How to hire a stylist
where to start and how to find one
Your product is ready, you have your branding all figured out, your website is under way and you’re ready to hire a stylist to create images for you. But where do you even start? I’ve heard this question a lot so I thought i'd write my first blog post about it!
I like to describe finding a stylist or product photographer the same way you would a hairstylist.
Just as there are different hairdressers for different types of styles, there are different product stylists for different imagery needs. I mean, you wouldn’t go to a cool funky hairdresser in Newtown if you were looking for a classic up-do. Just as you wouldn’t book a hairdresser who specialises in colouring to cut your hair. I’m sure they could both do the job that you’ve asked for, but it wouldn’t look as amazing as if you had booked the right stylist to fit the job.
What I’m trying to say, in a round about way, is to choose the right stylist to fit your brand.
How to decide on your style
Product stylists and photographers all have their own unique look, from minimalist and clean to organic and layered. Some are defined as lifestyle stylist, while others are more contemporary and stylistic. It’s all about finding the one whose style resonates with you the most. For example, my style is bright clean lines with a modern twist on the classic lifestyle image. While I have a stylist friend who loves to shoot in a darker romantic style. Each style is great; it’s just deciding which one suits your brand.
Deciding on what kind of product photography you are after will also be a big help in deciding which stylist you will book. If you are after ‘straight product photography’, which means a photo of your product on a white background, or on no background for the shop page on your website, you will need to hire a product photographer who specialises in that. This is often someone who is just a photographer as no styling is required. They do however need to be qualified to take these detailed shots, as you really want them to capture all the details such as the label.
On the flip side, if you are after images of your product styled into ‘lifestyle images’ you will need to hire a product stylist who specialises in that. Like in the hairdressing example I gave above, I’m sure they could both do a nice job in what the other one specializes in, but you’re better off booking the right person for the job.
How to find them
A great way to find out if a particular stylist matches with your brand is to look at their past work. So jump on their website and take a look at their portfolio.
Instagram is also a handy way to see if your visual aesthetic matches up, but please note that not all stylists use instagram to promote their work. Some of the best stylists I know don’t have the most beautifully curated instagram feeds. So always best to check out their professional portfolio.
You can also reach out to other brands you’ve seen whose visuals you love. Simply ask them who created their imagery for them. Just like when you ask another woman in the bathroom where she got her hair done because it looks so gorgeous!
How to book them
The best way to go about booking a stylist is to contact them through their email. You could possibly go down the instagram direct message root, but you risk your message not being seen. I’ve accidentally missed DM’s before so I recommend going old school and sending an email.
This is what I love to read in an email from a potential client….
Tell me about your product (bonus points for including a photo)
Do you have a website or Instagram?
How many images are you looking to have created and where will these images be used? (for example on your website or social media)
Do you have an idea in mind for the shoot or would you like me to be the artistic director and come back with some ideas for you
Are you working towards a budget.
And it’s always nice to know where you are based.
From this, the stylist should be able to give you a rough quote and get the ball rolling, without having to have too many back and forth emails.
So now that you’ve booked a stylist, what actually happens?…
Every stylist works differently and has a different process, but I always like to start off with a mood board.
A mood board is a really great way to synchronize ideas and to set expectations for what the final images will look like. To use the hairdresser analogy again, you’re always going to get a better result if you take a photo into the salon to show the hairdresser. Showing an example of what you have in mind, rather than just describing it, works 1,000 times better.
Feel free to even put a mood board together yourself, using Pinterest or one of my favourites – gomoodboard.com
Once the mood board has been established and approved the stylist can then create a shot list; a guide to what images will be captured at the shoot. This list is a great way to make sure that you and the stylist are on the same page visually. Feel free to make any suggestions or additions to the plan at this stage, don’t be afraid to speak up to make sure you’re getting exactly what you’re hoping for.
The Stylist will then go out and organise props, find a location, book talent or a team if required, basically get everything organized for a fantastic shoot day!
So there you have it! That is how you find and book a stylist. I hope that helped, and like always I’m here to answer any other questions you may have.
Toodle pip! (I really need to think of a better blog sign off)