A photo stylist is one of the most important jobs on a modeling shoot. This is the person who is responsible for putting together pieces of apparel to create the right messaging. There are a few things every photo stylist should know before they accept a job in this profession.
General Photographic Knowledge
It’s not enough to just show up with the clothes. After the model is dressed there is still work to be done. All of your hard work styling that devastatingly beautiful ensemble will go to waste if you have no knowledge of general photography.
Yes, there will, of course, be a photographer present, and he or she will have assistants. You won’t have to handle photography equipment but you should have a basic understanding of what the pieces are and how they work.
Buy a “Photography for Dummies” book for a broad strokes tutorial. You will learn about lighting, angles and composition. All of these elements may influence your styling choices.
For example, certain colors and patterns look better in certain lighting. If you know a garment is going to be shot from a particle angle, you can better anticipate if it needs to be adjusted. Knowing what types of lenses will be used, and the distance of the shot is important when choosing fabrics.
Overall, it is just good sense to know the vocabulary of your profession. When someone says, “We need a soft box and we’re switching out the 600mm,” you won’t feel lost. It’s always better to know more than you think you need to know. Just in case!
Nips & Tucks
One of the most difficult parts of being a photo stylist is creating a smooth look. When we dress ourselves, even for a fancy event, we are not always aware of how the fabric lays on our bodies. On a modeling shoot you must be hyper aware.
The camera will exaggerate every flaw in the apparel and how it fits on the model. You are the person responsible for making sure the clothing looks perfect. You’re creating an idealized portrayal of this look, nothing can be out of place.
Keep on hand a supply of safety pins, scissors, binder clips, paper clips, rubber bands, and a hand steamer. These can be used to modify the clothing if necessary. The steamer will get our pesky wrinkles. The safety pins can be used to shorten hems, and scissors are necessary for clipping any straggling thread.
Binder clips, paper clips and rubber bands can make any piece of clothing fit properly. As long as the camera doesn’t capture the nip and tuck implements, you can use as many as you like.
Pull fabric back and away from the body. Hold it in place with a binder clip. This will stretch out wrinkles and make the outfit look like it is the perfect size for your model.
Depending upon the size of the shoot, there could be anywhere from three to fifty people; sometimes more. Everyone will be busy with his or her own tasks but you will need to interact effectively with everyone. It’s a good idea to bone up on your people skills.
Listen to the photographer or director, be respectful and accommodating to his or her equipment assistants, and treat the models with care. Stay out of the way when your co-workers are moving lights, cords and cameras.
It may seem obvious but a photo stylist should never stand between the camera and the person being photographed. If you need to enter “the shot” to adjust a portion of the outfit, ask permission. Make the adjustment quickly and get out of the way.
Good luck on your first day!