From Behind The Scenes to Infront of the Camera: Why you should step out of your comfort zone

Image by Darren Black:

As a fashion creative and Fashion Communication graduate, I’ve attended my fair share of photoshoots. From being assistant to photographer Darren Black on a guest visit to my university to creative directing and styling a sport-luxe shoot to feature in John Lewis, Sheffield, at a collaborative event and in a published lookbook. I’m pretty comfortable behind the camera, guiding models, pulling looks together, tweaking, and altering sets for the perfect picture. I’ve even had my hand at shooting photos myself, although due to the often specialist skills required, I usually leave this to those with the appropriate experience.

Fashion photography is just as much a form of storytelling as any other. Fashion is storytelling through clothes. Photography is storytelling through an image. When married together, something truly magical happens and we have the ability to be transported into a new experience. This is part of the foundation to where my passion for fashion communication originated. Even as a kid I would mess around with friends doing photoshoots in the back garden using household props to tell a story.

Then, in early 2021, I was invited by my friends at Manchester Fashion Movement to take part in a visual Fashion Story. This occasion took place in NorthstarNQ - a colourful, Bauhaus-inspired Northern Quarter building, recently transformed by interior design studio Shelia Bird. The day was also a showcase of local talent, with many of the garments and accessories we were working with from local designers and independent brands that are proud of their sustainable craft. The purpose of this curated fashion story was to celebrate collaboration over competition.

The Fashion Story, shot by photographer Madeleine Penfold, was striving to capture the move towards a more inclusive society in which shopping ethically and supporting small businesses prevail. A whole calibre of creatives and sustainable fashion advocates, myself included, were invited to be part of the occasion. But this time, I would be stepping in front of the camera.

When it was my turn to be called up for my first look of the day, it’s safe to say I was nervous. I’d seen this happen many times before yet this time, all eyes were on me. I was incredibly uncomfortable at first, doubting my ability to deliver any quality pictures. Posing felt incredibly unnatural and awkward. But a few shots in and with some additional encouragement from the team, especially the photographer, I soon relaxed and began to find a rhythm.

By the end of the day I had successfully shot 3 different looks, with countless different backdrops, with most of the shots involving other models. Whilst having other models beside me likely helped me come out of my shell, by the end of the day, I was on cloud 9 and felt every bit confident and excited throughout the final group shot of the day.

This is the power in diversifying your skills and knowledge. Of course, I’m no modelling expert, but having been in the shoes of a model, I will now have a better understanding of how to support models on set. If I’m working with a model who is new to the industry, I will be better equipped with the comfort and support they may need to hear. I better understand angles and the way the clothes sat on my body having had to consider them with each pose. I’ll better know how to give direction and clear instructions.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, it never hurts to give something a go. Even if you have no long-term intention of sticking at something, life is too short not to take up exciting opportunities that come your way or to try your hand at something you’ve always been curious about. I won’t be pursuing a career in modelling but I have a newfound appreciation for it and I am so glad I pushed myself to try something new because it has certainly enhanced me in other areas of my creative fashion work.

"Never be afraid to try something new because life gets boring when you stay within the limits of what you already know." - Author unknown.

If you want to hear more from Annabel, Mindless Mag Creative Lead, reach out at Want to write with us? Get in touch at

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