Essential Session Styling Tips

By 28th May 2015 January 30th, 2020 No Comments

WHO ARE WE KIDDING: ‘EGO’ plays a big part in all artists’ view of themselves and their work – yet the fact that each shoot is a collaboration between so many people: designers, art-directors, photographers, models, actors, stylists, costume-designers, make-up artists…. Means that in our line of work, falling back on one’s ‘ego’ often comes to mean that we are rather more terrified of NOT being heard, understood, appreciated, admired, rather than being driven by a sense of faith in ourselves, and our abilities, as being deserving of the admiration of others.

The defining factor of success in this industry lies in whether you, regardless of how much faith you have in your talent, have the courage to surround yourself with people who are always pushing your own creative boundaries, who are challenging you to think in new ways, take you on exciting creative trajectories which you hadn’t even thought of yourself. And – The more successful you become in this industry – the more talented, opinionated and articulate people you surround yourself professionally become about their visions, about the way they see the world and life around them – and this is where the true PRIVILEGE of this industry lies :

In the sheer JOY of knowing that the more you accomplish – the more you will feel you have yet to give! The more KNOWLEDGE you acquire – the more excited you become about what there is yet to learn! The more INSPIRATION you feel – the more open you become to the vision of others around you! The greater the CONFIDENCE you have in your skills, the more you seek to explore new territory. The wilder your IMAGINATION grows – the more important it becomes to gather people around you to help you bring your visions to life.


1)   The Hair & Make-Up room can often become the most PERSONAL SPACE for your artist – a kind of ‘refuge’ where they can prepare mentally and psychologically for the tasks that lie ahead of them. This is especially true when working with actors, or TV presenters who are getting themselves in the right frame of mind and collect their thoughts and emotions before they are expected to ‘perform’. So be conscious of your artist’s concentration levels and the pressure they are under. If that means having to clear the room of all the people who have popped in for a chat – it is your job to take charge!

2)   Develop an EAGLE-EYE’ FOR DETAIL! Everyone on set is focused on very specific things and it is easy for you as the hair-stylist to get caught-up in everything that goes on during a shoot. Your job is NOT done until the final frame has been shot. Keep your eyes on your artist at all times (even if that means watching from a monitor in a different room…) and be prepared to speak to the director/photographer to take a moment to allow you to make the necessary adjustments. When looking at an image on screen after it was shot, everyone’s eyes are trained to process a million little details to determine whether this might be ‘the’ shot. You have to rely on yourself first and foremost to spot if, and when you are needed to step on-set to take action.

3)   MOOD-BOARDS are a massive part of the client and their close creative team brain-storming ideas for a shoot – so pay close attention to what they have to ‘say’ about the direction they wish the shoot to go. When going-up for jobs, you may also be required to submit mood-boards, so potential clients can see your stylistic influences, so they are a great way for you and the client to start agreeing on a few things prior to the shoot. So: a) Consider movement etc in their mood boards. If, for example there are a number of beauty close-ups with the model lying down, waves tumbling across a pillow or her shoulders – Make sure you come prepared and design a style that can deliver upon their expectations, b) Make sure You can deliver what you are presenting in your mood boards – It goes without saying that it would be rather embarrassing to be asked to create a style you suggested as a reference, yet cannot create on the day.

4)   SPONTANEITY is as much part of every shoot as meticulous planning and preparation. All members of the creative team on set are imaginatively engaged, so new ideas to ‘switch-things-up’ may come from various directions. For you to keep your cool in the midst of changing circumstances – It is important to stay one-step-ahead wherever you can. Only you know the preparation that is needed when it comes to hair, so if, for example you are being asked to change an existing hair-down style to a hair-up style – you need to tell the entire team: “GREAT! Give me xyz amount of time, and we’ll be back on set with a fabulous new creation…” If you don’t – you will be forced to work with everyone’s eyes on you on set and might start feeling nervous and as though everyone is waiting for you.

5)   ARTICULATE YOUR IDEAS CONFIDENTLY. Unless you are working with a team of people who know you well and trust you implicitly (or, of course, your fabulous reputation precedes you…) – You will often be required to paint a brief picture for the others to make them trust you enough to just let you ‘do your thing’. This might just be a few words quoting a stylistic reference such as an iconic, well known star, a specific historical reference – or even just an emotional reference. Remember: They are NOT the hair-stylists, so they don’t want to hear the technicalities of what you are about to do – but they want to be inspired and ultimately be ‘on-board’ with your vision. Utimately – everyone is working to be ‘on the same page’ creatively!


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