Photographic stylists use clothes, props and accessories to dress sets and create the right ‘look’ and mood for a photo shoot.
Salary range: Variable
How to become a photographic stylist
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
You could take a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in a relevant subject like:
- fashion promotion
- fashion styling
- interior styling and design
- visual merchandising or display
Most photographic stylists come from a fashion, photography or design background. As a food stylist your background would usually be in catering or home economics.
You’ll usually need:
- 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job, like a Level 3 Certificate or Diploma in Photography.
You’ll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You can get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship in photo imaging.
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
Volunteering and experience
You should try and get as much work experience as possible. It’ll help you to make contacts in the industry and allow you to learn on the job.
You could approach photographers and stylists and offer to help them, or contact magazines and newspapers about possible work placements.
The British Institute of Professional Photography has a useful contacts section.
Work experience in fashion retail, visual design or interior design can be useful.
You’ll need a portfolio with examples of your styling work to show to potential employers. These are known as ‘tear sheets’ and include photos or published magazine pages.
Professional and industry bodies
You can join the British Institute of Professional Photography for professional development.
You’ll find more details about working in the photographic industry from the British Institute of Professional Photography.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- the ability to work well with others
- sensitivity and understanding
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- knowledge of the fine arts
- excellent verbal communication skills
- design skills and knowledge
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
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
You could work in a creative studio, from home or in an office.
Your working environment may be at height and you’ll travel often.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could work with bigger advertising and PR agencies, stores and design houses.