Photographic stylist

Design, arts and crafts

Career outlook for photographic stylist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would help photographers get the best images by creating the right look and mood for a photo shoot.

You would usually specialise in one type of photography:

  • Fashion
  • Interiors
  • Food
  • Advertising
  • Editorial

You’d find the props, dress the set and make arrangements behind the scenes. You would get ideas or instructions – called the ‘brief’ – from the photographer or art director.

On some jobs you might have a lot of creative freedom whilst on others the brief might be very strict.

You would:

  • Discuss the brief with the photographer or art director
  • Come up with ideas
  • Decide on the best clothes, accessories and backgrounds to achieve the desired look
  • Buy, borrow or hire props, clothing and accessories
  • Arrange the set
  • Dress models and make adjustments so that clothes fit and look good
  • Keep a stock of fashion or home accessories so you can contribute items to a shoot
  • Develop good relationships with shops, prop suppliers, public relations agencies, photographers and models
  • Keep up to date with trends

In food styling, you would buy ingredients, cook the food (before or during the shoot, as necessary), and display it in an appetising way.

As a fashion stylist, as well as doing photographic work, you might work on fashion shows, music videos and TV shows.

Working conditions


You would need to be flexible about your working hours. Days are often long and pressurised, as deadlines are tight and models, props and locations may only be available for a limited time.


You may have a home or office base, but much of your work would take place in photographic studios. You may also need to work on location, depending on the type of shoot. The work can involve climbing ladders, lifting, carrying and using glue, paint and hand tools.


You may spend a lot of time travelling to shoots, either in your local area, or around the UK and possibly overseas. As you may frequently have to transport bulky or delicate items, having a full driving licence and your own transport is useful, but not essential.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Negotiating
  • Developing a plan
  • Listening
  • Verbal communication
  • Supporting
  • Respecting
  • Empathising
  • Designing
  • Creative

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Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

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Getting into this role is very competitive. Most photographic stylists:

  • come from a fashion, photography or design background
  • have a National Certificate or National Qualification (SCFQ level 5/6), Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) in areas like art and design, photography or visual merchandising
  • or have a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in areas like art and design, photography or visual merchandising. 

You can enter design-centred National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF level 5) with no formal qualifications but most courses require National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 6).

You can enter a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

Entry to a degree (SCFQ level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.

To enter a postgraduate qualification (SCFQ level 11) will usually require a relevant degree.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by many courses) 
  • Maths (required by many courses) 
  • Art and design (required by many courses) 
  • Photography
  • Media
  • Fashion and textile technologies
  • Social studies subjects.

For food photography practical cookery or cake craft may be helpful.

You will also need

A portfolio of your work when applying to courses and to jobs.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show creative, digital and visual communication skills such as Skills for Work Creative Digital Media (SCFQ level 4) or Creative Industries (SCFQ level 5).

Work-based qualifications such as a Diploma in Creative and Digital Media (SCQF level 7) or Retail: Visual Merchandising (SVQ level 3).