How to become a photographic stylist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship

University

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
  • photography

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.

Entry requirements

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

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College

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.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

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Apprenticeship

You could do an apprenticeship in a related field to help you to get into this role, for example:

  • an advanced apprenticeship as an assistant photographer
  • a fashion studio assistant advanced apprenticeship

These may teach you some of the skills and knowledge needed.

Entry requirements

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

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Volunteering

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.

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Career tips

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.

Further information

You'll find more details about working in the photographic industry from the British Institute of Professional Photography.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • 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

Day-to-day tasks

In your day-to-day duties may:

  • receive instructions (the ‘brief’) from the photographer or art director and come up with ideas
  • decide on the best clothes, accessories and backgrounds to achieve the desired look
  • buy, borrow or hire props, clothing and accessories
  • arrange a set
  • dress models and make any adjustments
  • keep a stock of fashion or home accessories
  • build good relationships with shops, prop suppliers, PR agencies, photographers and models
  • keep up to date with trends

Working environment

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. 

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Apprentice Designer (L3 Fashion Studio Assistant)

  • Wage: £12,000.00 Annually
  • Location: Watford

Courses In England

Are you interested in becoming a photographic stylist?

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