10 Things Fashion Stylists Should Know Before Their First Photoshoot

The aspiration of studying clothes, transforming personalities, and creating trending breaking visuals leads a fashion lover to take fashion styling as a full-time job.

Do you aspire to become an Editorial Stylist too? In this blog, I am going clear your burning doubts about editorial fashion stylists, how much they earn, how can you get started with fashion styling, and how editorials work in general! Refer to our current post on “How to Become a Fashion Stylist” if you wish to become one.

What is the Role of Fashion Stylist in a photoshoot? 

There are a set of tasks an editorial fashion stylist performs during a fashion photoshoot. This includes some of the tasks mentioned below:

  • Ideate for upcoming photoshoots and create fashion Moodboard accordingly.
  • Do trend research, stay updated to make ground-breaking images.
  • Outfit curation
  • Adjust angle, lighting, and model position to introduce each outfit in the most ideal way by collaborating with the photographer.
  • Do location scouting, conduct test shoots before conducting the actual shoot.
  • Manage to hair and makeup team if required. 
  • Sourcing for outfits.

Tips For Planning A Fashion Photoshoot as a Stylist

While there’s a common misconception that a successful photoshoot has to do with a highly creative photographer, it’s a team effort that comes into play.

It involves creative professionals like models, makeup and hair artists, photographers, and stylists coming together to put a story to inspire others. 

If you want to be a fashion stylist and conduct your first fashion photoshoot, here’s what you need to do:

  • Moodboard/Storyboard
  • Budget
  • Model
  • Photographer
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Assistants
  • Create Model Cards / Shot List
  • Location & Backgrounds
  • Schedule for the day
  • Contract & Fees

1. Moodboard

Moodboard or a storyboard is more of an inspiration that you start your project with. Moodboards help to keep you and your client in sync. Also known as Inspiration Board, it consists of a set of images, collages, written notes for references, however, 3-5 images should work fine else it might create confusion. In addition, it also helps in dictating lights, props, colors, and compositions, etc.

2. Budget

Fix a budget around how much will you be willing to spend or how much your client is willing to spend so that you can plan your things accordingly. This budget involves the charges of the photographer, stylist (you), model and makeup artists, and other additional costs.

3. Model

A model is a canvas where your styling is to be represented. These steps are taken while you ideate your concepts. The choice of models is equally important as it can make or break the look. Check out popular models in your locality with relevant hashtags, and check online references of what kind of model you’re looking for.

4. Photographer

Fashion Photographers play a crucial role in creating images. Once you’re done setting your mood board, inspirations, etc, it’s always ideal to talk about the technical aspects of it such as lightings, settings to get a better idea of how the final product will look like.

5. Makeup & Hair

As Hair and Makeup help to uplift the whole look, in case you’re not confident whether you’ll be able to pull it off, it’s always a good idea to brief hair and makeup stylists to help you out during the shoots.

6. Assistants

The photoshoot days can get really hectic as there are so many tasks that require attention. To avoid any delay or mismanagement, it’s always a good idea to hire interns or assistants who can handle the needful tasks so that you can solely focus on the styling and photoshoot.

7. Create Model Cards

Creating model cards simply means it’s a set of images or a list of reference images with the details that need to be taken so that no one has a confusing because you know what’s in your head and whats exact kind of images you are looking for so that model & photographer and the team have an idea what’s going in your mind.

8. Location & Backgrounds

Location plays a major role in making or breaking the images we want to create. Whether it is a studio shoot or outdoors, always look for landscapes that tell a similar story, color patterns, and lighting so that your picture can speak for itself. 

Research on whether you want an outdoor or a studio situation, talk to the photographer and find a list of options that fit best. Also, make sure that the location you pick is ideal for all the looks, and how easy is its transportation, etc.

9. Schedule

Scheduling is necessary. Make a list of every task that needs to be done so that you don’t miss out on anything in the last-minute chaos and the smooth movement of the fashion photoshoot. Don’t miss out on the food, transportation, backup gadgets, etc to avoid last-minute stress

10. Contract & Fees

It’s advisable to discuss every artist’s pay and mode of the payment beforehand to avoid any last-minute confusion. Although what is more advisable is to calculate the odds and be prepared.

Before packing up your shoot, it’s crucial to recheck on shots that you’ve clicked and how they needed to be edited so that if any look or photo requires a redo, it can be done instantly and the post-production process becomes easier.

Bonus Tips

  • Styling Kit: Always Keep your stylist tool kit handy. This includes mini tools like Safety pins, bobby pins, fastening pins, Snap clips, alligator clips, binder clips, fashion scissors, suede brushes, Tapes like duct tape, cellophane tape, masking tape, and double-sided tapes, etc for last-minute alterations.
  • Test Shoot: Test shoots are conducted before the actual photoshoot is planned to check whether the preparations match the requirements or not. As the name mentions, the team sets up a mock-up situation where the shoot is conducted just how it will be on the final day, which helps in making last-minute changes and avoids confusion.
  • Props: While ideating concepts you can always make a list of props you need and get them in the location. These props mostly are used to create the set. You can always ask your assistant to set up these props however you want them.
  • Clothing: Look for emerging designers who looking for exposure, talk to them about your project and your profession, and source outfits for free. While it may sound fun, trust me it’s one of the crucial but hectic jobs a fashion stylist does.
  • Food: Remember photoshoots are quite hectic. It’s likely to be a busy day for all of you so keep asking if your colleagues are looking for snacks. Otherwise, you can also locate the nearest convenience store around the photoshoot location so you can send your team to get their refreshments. 

What Should Fashion Styling Contracts Include?

There are a certain set of reasons why you should get a contract signed. Contracts also set the stage for a legitimate and professional business transaction as your clients will regard you taking this project seriously and getting them more serious. You can always use a free contract template or create one. Here are a few things you should add to your document:

1. Contact Information and Names for Client

Having a full name & contact information is necessary. If anything happens or changes in the plan or anything for Legal purposes you should have the full contact information of your team.

2. Who is involved & what is their role

Having the name of your client & team makes the task easy to know and sets updates on the role of the team and in what they are involved.

3. Date & Location

Summerise date, time, location, etc on the contract so there’s clarity in everything.

4. Payment

The Date of payment, mode of payment, and schedule should be mentioned beforehand. Be ready for an extra fee if there are additional travel or running errand costs etc.

5. Liability limitations

It is meant to be added to avoid any sort of damage that is possible. If any of the crew members destroys anything on set.

6. Post-Production and Editing

This section of a project comes back to the right of use. It touches on how the images will be processed after the shoot and the photographer & editor have clear instructions on what to look for in the final images so that you don’t end up paying any extra fee for major Changes.

7. Copyright

This is a very important part of any project because copyright and the use of data must be spoken clearly and have your permission to use.

8. Cancellation policy

Policy, where the consequence of a missed shoot will be talked about since it’s a team situation, all have to be together and in sync with their colleagues.

As a stylist, you’ll have to create multiple looks for the same shoot and the same location. Of course, it gets too time-consuming to prep for each look, outfits, hair, makeup, set design and lighting, etc, all these count a lot in creating that one image.

Hence, it is preferable to do homework on each look (it should be well thought out) to make it easier for their final day.

During the final shoot, keep backing up your files in between shoots when there’s a look change, saving up your work constantly has to be your utmost priority!


Editorial fashion stylists mostly get associated with publishing houses, and websites and sometimes work solely as a freelancer. Although it’s mostly the fashion photographers who make such contracts making one yourself will get you valued more.

Now that you’ve known the important ways a Fashion Stylist prepares for a photo shoot for the first time, you are all set to explore the new dimension of Editorial fashion styling and work for the best magazines and publishing houses!

For the best Fashion education for Styling and Image Design, refer to Best Fashion Colleges if you’re looking to pursue Fashion Design.

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