Five Skills You Need As a Photo and Prop Stylist Beside Styling

Mar 11, 2024

What we come to realize as we start progressing in our photo styling career is that we need a variety of skills to build a successful business.  You learn to look at your styling assignments in a "total production" kind of way.  You don’t always need to be the one executing or doing the tasks, but you do need to know where to outsource them (& grow   and maintain a relationship with those people.)  Ideally, tho’ learning to do them yourself will give you an EDGE in getting hired.  You know what I say  . . .  Be the obvious choice.  The more you know (& build into your business) the busier and more bookings you will receive.


Five Skills You Need As A Stylist:



It can be used in many ways.  Some, client may want a visual proposal from you. (Yes, they have seen your images on your site, but they still want more of an idea of how you will visually approach their project.)  A word of caution:  I’m always the “go the extra mile” for the client girl, BUT be mindful not to share absolutely everything you would do.  Knowing how to visually put together brand boards and decks will give you an opportunity to sell yourself even more.  The better you express yourself visually ~ the better.  

These skills will fare you with shot lists, mood boards, PowerPoints and any collaborative documents that are part of the production and styling.  THIS is also where you can show your personality, attention to details, your organization, ability to put together beautifully images, fonts, copyrighting.  Go get on over to Canva! ;)

I worked with a Junior Studio Staff stylist that promoted to a Junior Art Director because of her computer and graphic arts skills ~ that is a big, promotion and jump.  Many stylists have worked years to become an art or creative director.  A testament that you can succeed with the skills you know and develop!  

I have done all my own Pitching and Proposal decks as well as all my Workshop Packet, Media Kits for working with clients.  These can help sell your styling services as well as those other income streams we talk about.



Photographers and Clients need locations to shoot at!  I have found in my styling career, not every photographer loves this task!  So, very early on I took on these task for Photographers and a services (which later became a steady income stream)  I educated myself on what photographers look for in a space, such as lighting. Also, what is the photographers style, is it minimal, colorful ~ do they like a textured wall, negative space,  do they need some outdoor/location space next to location, etc.  What will you be shooting, will the space compliment it?  How accessible is it for the team to navigate and work in the space, would there be distractions to the shoot in the space?

There is a variety of locations you could scout for a Photographer.  A residential home, museum, park, businesses of all kinds.  (I have booked locations for photographers from a pool company to a Kitchen Cabinet Company.)  Kitchen location was a great location because they had 10 mini kitchens set up to display their products.  So, the client got to choose. (and choose more than one.) It was like having "mini-sets" to chose from.  The Photographer was thrilled.  Alway, always, make your photographer look good.;) 

So, I have a book/digital package of locations that can be used for photo shoots.  I will definitely do a "How To Find Locations" post in detail!  There is so much to this one!



You are oftentimes given a budget when you get booked for photo shoot.  I say (oftentimes) because actually there has been many times where I was not given a budget from a client.  (I know, right?!?)  I am always conservative with clients money, while getting the best wardrobe, food, props, etc.  You want to be mindful of budget and where it will go. (& ensure it covers shoot expenses.)  I have a form in our Workflow Form Kit and organization system, that I use to keep track of budget for a client.  You want to ensure you have the money/budget question readily available if a client asks “how budget/expenses are going?”  But, also:  budgeting for your OWN business.  This is a necessary skill to sustain and grow your styling business.  What to budget, what to invest in to grow your business, etc.



Producer of Photo Shoot is the person who gets all the details/logistics together to organize and schedule the shoot.  Producers oftentimes do the hiring of talent (photographers, photo stylists, makeup artists, etc.) production assistants, source locations for shoots, get needed permits, budget, and travel arrangements, if shoot is multi-day location shoot ~ so, alot!)   Be mindful of some of these duties and tasks that you could do.  Several times, I have done or assisted in all of these Producer tasks throughout my photo styling career.  (We have a FREE Guide for Creative Roles and Terms in our Resource Library, if you want more info on creative team member responsibilities.)



Communication skills from writing emails, to copywriting, to copy in your presentations, being comfortable communicating in videos ~ ALL communication.   Your photo styling, is of course, most important ~ but how you communicate will be important in your career.  There are some phrases to avoid as a Photo Stylist.

▪︎ How do you communicate via email with clients?
▪︎ How do you communicate with the creative team?
▪︎ When troubleshooting or relaying creative ideas how do you communicate?


I have chatted here on the Blog, that your re-book and retention rate could be for other/many reasons ~ not just your stying.  There are more skills and traits that are important to your clients.

So, these are 5 skills to practice and be mindful of as you continue to practice your craft of styling!  As with the craft of styling, I continue to hone these 5 skills along side of styling skills all the time.  This may sound like an overwhelming list.  Remember, just to take it a step at a time. You are the Pilot.


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Bonnie ~

Image Credit  |  Coffee and Milk via

FREE Business of Photo Styling Guides to help with your Styling Business! Check them our in our Resource Library.


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