Stylist spotlight: Pernilla Lofberg
We talk product photography with freelance stylist - and host of our new tutorials - Pernilla Lofberg
There’s more to being a fashion stylist than just having a good eye for composing and styling a shot. It’s important to have a good grasp of industry trends, along with the ability to predict them - sometimes several seasons in advance. In our latest stylist spotlight, we spoke to Pernilla Lofberg - star of our latest series of fashion styling tutorials - to give us some insight on what it’s like being a freelance stylist, how she got into the field in the first place, what inspires her creative process, as well as exploring what fashion trends are in store this year.
Hi Pernilla, thanks for talking to us today. Let’s start with something simple: you’re a freelance stylist these days, how did you get into fashion styling in the first place?
When I was back in Sweden I designed a clothing collection for my final major project during my last year of college – at that point I already knew I wanted to work in fashion. To realise this, I moved to London to study a BA Hons degree in Fashion Merchandising at University of Westminster.
Next I did an exchange semester via the University of Westminster at the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I started an internship with a freelance stylist by the name of James Worthington DeMolet in New York. It was there I realised I wanted to pursue a career as a fashion stylist.
When I came back to London I interned with Beth Fenton while still finishing my degree. Then, through a contact I got an internship with Stylesight - a trend forecasting company.
When I graduated from University I got my first job right away: Product Stylist at Net-a-Porter. And after just 8 months at Net-a-Porter, Stylesight offered me a job as a London Fashion and Trend Correspondent.
"For Fashion Spring/Summer '17 there’s a clear 80’s revival going on. That means wide shoulders on modern and minimalistic tailoring. Velvet. Puffball sleeves. Gold lamé."
What did your role as fashion trend correspondent at Stylesight entail?
As Stylesight’s London Fashion/Trend Correspondent I was responsible for research, trend analysis, retail photography, street style spotting and feature writing. I gathered this information by looking at the trends in shops, what people were wearing on the streets, attending press previews, fashion weeks and trade shows. I then used all of this research to produce a comprehensive monthly trend analysis.
I was working for Stylesight for more than 4 years and then decided to go freelance. Now I primarily freelance as a fashion and still life stylist, but also still occasionally work on trend analysis projects.
And what’s the most important piece of advice you’d have for someone who wants to get into fashion styling?
Internships. You get the invaluable experience of seeing what the job involves and pick up practical tips that really improve on your foundation of skills. Also, you build up a very important network of contacts.
Let’s talk about your creative process. What inspires you about styling? And where do you look for inspiration?
I do a lot of visual research for upcoming photo shoots. This can be anything from visiting art exhibitions to online research or looking through older editorials. Mainly, I get inspired by objects, shapes, and colours.
To supplement this, I also attend fashion weeks and press previews to keep up-to-date on the latest developments.
Earlier you mentioned you worked as a trend researcher and forecaster - how would you say that’s helped your styling career?
Immensely in keeping up with the ever-evolving trends and always thinking one step ahead is key for the job. Getting good at the research element has also helped a lot when I prepare for upcoming photo shoots and I am looking for inspiration.
For me, styling and trend research and analysis work together. I wouldn’t be able to produce an inspiring styling shoot if I didn’t do my research and wasn't aware of the new trends.
"For me, styling and trend research and analysis work together. I wouldn’t be able to produce an inspiring styling shoot if I didn’t do my research and wasn't aware of the new trends."
And as an expert in fashion trends, what trends do you think are some big upcoming ones? Whether it's just in fashion photography or the industry as a whole?
For Fashion Spring/Summer '17 there’s a clear 80’s revival going on. That means wide shoulders on modern and minimalistic tailoring. Velvet. Puffball sleeves. Gold lamé.
Pink is back - in shades from dusty pink to vibrant fuchsia.
Sleeves are still in focus (last year it was flared sleeves). For S/S17 slit sleeves, open shoulders and elongated sleeves are in.
And back to your day-job, what makes being a stylist the right career choice for you?
I love my job as a stylist. It’s very creative and I enjoy being part of the creative process with like-minded people - anyone involved from photographers to set designers etc - and to work together with these people to produce something that's beautiful and progressive.
"I believe products look better if they are not over-styled but maintain their natural shape and silhouette."
Now to the juicy stuff - what do you think makes a great fashion product photo?
A well prepped product - that means steamed, polished, brushed etc - symmetry and a more natural feel with movement in the image. I believe products look better if they are not over-styled but maintain their natural shape and silhouette.
Lastly, working with the light to ensure the product is lit in the best possible way to give the garment texture and feel.
Could you give us the top three tips you’d share when it comes to actually styling clothes?
Always spend time prepping the product, whether it’s steaming it, polishing hardware or using air spray to remove dust particles when it comes to leather goods for example. This will always ensure you achieve a great looking product.
Try and make sure the clothes look as natural as possible. Tuck under the sides of tops and place the sleeves closer to the body to give it a more realistic look, and don’t over stretch garments, but retain a bit of neat, subtle movement.
Lastly, check the symmetry of the product and make sure the sleeves, hemline and neckline are lined up nicely.
You’ve worked across editorial style campaigns as well as commercial product photography? Do you have a preference? What are the main qualities and skills that are required for each?
I enjoy all aspects of my styling job. I like the mixture of styling ready-to-wear editorials and still life product shoots.
The skill-set is quite different when working with models compared to with products. On a ready-to-wear model shoot you need to be able to put together a progressive look and work closely with the photographer, model and hair and make up artists to get the right attitude, movement and poses to fit the concept.
Commercial product photography is mostly about presenting the product in a accurate and true way to the customer, whereas with a creative still life shoot your styling can be more conceptual.
You’ve only used StyleShoots machines briefly - and yet you’re the star of our new tutorial series - how easy was it to get to grips with using them?
They are extremely easy to work with. The iPad [interface] is very straight forward and all the settings are easy to find and use to get the right shot.
And what would you say was your favourite thing about using them?
The live preview. It’s such a great tool to have that enables you to see what your styling looks like right away.
I think that covers most of it for now, thanks again for speaking to us, we hope your expertise will be of great use to budding stylists and photographers in our new tutorial series.
Pernilla Lofberg is a freelance fashion stylist who has several years of experience working across editorial and commercial fashion photography for many of the world's biggest brands and retailers. She is also the host of our newest season of fashion product photography and styling tutorials. The first batch of videos are expected to go live Q1 2017.
Visit her personal website at www.pernillalofberg.com