At times stylists are disregarded or even looked down upon because “they just pick out clothes,” but I can assure you that is the furthest thing from the truth. Stylists do much more than just ‘pick out’ clothing. They have significant roles in making a successful campaign come together and work to help facilitate the relationship with photographers and their models.
Stylists work in various capacities on editorial shoots, commercial/ad campaigns, fashion shows, events, personal styling, and/or many other types of niche jobs. Of course, the main job for the stylist is to select clothing and actually take care of the styling, but what else do stylists really take care of?
In this article, you will learn some of the various tasks and duties of a stylist and how they operate. Continue reading to learn more.
Another role of the stylist is to advise the rest of the creative team, including the photographer.
The stylist (or art director for large, commercial shoots) is the one that prepares the setting of the scene so if something doesn’t look right, the stylist needs to speak up and rearrange whatever it is that doesn’t fit. It is their job to advise the photographer, model, and anyone else on a project so that everything is able to come together and look perfect.
When it comes to photographing a styled shoot, the photographer is the one capturing the scene and the subject. It is the stylist’s job to ensure the photographer has a beautiful, well put together scene. That means that they need to assist in posing the model(s) precisely how they’d like, along with placing all the background details where they would prefer.
Apart from setting the scene and mood, the stylist also has to make sure they can get the clothing for the shoot. Weeks, if not months, prior to the shoot, the stylist is responsible for seeking out the clothing that will be used in the shoot. Seems easy, right? Not so much.
If you are shooting for smaller brands or start-up companies, this may be much simpler, but if you are shooting for high-end fashion companies and other well-renowned businesses, you will need to be able to negotiate and hustle for some clothing if you want it in your shoot. Granted many high end jobs will work the clothes into their budget. You may also be able to buy them or if you are working with specific designers/brands they will provide the clothes. There are many possibilities when it comes to sourcing; however, the stylist is responsible for making sure the clothes are styled perfectly on the subject.
(Styled by Julian Ganio, Photo by Thomas Lohr. Shot in Hermes Clothing)
Sourcing clothes can be one of the hardest parts of styling. You have a lot of different options when trying to source clothing and no matter what method they use to obtain the clothes for the shoot/event they keep one goal in mind – get the clothes. If there are no clothes provide by the company for the stylist they have the option to reach out to a specific fashion house or brand and ask them to borrow the clothing or the stylist will visit the company’s showroom and select the items they would like to use for their shoot. Another alternative when working with personal clients or celebrities would be to shop with the client or use clothing that the client already owns and style it for them. Regardless, this can be tricky and time consuming, but for an experienced stylist, this is where you will thrive.
Once the stylist been approved to use a fashion house or brand’s clothing, they will need to select the specific clothes for the shoot. Are they looking for dark, eerie clothing or vibrant, colorful clothing? Many times stylists will use mood boards or creative direction boards to help them hold their ideas together and give direction to the shoot.
Using these ideas, the stylist will use their creativity and imagination to piece together perfectly planned outfits with model, location, and setting in mind.
From a consumer standpoint, this may sound like the most “fun” step because the stylist is more or less picking out clothes, but this one of the most challenging parts of being a stylist. If you choose the wrong items, the shoot will not come together all the way, or if you pick items that aren’t matching, you will have an unorganized final shoot.
However, on the other hand, this is where you can shine. If you pick out the perfect outfit with bold, wild colors and it matches the scene perfectly so that everything is complementary, you could make a name for yourself and begin getting recognized for your unique and illustrious styles.
Connect & Consult
Another job of the stylist is to connect and pull all of the creative ideas together for a photo shoot. At times there may be a few people all bouncing ideas off of each other, the stylist is there to talk with the others about these ideas and bring them to life. Of course, the photographer is taking this scene and capturing it in an image, but the stylist needs to make sure everyone’s ideas, especially theirs are portrayed in the setting.
Connecting and consulting can be on any of the ideas pertaining to the styling as well. Whether it be the actual clothing, the scene, or something else. If the stylist is using clothes from a specific designer for a show, rather than a shoot, it is their job to let them know any changes or substitutions they might like. For instance, a stylist might want a 3/4 pant that may look better with a specific scene than a full length pant would.
In the world of fashion, it isn’t always easy to keep up, but for a stylist, this is a big key! Having an outdated fashion sense will do nothing but hold you back as a stylist. Especially for commercial styling where you are showing your styles to a large audience, you want to show the latest and most intricate fabrics, styles, and designs.
Having this up to date knowledge on trends will also keep you ahead of the rest giving you a unique and creative advantage. Many stylists will speak at conferences and write on blogs/websites about style trends in order to stay up to date as well as keep others informed. This dynamic way of learning while teaching is important if you want to be an influential stylist. Be sure to keep up with the times, especially these days where fashion moves faster than ever.
Check out these additional articles we found to help you learn more about styling and planning a photo shoot: