The role of the stylist in location photography is often one of the unsung heroes. Not only do they perform beautiful styling miracles, but they usually plan and organize everything leading up to the shoot day, from liaising with clients to find the best photoshoot location to match the brief. And by the time the shoot begins, they are often the ones who know the job inside out, meaning they take the pivotal role of ensuring everything runs smoothly on the day.
As the stylist is an essential role in the photoshoot process, we wanted to shine a little light on these vision makers and shoot creators. So we grilled one of our favourite stylists Jen Haslam to take us through a typical shoot day.
Jen told us that ‘whilst every shoot is slightly different, they generally roll like this one-day shoot schedule. But as anyone in the industry knows, some can last for a week or more!’
8 am: It’s call time as the whole team arrives. Most projects include photographers, stylists or art directors, set build, production teams and assistants. And there is usually a colossal van or two filled with a house move full of props, products and everything we need to create the images.
8 am-9 am After a quick hello and a look around the location to work out where we’ll be shooting the first shot, we spend the first hour of the day unloading the van and working out where everything will go. We decide where the stylist’s props, photographer’s kit, and products will fit. We also have to factor in where the location owners’ pieces will go so we can create the day’s shots with only what we need in view.
It’s quite an intense part of the day. Everyone’s head is down, and they’re busy doing their own thing. I’m usually briefing the set build team, helping gather the pieces needed for the day’s first shot, and unloading a car packed to the brim with lovely props.
9 am – 11 am We have a regroup once we’ve unloaded everything. If we have time, we snatch a swift and much-needed coffee and then it’s straight in to get the first shot set up underway.
I always like to shoot a larger shot first to set the tone for the look and feel of the day. This can take up to a few hours for us to build sets and locate specific products. Set build can involve decorating walls, putting up false walls, laying flooring and hanging curtains. Then it’s time for the pieces to go in, find the camera angle, set the lighting, and style the set.
Once we are all happy, the first shot is sent for approval or signed on location if the client is on-site.
11- 1 pm Once approved and depending on shot count, we usually shoot a couple more sets ahead of breaking for a quick lunch. Different shots can be within the same scene or a complete redress and area change to shoot in. It’s a frantic but coordinated dance, and everyone moves fast but efficiently to maximize the day,
1 pm (or sometimes at 3 pm with tummy growling), we grab a quick bite to eat.
1.30 – 4 pm More shots after lunch, ensuring we maximize the opportunities throughout the location. More often than not, the team moves around to capture various areas and make the most of the day.
4 pm Everything that’s come into the house has to go back out, so we reload the vans, re-decorate the walls, and put the location owners’ furniture and pieces back.
It’s like someone has waved a fairy wand, with the location returning to its original look and feel. So much so, you’d have no idea the day had even happened.
5 pm It’s time to go home and hand back the location. So it’s a goodbye to the team, and away we go, back to our own homes to unpack the vehicles and, if needed, reload them for the next day.
So there you have it, a whistle-stop tour of a typical shoot day.
To find out more about Jen check out her Instagram or read about her newly published book ‘A New Leaf’ in our post ‘Turning over a New Leaf: Foliage Inspired Interiors‘
For more on how stylists and photographers collaborate and insights about how shoot days run, read about The photographic dream team, Diana Civil Russell Sadur.