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The 5 Essentials of Styling for a Photo Shoot

Styling is a partnership. A partnership between the photographer and the stylist. If you are ever asked to style a photo shoot there are some fundamental rules that are good to know. Styling is an art, but also a science. You need to know the rules to truly start experimenting with your ideas. Get these essentials engrained in your practice and your shoots will be a success.


This is one of the most important parts of styling a shoot. Colour is the way effect the mood and energy of the image. A great technique that many stylists use is to use colours from opposite ends of the colour wheel together in one look. This creates high contrast in the image whilst remaining sophisticated. This technique is called ‘colour blocking’ and worth adding to your stylistic skills.

Remember to work closely with your photographer on colour choices. Include hair, make-up and the background/location when considering the colour pallet of your shoot.


Texture is your photographers best friend, it allows them to play with light and shadow, creating interesting and eye-catching images. Texture is an absolute must in black and white photography. The way to achieve texture is through fabric choice. Denim, leather, knit, lace, tweed all have different textures and absorb light in different ways. Consider texture in your styling and your photographer will thank you for it.


Layering is a great way to manipulate the viewers eye when constructing an image. Directing them where to look and highlighting certain parts of an outfit more than others. You don’t want to be covering your model in a sea of fabric, but some consideration for layering can be a powerful styling tool. A simple rule is to balance heavy areas with slim cuts.


Like layering accessories create points of focus for the viewer and contrast within the image. Many stylists use accessories to stamp their unique vision on a shoot, expressing their personality and creativity. Classic ways to use accessories to draw the viewers focus is using long earrings to draw attention to the mouth, or a necklace to pull focus towards the cleavage. Accessories are also a good physical prop within a shoot – allowing a model to have something to hold or touch can help the shot look more natural and relaxed.

Your vision

This is your time to shine! One of the most important aspects of the shoot will be your vision and personality. Remember to bring this into the room. You have the fundamentals, why not experiment with breaking the rules? Use the outlandish item of clothing you have been dying to try out. Your creativity is key to developing your style. Go for it!

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