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8 Essential Photoshoot Items When You Don’t Have a Stylist

Setting up a fashion shoot, or doing a senior session, often means a few outfit changes and props or accessories. If you are lucky, you will have a stylist there to help you out and provide all of the little bits and pieces you need.

But if you’re on your own, you need to be prepared. What can you do to make sure you have everything you need? Here are the essential items you will need to have on hand – and making up a kit bag or box with these items, ready to go at any moment, will really help.

Even if you do not have much of a budget, you can pick up most of these at a low price – and if you want a more luxury version, look for sales and charity stores that sell them cheaply. A small investment now could reap dividends later on.


  1. A felt hat

A simple hat can transform a look hugely. Get a plain black felt hat in a style that will suit most looks, and in a size that is likely to fit most people, and you have an accessory that can be used time and time again. You may not want to use it on every single shoot – after a while, your potential clients will start to realise that many of your photos look too similar – but it can be a good staple to use when you need it. You can employ this technique with both male and female models, though you may want to pick up a different style for each. Make the same hat look different by tilting it forward, putting it right on the back of the head, or giving it a jaunty angle.

  1. Statement sunglasses

Sunglasses can also be one of those accessories that makes or breaks a look. You can transform a model into a queen of cool by putting the right sunglasses on – and getting a great statement pair into your shoot kit can also save the day if your model is having difficulty with bright lights. There are a lot of different styles to choose from, but either something timeless or very unique will work best. Normally black frames are the way to go as they will match just about any look. You can also pick up some plain glasses without lenses as a statement piece that will add geek chic appeal whenever needed.


  1. A vest

When setting up a shoot, you should always encourage models to bring a couple of plain vests or t shirts in white and black. Making sure you have your own on hand will also help massively. A plain vest can work wonders for accessories or beauty shoots, allowing the viewer to concentrate on the important parts of the look rather than being distracted by the clothing. They can also convey a tough or simple style for fashion looks. These can also be a very cheap and disposable item, meaning that you can get them wet or dirty, cut them up, or do whatever else you want with no issues. You can also get a range of sizes to suit all models without having to break the bank.


  1. A veil or net

Getting a small piece of netting and some hairclips into your kit bag could be something that saves the day when your shoot isn’t working as you would like it to. Just about every female model out there is going to look ultra glamorous and mysterious with a veil in front of her face. It’s a timeless look and works especially well with black and white photography. Combined with your felt hat, you can also create a range of new looks. If your model is a little body shy, you could also use safety pins or wardrobe tape to fix a net inside the neckline of a dress or top to give it a more demure appearance. If you do not use the netting as part of the wardrobe, you can even use it to create a filter for your lights.


  1. Statement jewellery

More accessories? Yep, that’s what styling is all about! When your portrait shoot is lacking a little something, you can add a statement necklace to really push things up a notch. Earrings can frame the face better, and a little tiara or hair piece can also create a more stunning look. Bracelets can also work well in beauty shots where you will be putting hands near to the face. If you can only afford to pick up one item of jewellery for this purpose, go for the necklace – not all models have pierced ears or hair that suits tiaras, so the necklace will give you the most mileage. It can jazz up any neckline or provide an area of interest for headshots.

  1. A light scarf

A simple and light scarf, preferably in one solid colour, can have a lot of uses. Headscarf? Tied around the neck in a bow? Dancing around the shoulders like a shrug? Trailing from one hand as a prop? Tied around the waist like a belt? You can get a lot of use out of this one item. If you have a thin or gauzy enough material, you can also try stretching it over your studio lights (far enough away from the bulb to be safe) to create coloured or textured light. Don’t underestimate how useful a scarf can be!


  1. A leather jacket

If you can afford to invest in some clothing as well, think about picking up a leather jacket. The more vintage and weathered the better – a classic style always works well. This can be draped over a model’s shoulders, worn without a shirt underneath, or even tied around the waist for a range of looks. It will help to add a bit of bad girl sexiness with hardly any effort. Don’t worry too much about the size being wrong for different models – if it is a baggy fit, it will have that “borrowed it from my boyfriend” vibe.

  1. Clips, safety pins, and tape

If you have all of these items in your kit bag, you might think that you are beyond prepared. Unfortunately, this may not be the case. The reason behind this is the fact that accidents happen. Clothes get ripped, seams split, and holes appear. With safety pins and double sided wardrobe tape in hand, you will be able to repair any damage easily. Having clips and safety pins will also be a handy option for those shoots when the model is a lot smaller than you anticipated – and the wardrobe is all too big. Make sure that you keep any clips and pins out of sight: behind the model’s back and along seams are the best places. If any do happen to sneak into the shot, you will need to carefully remove or conceal them using Photoshop later on.


BONUS – a pair of elbow length gloves

Nothing says luxury like long white or black gloves, preferably in satin or soft leather. Red gloves give an undertone of sexiness, and lace or net can be very delicate and feminine (or punk with a little creative ripping). Gloves may not be an essential item that you would use at every shoot, but used in the right places, they can make a huge impact!


So, what are your essential shoot items? If you are a stylist yourself, can you suggest anything extra to add to the kit? Let us know in the comments!

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