Photography tips with Jessica Luostarinen


If you want to showcase your T-shirt design, or even use your campaign as a platform to start your own clothing line, then a DIY photo shoot is a great way to carve out your visual identity. We’ve delved into what makes for great photos with Aiste Stancikaite, but a photoshoot, especially if you’re not taking the photos yourself, can involve a different set of moving parts. To that end, we turned to artist and model Jessica Luostarinen, who ran one of our favourite recent T-shirt photo shoot to promote her FASTLANE T-shirts.

For us, she killed it because:

  • Her photos had a really strong theme, we quickly got a sense of what her campaign was about
    She was resourceful.
  • She got creative with the setting and sourced a great photographer to run a free shoot that could have been an editorial.

Here are her takeaways for a successful shoot.

Invite people into your creative world

First things first, why bother running your own photo shoot when you can just use digital mockups? Well, as well as being a great way to exhibit your product in the flesh, a photo shoot also lets you expand on your campaign and story. “Creating an original photo shoot shows your personality and identity, you are basically selling a lifestyle,” says Jessica, “through visual references it is easier to engage with people and invite them into your “creative world”.

jessica_everpress_tshirt_photography copy
Photography by Lars Brønseth

Start With A Mood Board and Storyline

Building a mood board and storyline around her design is an integral part of Jessica’s process, as she sees it, “it helps you to navigate your creative thoughts and find ideas for the shoot.” This doesn’t need to be a polished, finished thing. You can use other shoots that you’ve loved, posts you’ve faved on Instagram, your own photos, locations you find interesting, whatever works for you – all you want is a visual frame of reference for your shoot.

Take Your Visual Cues From Your Design

Jessica’s FASTLANE T-shirts were a homage to racing culture and its leather outfits (inspired in part by her racing car driver dad), so her go-kart centre setting came pretty naturally. Your design might not lend itself to quite as obvious a theme, but you can still use it to inform your photo shoot. “Using your design as the inspiration for your photo shoot will help create images that show what your T-shirt is about,” says Jessica, “think about the mood, colours, the lines, the vibe of your design, and use those elements into your photo shoot.”

Photography by Lars Brønseth

Collaborating with a photographer is easier than you might think

Remember that your photo shoot is also a great way for a photographer to build upon their own work, think of it as an addition to their portfolio too. Jessica recommends keeping your eye out for photographers with a similar aesthetic to you who’ll be a natural fit for your work. You can start by reaching out to people in your own network, or you’d be surprised how effective other social media can be. One of Jessica’s top places to source photographers is Instagram, and, as she tells us, this is when a mood board comes in really handy, “When contacting photographers, you should introduce your creative idea and make it intriguing and interesting for them, add mood boards to show what your shoot is about.”

Photo shoots don’t have to need big budgets

Another benefit to collaborating with like-minded people is that it’s one of the best ways to keep your costs down. As Jessica has found, “if you find people who share the same creative eye as you to help you, then they will get the same benefit out of the shoot and will happily be part of your project.” Rather than trying to hire costly people or shoot in flashy sets focus on working with your peers, who’ll get as much out of it as you. Equally, though Jessica was happy to model her tee herself, if you’d prefer not to be in front of the camera then get your friends involved.

Photography by Lars Brønseth. T-shirt design by Jessica Luostarinen.

Even your local can be a great place for a shoot

Sourcing locations doesn’t need to be a costly mission either. Jessica doesn’t stray far from home when she’s looking for inspiration, “I often go for long walks around my neighbourhood in Hackney to find cool location ideas and to save them in my phone,” she tells us. “When it comes to photo shoot locations, just go find cool spots on the streets, cafes and pubs or whatever public places you find inspiring and you can always plan your shoot around these places.”

Keep your Design Centre Stage

So you’ve got your concept, photographer and setting all sorted and you’re ready to go. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re shooting, but don’t forget that the point of the photo shoot is to showcase your design. Think of the setting and other clothes involved as the support act, as Jessica says, “it’s good to create cool styling around your design, showing a bit of your own personal style also, but don’t let it overshadow your design.” Above all, “keep in mind that the design looks good in the shot, and that it’s the focus of attention.”

And above all… “Just have fun and let your spontaneity take over, fun good vibes are the ones that sell!”

Looking for more tips on how to promote your T-shirt designs to your community? Check out our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter promo guides.