Truth: Anyone can pick out clothes and put together an outfit. Everyone does it every day unless you live in a nudist colony.
- Can everyone style a beautiful up-do for a wedding shoot? No.
- Can everyone apply makeup for an editorial campaign? No.
- Can everyone pick up a camera and snap magazine worthy photos? No.
- Can everyone stand in front of a camera and look amazing? DEFINITELY no.
Being a self-employed stylist, I'm continually having to create demand and value for my profession and services. Styling is definitely seen as a luxury more so than hair or makeup artistry because of the simple fact that every person has personal style and dresses themselves daily. But if you decide that you want to bring a wardrobe expert to the table when doing a creative photo shoot, WHICH I HIGHLY recommend obviously, here are some tips:
1. Give them inspiration and a direction for the project, and then just let them run with it. Don't ask to go to the store with them. Don't ask to check their work. Think about if the wardrobe stylist said that to you? "Can I check your photos before you move onto the next look?" OUCH! There has to be mutual trust.
2. Model selection is KEY for a shoot. It's the face of your work. If you can, let the stylist have an opinion on who the subject is, especially if it's a pro-bono project. Clothes fit differently on different body shapes, so if the stylist has certain looks and/or a color palette in mind it would be good to let him or her at least have an opinion on who you select.
3. At the minimum, give a stylist 2-3 weeks to get wardrobe together for a project. As much as I WISH I could waltz into a store and pull clothes, it just doesn't work that way. Stylists have to pitch the projects to store owners or sometimes corporate PR companies to get the thumbs up. Many times if the project is not guaranteed publication stores DO NOT let you pull. So, it takes a long time to find a clothing sponsor for a shoot. The more time the better.
4. Make sure the stylist is always on set when photos are being taken. Clothes move when the body moves, and sometimes they don't land in the most flattering spots. It's not only the stylist's job to pull wardrobe, but to make sure it's photo worthy at ALL times. That means steamed, pressed...picture perfect. If they put clamps on the back of an outfit - WORK WITH IT. At the end of the day, the stylist doesn't just need to make a great photo for their portfolio, they need to SELL the heck out of the clothes to the viewer. They are representing the clothing sponsor. That's the ONLY reason that the clothing company gave the stylist clothes in the first place. And if you don't use a stylist and you pull the clothes from a boutique yourself, PLEASE keep the store owner in mind!
5. Location, location, location. Make sure to tell your stylist your shooting location. For example, if you selected Sedona for an engagement shoot, I automatically think of red rocks. Therefore, I'm NOT going to have my client wear clothing that is mostly made up of orange, coral or red. It would look terrible. BUT, maybe you were thinking the woodsy Oak Creek and not the red rock, but it just happened to be in Sedona. Well, then those colors would look beautiful against the green leaves. Sadly, the stylist has already nixed those colors because all they know is Sedona.
More tips to come, but keep those in mind. Most importantly, just value a stylist's expertise and trust them completely. If they fail to meet your expectations work with someone else or maybe try wearing that hat too.