleeveless bandeau like tops as those are very easy to pin at the back and adjust. They would be the type I would recommend as your first purchase as you will be covered for a plethora of body sizes just by skipping the sleeves in your dress.
Once you get a few dresses like that, get a few sizes with the sleeves in L, as there are always going to be ladies who are more comfortable covering their arms.
6. Nude? Try scarves! There is something magical about the pure form of a female body, but not every lady will be confident barring it all. For moments like that, there are scarves. Tule, silk, they created different feel but keep the focus on the image. They are the fastest fix in any maternity closet, and bonus: they are the most affordable item you can get to glam up your maternity wardrobe, too!
When starting out, I found white was the go-to colour as it looked great when backlit and in any other setting. It added that angelic feel to the image, and it's a unisex colour, too. As the collection grew, I started using subtle hints at baby's sex, photographing mums expecting little girls with pink scarves etc.
7. Black and white - add texture. Do you love shooting monochrome images? With the loss of colour, all we have left is the light and the texture. Dramatic lighting works wonders for black and white images, but where could we get some texture from? Lace dresses give us amazing texture in black and white images, and they make colour images even more stunning. Lace hides rolls much better than smooth fabrics and makes editing faster.
My go to lace dress was and still is Spirea. It's classic, body hugging and elegant. Easy to photograph without the need for an assistant or dad helping you out. The very first Spirea I bought was in a baby blue colour. My model's partner has booked the shoot for his wife as a surprise and he wanted to do a joint sex reveal by having mum open the box with the baby blue dress in. I thought it was a great idea, and also: I didn't have any baby blue dresses in stock! Over the years I didn't end up using that colour too much, but I bough a dusty pink Spirea, too, and absolutely love it. It doubles as a maternity gown and a great, not too over the top dress for Mommy and Me sessions.
8. Fun! Patterns. Where do you go from here? When you have all the colours you ever wanted, but it's still not enough? Limited collections with beautiful, unique patterns. They add a different dimension to your photoshoots. When I pull a floral dress out, mums always gasp as never in a million years would they expect me to have those kind of dresses. They are bold style statements, but you are guaranteed to stand out from any competition with those beautiful pieces.
Have fun with your photos! They are timeless mementos of this amazing, scary, fascinating time in woman's life. They will help you make mums feel like princesses and queens. They will elevate your offering and add an edge to your portfolio, and this in turn brings you more clients and more profit.