15 March 2019

Why Photoshoots Have Been so Important in Lolita Fashion

The end results of lolita photoshoots are everywhere from catalogs and Japanese mooks, to social media and private mobile phone galleries. Closet of Frills gets a dozen new outfit posts every day, and there are over 665,000 #lolitafashion posts on Instagram at the time of writing this.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a lolita who doesn't take any photos of their coordinates in any capacity, even so much as to cherish them privately on their phone or keep track of their wardrobe collection on their personal computer. Every lolita meetup, from grandiose afternoon tea parties to smaller casual picnics, has at least an unofficial time when attendees take photos of their outfits and selfies with their friends.

And if you dig deeper, if you pause and really look at what's going on in your local community and maybe in your own behavior, you'll probably observe that lolitas really like photoshoots. Not to say everyone jumps at the chance to be a supermodel for half an hour, especially since I personally know several lolitas who are very private people and are pretty camera shy. But as a whole, photoshoots have been a big thing in lolita fashion for a long time.

Why is that? I have a few theories...

Lolita fashion is a visually artistic hobby

Unlike hobbies that appealing to other senses - such as baking, gardening, or playing an instrument - fashion is something that is intended to be seen.

Some people see their pieces as part of a collection, others see it as just another section in their wardrobe, but no matter how personally you define lolita it is an art form to put together an outfit. That's why we call outfits "coordinates", right? We coordinate different clothing pieces together into something that matches, melds, and looks visually beautiful. Lolita fashion is more intentional than throwing on an outfit of t-shirt and jeans that doesn't really spark any kind of creativity.

One of my best friends said once how she always takes time to get a bunch of photos of her coords, even though she doesn't post them all on Instagram. She sees her coordinates as art, as something ephemerally beautiful that she wants to be able to look back and remember.

Photo Credit to Brian Tokuyoshi

We want to share with others what we love

Building on the idea that creating a lolita coordinate is artistic, I believe photoshoots are a way to document your masterpiece to be able to share it with others.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you did arts and crafts in school? You came home and ran to your parents to show them your creation with a giant grin on your face. (Or something like that.) When we create something we're proud of. we want to share it with the world to get validation, praise, recognition, and all the other responses that send happy chemical signals to our brains.

Having a photoshoot enables us to show off. We had an grand vision in our heads about looking like a space princess, a fairy queen, or whatever creative idea that sparked your outfit. Maybe we spent hours hand-crafting an accessory or prop (or want to showcase an indie designer who did the same). Photoshoots let us showcase those details that mean a lot to us and that express who we are.

Not to mention some people aspire to be a lolita model, and having a photoshoot - even in the park with a "friendtographer" - lets you feel that!

We live in an age of "likes"

Not only do many lolitas dream of modeling for a big brand like Angelic Pretty or Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, but they want to be e-famous. I don't judge people who want internet fame (unless that notoriety is because someone intentionally stirrs drama and hurts people along their way) because we live in an age of external validation from the internet.

I majored in Global Studies in university, and it is definitely not an isolated trend to obsess over social media followings and "likes." Our culture and our young generations are caught up in the psychological trap of needing strangers on the internet to fawn over them or else they don't feel good about themselves.

This is where having lolita photoshoots comes in - to take better quality and more aesthetically pleasing photos that might get more "likes" on Instagram. Photos with bad lighting, blurry and grainy focus, bland posing, and background clutter (calling myself out here on my own newbie-lolita messy bedroom mirror shots...) just aren't as popular on social media.

I am in no way saying that everyone who takes part in lolita photoshoots do it for fame, but it is a very probable motivation for some.

It's how we discovered lolita

In the end, I think we like taking dozens of photos of our outfits because that's just how this fashion has been. From the early street snaps of mysterious Japanese girls who we all admired and wished we could dress like, outfit photos and fantastical photoshoots have been a tradition in our fashion subculture.

To loosely quote an old Deer Stalkers video: we do it because we like it, we do it because we can!

Photo Credit Ira Tilak

Thank you for reading my thought garbage, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject!

Also, please check out the other participants in this week's theme.

Other blogs who participated:
Cupcake Kamisama

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  1. Yessss I agree with everything about this post, and I think it applies to other jfashion styles too because you're right - fashion is an art and something we're very proud of! I wouldn't have known about lolita if it wasn't for people posting on EGL, which would then lead me down to the path of gyaru, so I'm forever thankful that people do post their outfits.

    Lizzie // Hello Lizzie Bee

  2. You are so right!
    Lolita fashions truly are beautiful artistry! I love the ultra-feminine beauty of the individual outfit pieces and the gorgeous appearances of the finished looks captured in photos and in videos.


  3. Absolutely! You were so right about everything. Ever since finding my first GLB I've been absolutely in love with the aesthetic beauty of the style, and the artistry involved in crafting just the right coord. Personally I'm planning an Edgar Allan Poe-style Lolita photoshoot so I can use one for my author photo! lol!

  4. So I need a photographer, and a lot of lolita dresses.

  5. To be honest, I have never thought about this, but now I must agree with you. I also have one question - what do you think about girls, that put something over their face, so you can´t see their face and make-up?
    (No offense, I just wondered what do think someone more skilled in lolita.)
    Thanks for any response (⌒▽⌒)☆.

    1. Some may do so because they don't feel comfortable showing their face on the internet?

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