Photography & Fashion Styling: The crucial relationship

I recently had a Twitter conversation with a fashion stylist. She was unhappy about how stylists are not acknowledged whenever images are posted on social media and in publications; both online and print. Photographers also suffer this lack of acknowledgement, but it seems the tide is turning in that regard.

I made a reference to our spartan photo-shoots in Zimbabwe in general and Bulawayo specifically: The current state of affairs forces the photographer to be everything; including being the stylist. Sometimes there is a make-up artist: But oftentimes it’s just the photographer and the model. There are some photographers who are by profession also stylists; but those are in the minority. Ideally, a photo-shoot should comprise a team of at least four:

  • The photographer and his/her assistant
  • The fashion stylist
  • The hair stylist
  • The make-up artist

Either the photographer or the stylist comes up with  the shoot concept based on the purpose of the shoot. The existing ‘normal’ that has the model messaging the photographer asking, ‘what should I bring?’ is not ideal. The excuse for not having a full team is usually lack of resources. And a reference to resources usually means money. But we have plenty human resources in all departments needed to execute an exceptional photo-shoot and the power of collaborations should be harnessed.

Not much is happening in terms of fashion editorials: We don’t have many fashion magazines, if any. Boutiques generally don’t stock exclusive designs from fashion designers, be they local, regional or international and they don’t see much value in using models to push their brands. In the few instances that models are used, the budgets are so pathetic they can’t even cover the photographer and the models’ transport and lunch.

The fashion industry is heavily dependent on photography for branding and visibility purposes. The fashion industry can only grow if the relationship between fashion and photography is nurtured and professionalised. The onus is upon Photographers, models and stylists to work in tandem to produce spectacular work and the industry will follow.

For this to happen crucial questions have to  be asked before a shoot is done:

  • What is the purpose of the shoot
  • Which photographer and stylist can execute purpose of the shoot
  • What’s the concept of the shoot
  • At what location can we best execute concept
  • What fashion items and accessories are needed for the shoot and where can we get them

This kind of approach requires planning and an abandonment of the quick results approach we have taken to lately. And it should be done if we are to see a growth of the fashion, modelling and photography industries.

Mgcini Nyoni - Freelance photographer
+263 772 103 564
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