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Photographic stylist

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Photographic stylists use clothes, props and accessories to dress sets and create the right ‘look’ and mood for a photo shoot.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need experience in fashion, photography or design. As a food stylist you’ll need experience in catering or home economics.

It may help to have a foundation degree, HNC, HND or degree in:

  • fashion promotion
  • fashion styling
  • fashion journalism
  • interior or exhibition design
  • visual merchandising or display photography

Paid or unpaid work experience would also be helpful. You could get this through:

  • assisting photographers and stylists
  • work placements on magazines or newspapers
  • working in fashion retail, visual design or interior design

You’ll need a portfolio with examples of your styling work, known as ‘tear sheets’, to show to potential employers.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • creativity and a good eye for shape and colour
  • excellent attention to detail
  • the ability to remain calm under pressure
  • an organised and practical approach 

3. What you'll do

You'll usually specialise in one area, like fashion, interiors, food, advertising or editorial photography.

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • receiving instructions (the ‘brief’) from the photographer or art director and coming up with ideas
  • deciding on the best clothes, accessories and backgrounds to achieve the desired look
  • buying, borrowing or hiring props, clothing and accessories
  • arranging a set
  • dressing models and making any adjustments
  • keeping a stock of fashion or home accessories
  • building good relationships with shops, prop suppliers, PR agencies, photographers and models
  • keeping up to date with trends

 As a fashion stylist, you’ll work on fashion shows, music videos and TV shows as well as doing photographic work.

In food styling, you’ll buy ingredients, cook the food, and display it in an appetising way.

4. Salary

You’ll usually work freelance, so your income will vary depending on the job and your experience.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll need to be flexible about your working hours. Days are often long and deadlines can be tight. Models, props and locations may only be available for a limited time.

You’ll be home or office based, but much of your work will take place in photographic studios. 

You may also need to work on location, depending on the type of shoot. You’ll spend a lot of time travelling in the UK or overseas.

The work can involve climbing ladders, lifting, carrying and using glue, paint and hand tools.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could work with bigger advertising and PR agencies, stores and design houses. 

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Last updated: 13 September 2018