What to Know When Assisting a Lead Photo Stylist?


Much is talked about what a Stylist should look for in an Assistant Stylist . . . I  you are assisting a Stylist, let’s talk about what YOU should look for, shall we! #realtalk. (I have been on my share of photo shoots where the below has not happened and I have consulted with Assistants sharing their thoughts)  Some items to think about . . .
What Photo Styling Assistants Should Look For When Assisting: 

▪︎  Stylist that teaches you and is generous with his/her experience, resources and knowledge.
▪︎  Stylist that explains what & why he/she is doing something.*
▪︎  Sends you Call Sheet so you, too, can have all available assignment information.
▪︎  Rundown of photo shoot/photo studio/location etiquette and/or procedures.
▪︎  Rundown of what to expect in terms of assignment, payment procedures, parking, etc.
▪︎  Introductions to the Team you are working with on Shoot.
▪︎  Includes you in discussions and experiences on set.
▪︎  Shares photos of the assignment with you and timelines as to when they will be expected.
▪︎  Courtesy “Wrap” conversation:  What was helpful or what could be done differently/more efficiently
▪︎  Courtesy - Please & Thank you. (Do I really need to say this? 😳 )

* (Stylist may not be able to explain immediately to you on set. They should have a discussion with you when he/she can.)

While there is not a lot of time to dedicate to teaching on the shoot/assignment. (You will have to pick up on what the Stylist is doing) A thoughtful Stylist will spend some time before assignment with you and after to answer any questions you have.  (Keep a small pad handy to quickly note any questions you have.)

Some Stylists treat hiring an Assistant as just that (hiring help for the day) and others treat it as a Mentorship.  My hope for you is you find/work for Stylists who are generous with their time, talent, education and resources with you.

Now, on to what Stylist’s look for.  If you are assisting a Fashion, Food, Prop and Interior Stylist, they will all have different needs, but here are some general guidelines to keep in mind.

What Photo Stylists Look for in an Assistant Stylist:

▪︎  Reliable.
▪︎  Positive and willingness to learn.
▪︎  Strong work ethic.
▪︎  Foresee and have solutions to problems. (Ability to troubleshoot)
▪︎  Be able to work under possible pressure.
▪︎  Very organized.
▪︎  Keeps set/work area clean.
▪︎  Ability to carry heavy bags, boxes and equipment.
▪︎  Positive personality with no complaining.
▪︎  When shopping/sourcing, be available in a timely manner via phone/text.

Some thoughts on Life as a Stylist (Assistant)

▪︎  Be at least 15 minutes early.
▪︎  Have an understanding of job hours, payment terms, what is expected of you. (job scope)
▪︎  Oftentimes, jobs can go overtime, be available to stay late if need be.
▪︎  Speak to Photographer discretely about problems, issues, etc. (oftentimes, their client is on shoot)
▪︎  Don’t ever ask for more work or pitch your work to others on set/assignment - ever.
▪︎  Dress professional, but comfortable.
▪︎  Safety is always a concern around equipment, so wear appropriate shoes. (no sandals or heels)
▪︎  Stay on set at all times. (If you have to leave, tell Stylist)
▪︎  Mistakes can happen. If you make one, just be honest, apologize and correct it.  Don’t place blame on others.
▪︎  Keep workspace organized and clean. (and completely clean after assignment wraps)
▪︎  No phones, computers of beverages/food on set.
▪︎  No taking photos of set or behind the scenes photos. (or posting photos unless approved)
▪︎  Send Invoice within a day of assignment with all receipts (if applicable) for reimbursement.

You are there to learn, so remember to pick up tips on everything - process, “industry language”, equipment, resources - everything.  Do not be afraid to ask if you are unsure of something. Sometimes, Stylists can’t answer your questions re: learning the business on set.  (so, again, keep a small notebook and ask questions later)

Remember, whether you are an Assistant or a Lead Stylist - you can learn from each other.   


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