10 things an Interior Stylist does for a big shoot

10 things an Interior Stylist does for a big shoot10 things an Interior Stylist does for a big shoot

I was recently asked by an assistant member of Inside Stylists what are  all the things an Interior Stylist is expected to do before a big shoot. They have been assisting for a short while and have undertaken a few shoots of their own but if they are anything like I was at the beginning of my freelance career there’s always a nagging doubt that I’m missing something, so I’m sharing ten things I do before a photoshoot. You might do them too?

  1. Come up with ideas 
    As soon as you’ve received the brief and have seen the products you’ll be shooting it’s the job of the interior stylist to get creative and come up with ideas on exactly how to shoot the range.
    Some brands will want “real life” styles and others will want out-of-the-box ideas that stand out – conversational shots. Now is the time to use your knowledge of what’s on trend, what colours, and styles are being talked about. Do you need to do a colour blocking paint technique on the walls or have oversized floral wallpaper? Is there a bright colour that’s everywhere or is the mood of the season softer and muted? By keeping the trends in mind your images will appeal to magazines for their features. They’re always looking for on trend shots for their pages.
  2. Create Moodboards, concept boards and/or drawings
    The chances are you’ve been hired to create a look that’s on brand for the client. How do you share your ideas? Oftentimes the client wants to hand over all the creative to you. Sometimes that person isn’t visual and can’t imagine what a shot will look like when you talk about it. That’s when mood boards come in.
    Creating a moodboard with examples of the colours, styles and props you’d like to include in the shoot will really help the client to get a feel for the whole look of the shoot.
    You may need to create a concept board with the exact items that will be included as well.Drawing out the shots is good for both you and the client. The client will be able to see exactly what you have in mind and you’ll be able to make a detailed props list from each set.

    Drawing of a room design by an interior stylist
    Photo by Jon Day @JonDayPhotography for Harveys Furniture

    N.B. you don’t have to be an ace artist to create sketches that explain your ideas. Simple line drawings will work well. See below an example of a drawing I did for a Harvey’s Furniture shoot a while ago and the end result. The client knew exactly how the shot would look.

  3. Communicate everything with the client
    There are lots of things you need to make sure the client is aware of throughout the shoot set up process. They should know your day rate before they book you (If you don’t have a rate card to send them check out this post on how to create one) Once you have confirmed the shots you’ll be able to tell the client how many prep days you’ll need and what you think the props budget needs to be. You’ll also be able to send in your props advance invoice.
    It’s also a good idea to let them know the timescales of everything- props delivery, collections etc. Interior styling is a bit like DIY – it takes much longer than anyone thinks.
  4. Get a team together 
    As an interior stylist we are often meeting lots of industry relevant people so when it comes to putting a shoot together we know all the right people. Now is the time to recomment or book a photographer, interior stylist assistant, set builder and courier. Book them in early. They get snapped up quickly!
  5. Recommend shoot locations 
    The client will have an idea of the kind of property they want to shoot in but may not know of any specific ones. That’s when you can recommend locations you’ve been to already or help with the search.
    Nine times out of ten the client will book the location ahead of booking the interior stylist but if they need a little direction you can share your fave contacts. Obviously we love these ones 
  6. Get the props 
    Now for the fun bit… until you can’t find one random item! The interior stylist is responsible for making sure every shot is properly propped whether that’s a rug, wallpaper, plinth or backdrop. You need to think of everything, have options and cover all bases – in the allotted prep time.
    It’s propping not shopping and it can take days and days for a big shoot. Always allow more time for propping and find the difficult and out of season items first.
    If you’re hiring from a prop house ensure you allow plenty of time for them to pack up your hire and a courier to collect. Prop houses are extremely busy right now and picking up a loan next day is nigh on impossible. Be warned!
  7. Logistics
    Getting you and your props, the prop hire loan, the products from the client, the set builder and the courier to the shoot at the right time takes quite a bit of organisation. In fact, if you worked it out, the job of an interior stylist is probably 70-80% logistics. Now is the time to make sure everything is booked for collection and delivery and everyone knows where they need to be.
    The client may provide a call sheet but if you’re doing all the logistics sometimes you’ll need to do this and send it out to the team.
  8. Breakfast… or is that just me 
    Now, I’m a person who likes a second breakfast and I don’t tend to leave for a shoot without a travel mug of cappuccino in my hand but shoots can be fast and frantic so it’s a good idea to prevent anyone from getting hangry by taking some croissants and fruit along to the shoot for a breakfast.
    I tend to use the morning coffee and croissant time to talk through the shoot with the team and share what expectations we have for the shoot day.It’s also a good idea to think about where lunch is coming from. If you’re shooting in the middle of nowhere it might be a good idea to pop to the supermarket before the shoot and grab lunch so you aren’t caught short- been there done that. Deliveroo doesn’t deliver everywhere!
  9. More logistics
    Again with the organising! You need to know what is going where after the shoot. The courier needs to know what time to collect the props, when they need to be back at the prop hire and if the client’s products need to be returned to the office too.
  10.  Invoice
    Once the shoot is over it’s time to send in your invoice. I used to wait a week until I sent my invoice in but now I send it straight away – usually the following Monday (admin day). The client will want to get the final costs in their books and you need to be paid in a timely manner too.

So, there you have it. A very brief outline of what tasks an interior stylist does for a big photoshoot. Have you got a list like this? Do you have more questions? Drop us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

Emma morton-turner




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