How To Get Hired For Photo Styling Work You Want

Aug 02, 2023

“Style, Shoot & Show” the work you want to get hired to do
.  Years ago, I took a Creative Live course taught by PhotographerJohn Keatley. (I took 2 of John's classes!)  You can find his Courses HERE. This is the advice John gave to the Photographers taking his course ~ "style, shoot and show the work you want to get hired to do."  That same advice goes for us Photo Stylists.  Also, sidebar to that:  If you want to get work and meet clients, I always recommend going where photographers GO (Photography Trade Shows and Photography Events!), READ what they read and ATTEND their educational courses.  (Like, I did with taking John's courses.) Our Post on Tips for Photo Stylists Working with Photographers goes into more tips on our all-important relationship with Photographers.

As a Photo Stylist we love our style boards, shopping/sourcing and style inspiration, right?!? But, the key to our successful business is also learning the business side of the business. (& going to Photographer industry education and events has always proven to be a valuable part of growing my business.)

It's ok to develop your photo styling niche over time. Sometimes you know immediately what and how you want to style and other times (you love it all!) and you're really not sure what or how to niche. (& that's ok ~ it may take you some time and experimentation.)  

I first started in the industry in a very small niche (childrens’ wardrobe) doing Covers and Editorial for Family Fun Magazine and Walt Disney and for the children game and toy industry (Milton Bradley, Fisher Price & Hasbro)  I eventually evolved into styling food and interiors all with a focus on children brands while continuing to style wardrobe.  (With my styling tagline being ~ “styling for the young and the young at heart"  because some adult brands love that playful, colorful style too!) & “We style Happy” (Because of my playful and colorful style way of styling)  Like John, I also style, shoot and show what I want to get hired to do.  If you have a brand with muted colors, dark and moody feel ~ I'm not your Photo Stylist.  (& that's ok!)

My styling niche has become the “lifestyle” of children (what children wear, eat, play, craft, live (bedrooms & playrooms) and has developed into a definite style and aesthetic within that niche.  So much so that when a Creative Director hiring me looked at my promo/styling piece with 12 of my images she thought they were all done by the same photographer ~ they were not ~ they were the images of 5 photographers. I actually didn’t mind her saying that! It was "proof" to me that I had developed and created a style "all my own". Even the lighting of each Photographer was consistent.  It was THEIR photo style that echoed with mine that was one of the reasons they hired me.  My goal is for someone to see my work and know it’s mine without seeing my name. When a Photographer is shooting a particular look for client ~ they oftentimes look for a style (& photo or prop stylist within that look) or aesthetic within that focus.  

You will see that with Photographer, John Keatley as well.  Check out his website. He has a definite, unique style ALL his own.  For a brand looking for his style ~ he will be the obvious choice. John is memorable and unique, right?!? That's what YOU want!

Your style and niche sometimes takes time to evolve.  You may develop a styling aesthetic within larger niche or you may interested in one area ~ like food or wardrobe.  If you are still unsure that’s ok ~ just take steps to find what you are looking to do in the styling industry.  Get out there and practice, schedule some test shoots, talk to other stylists in the industry, talk to photographers . . . in time you will just know.

So, have I worked outside my niche and "we style happy" mantra and style?

Yes!  I have been asked to do styling outside my niche & Yes! I have accepted and done assignments outside my style ~ but I do not place those images in my Portfolio.  Every image you style does not have to go into your Portfolio or Website. (It would confuse clients and make me look like a don’t have a very targeted direction, focus and niche)  You don't have to put everything you are booked for (& all your images) into your Portfolio.

So, style, shoot and show what you want to get hired to do!

Bonnie ~

Image Credit | Adobe


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