Monday, September 10, 2012


by Nick Nacca

Not long after Kodak filed for bankruptcy, I received a package from a friend. I was blown away to find it contained an Instamatic 304 outfit including three extra flashcubes. Imagine, four flash pictures without changing bulbs!!! I don't normally collect old gear, but our family had one of these when I was a kid and I loved it. Check out the super hip Even though Kodak invented the digital camera, they didn't have the vision of where the technology was going until it was too late.

Nick Nacca is a San Diego-based pro photographer I have worked with for many years and it's always fun. You can see his work at I think this commercial - and many like it - are good resources for stylists to learn what the times and fashions were really like. I remember taking an Instamatic to Europe in 1969!

Monday, September 3, 2012

What Digital Camera Will Make Me a Better Photographer?

by Gregory Case

I remember one summer evening when I was young, my Mom and Dad took me to a shoe store, and I bought a pair of new and popular Keds sneakers. After lacing them up, I felt these shoes would make me run faster. I remember I wore them out of the store and ran up and down the shopping center. I told my Mom, “Mom these shoes make me run faster!” (It probably wasn’t the shoes that night, but my added effort–and my belief–that made it seem so.) My mom, a wise woman, just smiled.

I often think of my Mom’s reaction when I am repeatedly asked in digital photography classes which camera they should buy to improve their photography. Like many of my students, when I started photography (this month makes my 11th year) I badgered many people with the same question. I needed a better camera to be a better photographer.

I once had an extended conversation with a teacher associated with a prestigious art/photography school; I tried several ways asking which camera she thought was best, and she repeatedly avoided the question. Finally overwhelmed, she said, “You are missing the point—it is only a tool; as your photography experience improves, you will grow frustrated with your current tool, as it will no longer serve its intended purpose. But until you improve your photography skills buying a new camera won’t make you a better photographer.” She looked at me, a very new, excited, and a very amateur photographer, and said, “Keep your current camera and become a better photographer first.”

Since, I’ve become a better photographer and owned many cameras, but I have continued to heed her advice. I learned to improve my craft and work my cameras until I outgrew them. But that is hard to do; it’s a lot easier to believe that the camera is holding you back, not the camera operator. Trust me, I know; I secretly still like to believe my Keds really did make me run faster.

Gregory Case is a professional photographer who served as workshop photographer for a weekend workshop I held several years ago. He is the author of the blog Traveling Behind the Seams. Greg was also the inspiration behind the original Photo Styling Workshops website!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

You Never Go Out of Fashion

By Evelyn Robinson

If the most succinct way to describe yourself and your style is eclectic, then read on.

The most important thing when finding a fashion or form to express yourself is to forge your own style. Fashion and style magazines may offer a good cursor to base your appearance on but you do not want to be a replica of a publications page and a designer’s whim. Combining every facet of your personality and every trait you want to express, it is possible to find your personal style.

'Being yourself' is a high school counseling manifesto that seems to have little meaning after being dumped by your first serious crush; but it is a prognosis for a happier future throughout your years. Your adult years throw multiple curve balls at you in the form of bad bosses, mothers in law and judgmental fashion tomes. Fighting your way through these battles with dignity is one hell of an achievement; and whilst you will never receive anything resembling a medal, pride is reward within itself.

Aged 17 and with your first serious boyfriend/girlfriend in tow, you kid yourself that you have bypassed the age where the acceptance of others affects you. The respect of your colleagues and peers is something that most people will healthily strive for throughout their lives.

An important part of reflecting your interior in your exterior is finding fashion, furnishings and accessories that reflect your personality. These pieces can be picked up anywhere, anytime. Unless you want to live like a mannequin in a window display, an eclectic approach to personal representation is for you.

Grow With Your Experiences

Your clothes and your home read like a story of your life. The important chapters of your life are represented in the things that you have attained and lovingly kept throughout your years. Unusual artifacts and ethnic nic nacs evoke blessed memories from your past. The ability to travel the world is a modern day blessing that we do not always appreciate. The experiences and knowledge that we gain from travel should be worn like a badge of honour and reflected externally.

These experiences invariably shape who you are as a person, where you have come from and where you are going. Don't represent other people's tastes, experiences and preferences; wear your own colours.

Hidden Treasures

Incredible bargains can be found almost anywhere. Unique and beautiful style is sewn into the fabric of society. Penny Bargains are a modern phenomenon that has advanced since the advent of the internet. Centralised distribution centres mean reduced costs for distributors and the savings are passed onto you, the consumer. A wide range of deals from 1p mean that necessities and treats alike can be purchased in a guilt free manner. Decorate your home with all kinds of weird and wonderful works of art.

Flags, bowls, statues and much, much more can be collected and proudly displayed throughout your home. Find pieces that have personal meaning to you and represent yourself truly in your surroundings and habitat.

Likewise, owning beautiful clothing does not have to bankrupt you. Your family and bank manager will be thrilled with some of the bargains that are available to you if you look in the right places. Forget what Gucci and Louis Vuitton want you to believe you need and want; find your own style. High prices do not validate quality fashion; fashion is only validated by the feeling of satisfaction that you enjoy. If you are comfortable and happy in your appearance this will reflect in your poise and personality. This is real beauty and one that those around you will truly appreciate.

It is akin to having the world's largest bargain store inside your home at your personal disposal. Use it wisely and use it smartly and your life can be made a lot brighter and lot more fabulous. With a globes worth of goods and fancies within your grasp it is easier than ever to express your beautiful individuality and the pride it embodies.

Being eclectic is a blessing, not a curse. Never feel as though you are restricted by the high street. Everything in the world can be used as influence and inspiration, you just have to open your mind to them and you can achieve your fashion and function goal.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The High Cost of Simple Propping

by Susan Linnet Cox

As my styling life has morphed into, as much as anything, a career of teaching, writing, and sharing, here is a typical event in the life of a stylist. Although I don’t recommend writing out your thoughts as I did; my career has succeeded because I am nice – and discreet. But here we go…

I was recently contacted by an East Coast public relations agency about my availability for a half-day photo shoot. My contact stated, “We anticipate it would be about a half day of pulling and a half day on set. Hard furnishings will be provided - we'd look to you for the soft furnishings and plants/accents only.”

I was interested but I do know that most possible projects don’t happen. Still I rushed back my estimate since it was only a few days away. Here is my estimate based on my day rate of $600:

1/2 day of prop shopping/prep $300 (includes returns after shoot)

1/2 day on location $300 (4 hours; if shoot goes over charge will be a simple $75/hour)

Prop estimate (cash or check advance) $400 (if less I will apply to the day rate in billing)

Transportation I can transport in my car. I will invoice at standard mileage rate for prop shopping and returns and travel to location

I think this is a pretty tight estimate. I hope it works for you. Also let know if you will need any crew snacks/water, etc. I could take care of those too, maybe an additional $50. If you agree, I will send an agreement form to be signed by the shoot date. Thanks, Susan

The next I heard back that the client had decided to skip styling and do it himself or herself. “At this time the client has opted to move forward with personally procuring the styling needs for the shoot in an effort to mitigate expenses.” No surprise; it happens often, especially as budgets are tight in “tough economic times.” But I started thinking. Was my props budget too high? I know that my day rate is pretty average.

Here is my response. (Although I think I was polite, I caution you NEVER to do this! Just be polite, say thank you and hope to hear about more opportunities in the future. In an email especially you never know how things will be interpreted. If I wasn’t such an old, semi-retired stylist I never would have sent this.)

Dear [Potential Client], Thanks for letting me know. I suspect the client was stunned to hear the budget - that much for a pillow and a plant and a tray of drinks! I believe my day rate is pretty standard.

I am interested in studying these responses since I teach a college class and write about the profession. The following is NOT a rant, but rather a potential blog that I would be interested in hearing your response to, when you get a chance. I'm sure you understand and respect the role of a stylist.

What quickly went through my head was multiplying everything by three. A coral pillow becomes two coral pillows but also maybe a turquoise and a yellow. We should have a coral throw. It might soften the back of one of the patio chairs. The plant becomes three large decorative clay pots (they are expensive, even at Home Depot) and a large plant (jasmine?), as well as some combo planter possibilities to set in the clay pots. A wooden tray of drinks becomes a wooden tray that I already have but also shopping for a smaller one. The drinks could be lemonade, wine, or martinis, though I would clarify the client's style and narrow it down two options. Lemonade is not just two glasses with lemonade; it is a pitcher, ice cubes, several half gallons of lemonade of differing colors, lemons to slice. For martinis I could bring my own glasses and some icy, chilled bottled water, a jar of olives, a box of toothpicks - two different styles of course.

What started at $100 in my own mind turned into $400 when I multiply my options. Since some of them will be returns the final amount will be much less, excluding the plants and beverages, naturally. But I need the adequate advance in order to avoid putting this risk on my own credit card.
The challenge - and the job of being a stylist is to try to get into the client's head. I can't just show up with a coral pillow and a planter. Invariably the client would say, "is that all you have? That's not exactly what I had in mind." As a professional, I say "of course not, how about this?"

In the end, if the client goes and buys the $30 coral pillow he or she has in mind they will get the shot. But they won't have the pampered feeling of having a stylist there to provide beautiful choices - choices they won't have even imagined (Did they think about the throw over the back of the patio chair? Do they know how large the clay pot needs to be to have the right proportion next to the gate? I'm thinking 12 to 14" diameter). And they won't end up with the high quality lifestyle photo they have in mind. Maybe that's good enough for them.

I do hope to have the opportunity to work with you in future. Thanks for listening, Susan

This ad agency, one of many clients that get away after they receive my quite reasonable budget, had written to me with compliments about my online portfolio. Some of those styled images accompany this post.

Friday, August 3, 2012


HOW TO HAVE STYLE by Isaac Mizrahi
Book review by Samia Lavenant

His name is often recognized thanks to his mainstream design deal with Target in 2002. The huge success of his designs that were purchased by a vast amount of households in America, paved the way for other collaborations between fashion designers and retail chains. That move blurred the lines of the known stigma that fashion is not affordable.

He has transitioned from designer to TV host and is known for his flamboyant personality. That is why when I saw his book on a shelf, I knew I had to read it. After all, a designer that has been able to endure the constant changes of the industry and still be relevant has to have lots of wisdom to share when it comes to style.

I found this book very easy to read, and focusing more on the quest of inner search to find your true personal style. But he is very insistent that in order to get there, you must do some work.

He points to what inspires you and even has a questionnaire that you must truthfully answer in order to begin the transformation.

What is surprising is that he points out the caution you have to have when being approached by a sales person, even though the industry has given him so much. The goal for a salesperson is to sell, which in some cases does not leave space for personal opinion and examining the true motivations behind a purchase.

He also makes a point to declare that not all fashion trends cater to all body types. As Mizrahi keeps pointing out throughout this book, each of the women he chooses to work with is going through a life change and has different personalities and goals. It is important to listen to your inner voice of comfort and experiment until you find what is right for you.

I think this is a great book if you will be specializing in Image Consulting or as a Personal Shopper as it gives you examples on how to develop a relationship with a future client and listen to their motivations and goals.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Made in the USA – The Ralph Lauren Olympics Controversy

By TNT Tauna
The Ralph Lauren U.S. Olympic Team Uniforms
When jobs in the USA are being outsourced to other countries during a time when our own economic situation looks so bleak and unemployment rates continue to stay at record highs, more consumers are taking a harder look at the products they buy and where they are made. This is especially true in the fashion industry where designers have been outsourcing their manufacturing practices to other countries since, well, forever. More people everyday are switching to clothing that is made in the USA rather than those that are made in countries such as China where workers are grossly underpaid and mistreated.
 One would think that if you are supporting Team USA in the Olympics by providing them with free custom designed uniforms you would also support our own economy by manufacturing them on US soil but apparently Ralph Lauren did not see it that way. ABC News revealed last week that Ralph Lauren manufactured this year’s U.S. Olympic Team uniforms in China. Is Ralph Lauren, a multi-billion dollar company, seriously trying to save a few bucks by making them in China? It has sparked such an outrage among politicians that Senator Harry Reid said “I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.” The Cut added “And then presumably sit around the fire drinking Budweiser, roasting s’mores, and gleefully watching the berets crackle.” But as The New York Times pointed out, Ralph Lauren has been manufacturing overseas or in Canada for over a decade and “took over the license for the opening and closing (Olympic) ceremonies in 2008.” So why all the controversy now? Well, for one a major media network brought a lot of attention to it which they did not do in the past and secondly I believe there is a general unrest among Americans for all the outsourcing that is going on by major corporations whose only concern seems to be making more profit rather than the welfare of the American economy. How can the U.S. be a major player in the global economy again if American companies don’t even support our own industrial capabilities?
In response to the backlash, Ralph Lauren released the following statement:

“For more than 45 years Ralph Lauren has built a brand that embodies the best of American quality and design rooted in the rich heritage of our country. We are honored to continue our longstanding relationship with the United States Olympic Committee in the 2014 Olympic Games by serving as an Official Outfitter of the US Olympic and Paralympic teams. Ralph Lauren promises to lead the conversation within our industry and our government addressing the issue of increasing manufacturing in the United States and has committed to producing the Opening and Closing ceremony Team USA uniforms in the United States that will be worn for the 2014 Olympic Games.”

While this may quiet some outcries, some people agree with Senator Harry Reid when he says they should just start over but Ralph says it’s too late. American Apparel disagrees. Their rep made a point to tell

“The American Apparel factory makes more than 50 million garments a year and that isn’t all for our stores. A huge part of the company’s business is wholesale and private label–we can basically make anything for anyone. Our prices are completely competitive, especially when you factor in the quality control and speed to market. American Apparel could start working on uniforms today and have them in London within 7 days. That’s what vertical integration is about.”

American Apparel tumblr
Founder and CEO of American Apparel, Dov Charney, even offered his factory to Ralph Lauren so that he could turn out the uniforms in time for the London Olympics, the rep told Fashionista. Although, I’m sure Ralph Lauren won’t be bothering with that.

The latest from says:

“On Monday nine Democratic senators, led by Sen Robert Menendez (NJ), introduced the Team USA Made in America Act which requires the USOC to ensure that “all ceremonial uniforms for the U.S. Olympic team to be ‘sewn or assembled in the United States with fabrics formed and cut in the U.S. or components knit to shape from yarns wholly formed in the US,’”WWD is reporting. The bill would require the USOC to provide justification if it can’t meet the stringent Made in America requirements.”

Right on Senator Menendez! I’m with you!

What’s your opinion about all this controversy? Do you think it’s necessary to write it into law?

This article was posted on Tauna’s blog TNTTauna ( on July 17, 2012. It was also posted on The Stylist Handbook. (

TNT Tauna is a Fashion Stylist and Blogger residing in Orange County, CA. Tauna started out as a model and soon found herself styling her own shoots. "Styling was a natural progression for me in my career. I really enjoy the creativity and variety that this job brings. I have learned so much from Susan's book "Starting Your Career as a Photo Stylist" and hope to further my studies of this awesome career choice."

Addendum from Susan Linnet Cox, July 26, 2012:
Today's Los Angeles Times featured an informative front-page article about Dayang, the factory that produced the Ralph Lauren Olympic fashions, along with garments for Macy's, DKNY, Banana Republic, and others. With a capacity that no U.S. factory is capable of matching (5 million suits a year), it's clear that the problem is much larger than just what factory was chosen by Ralph Lauren. The Olympics aspect just brought it to the public's eye. If only we could rebuild the garment industry in this country in addition to our complaints about "outsourcing."
Photo David Pierson, Los Angeles Times

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Revisiting: Fashion Stylist Devon Poer

This is a re-posting of a bio I wrote two years ago. Devon Poer has come even further since 2010 in her quest to share the fashion styling profession. We will be interviewing her and updating her story soon - so I wanted to start with my initial discovery of her exceptional talents...

I was happy to discover a new E-magazine for stylists called The Stylist Handbook. Not only is it a virtually-slick publication with lots of information for stylists of all types, it looks like a great outlet for publishing fashion spreads created as test shoots. Edited by stylist/journalist Devon Poer, this can be an outstanding resource for all of us in the “invisible” industry of styling.

The second quarterly edition [as of Sept. 29, 2010] is in the works right now. I look forward to seeing more articles and some cutting-edge fashion editorials.
Having a lot in common with our focus on sharing information about this career, Devon and I hit it off right away. I asked her some questions about The Stylist Handbook and her busy life.

Q. How did you decide to start the E-magazine? When?
May 2010! How I came to start the magazine... well I planned to do a book called The Stylist Handbook and after leaving my position as the Creative/Fashion Director for a travel magazine, I decided it was time to start my own magazine about my love of styling and to do something that wasn't being done and to help improve mine and others’ knowledge of the fashion styling world.

Q. What types of styling jobs have you done?
Editorial styling has been a huge amount of it, probably has something to do with me being a journalist as well, so lots of magazine work. I've done advertising campaigns for fashion and beauty, press imagery for celebrities and musicians, too. Also, a bit of wardrobe styling for celebrity and personal clients.

Q. How long have you been working as a stylist?
I've been a fashion stylist for about three and half years.

Q. What else do you do; is The Couture House an agency?
I run my company, which is more of a firm than an agency. Right now, I handle all the marketing, PR, and sales for Polaris Cosmetics, who is my sole client under The Couture House business development program. But my company also has a publishing department which is really a non-profit at the moment, we currently publish the e-magazine The Stylist Handbook. As well as a couple of blogs for fashion and beauty. My personal blog is, I work on it a lot as well.

Q. You live in LA, right? Do you think most of the work in LA is fashion and wardrobe?
I go from Orange County to LA to the Valley. I don't really feel like I live in one place at the moment. Honestly, it depends on the type of styling work. If you want to work in the entertainment industry, go to LA. If you want to work in the editorial/magazine side, I think New York would be better suited. There is work within fashion and beauty in Los Angeles. It’s just about getting connected with the right circles.

Q. Does the magazine take a lot of your time? Do you do it out of a need to share your knowledge? Serve the styling community? Or what?
Yes! And I do it for three reasons, because I like helping people, especially young minds or those in need of a mentor, and I want to develop myself as a better person, and lastly I'm in love with fashion styling and journalism. It’s all exciting to me, that’s why I do it!

Stay tuned for the updated Devon news, coming soon! Meanwhile, her blog and accomplishments can be viewed at

Monday, July 16, 2012

Layout History

by Susan Linnet Cox

This makeup advertisement appeared in a 1965 edition of McCall’s magazine. While the model’s hairstyle, headscarf, and makeup techniques date the ad to the era, the layout elements are the same basics we use today.

How many of the following layout aspects can you find?
  • Space allocation
  • Star Product 
  • Inset
  • Detail view
  • Headline
  • Caption 
  • Overprint type
  • Reverse type
  • Square finish photo
  • Knock-out photo
  • Eye flow
 This presentation is from "Photo Styling Workbook," available now as an eBook and coming soon in print!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


by Samia Lavenant


Coming from a well-known family, you would think that the author would have an easy path to a fashion career, but in this book, Sasha Charnin Morrison really goes into details about her personal experiences that are far from fabulous.

Being recognized from a young age for her personal style, she made her way into the industry with some hard-learned lessons, including a stint at Vanity Fair that ended in a modern day comedy like manner.

This book is a real investment for any aspiring fashion stylist as it includes many tips from well-known designers, stylists, and even some tips on how to present you as a real fashion styling professional.

For Charnin Morrison, having a great work relationship with a good tailor is the foundation of success. She points out the importance of fit in all her examples and pictures.

It is known that in all careers there is much to learn through experience, but this book certainly gives you an insight into how much work and all the loose details that are often glamorized by Reality TV in fashionista shows. It even explains the ordeals she had to endure when declaring some items in a customs form that required fast thinking and LOTS of patience.

It is a great guide to basic things that are overlooked at times such as a complete guide to shape wear, and how to remove different type of stains from different kind of fabrics.

I certainly do think this is a book to keep close to you if you want to go into fashion styling and to reference back to in case of doubt. It is a true investment and a core book to keep for times of a fashion crisis.

This is one of a series of stying book reviews published by The Invisible Stylist.

Samia Lavenant has been an outstanding student of mine this past year. I am sure her fashion style and curiosity will take her far - can't wait to follow her career!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gypset Style and ReWorking Fashion in HD

by Haley Byrd

This is an excerpt from stylist Haley Byrd’s entry in a 2011 contest offered by Lucky Magazine: My Career, My Way. Her fashion blog is Haley is a regular contributor to The Invisible Stylist.

From working in the lush tropics, trudging through snowy city streets or braving a sandstorm in search for the perfect ambience for a late night dinner with friends, the women who can experience and have it all have one thing in common, preparedness. As a Wardrobe Production Assistant and budding Costumer in television and features, I spend all my time with clothing and on the road. Taking up brief residencies in split locations, I quickly learned to think of my wardrobe as a Swiss Army Knife.
When I’m not working on a production, I’m traveling and spending every free moment I have building up my blog which narrates my passion of art, design, fashion, adventures in travel and street style. The last few productions I’ve been working have taken place in Hawaii. Ten-to-twelve-hour workdays are the norm and there is not one minute to primp in a mirror, touch up make-up, or wear questionable shoes. Given the nature of this position, comfort and practicality is key.

Habits of a Highly Effective Stylist
Moving around for work and pleasure has made me a devotee to the small, well-edited closet. I use a costumer’s trick by keeping my clothing safety pinned down on a muslin hangers and break up each hanger into various groups. I’ve divide the tank tops, skirts, shorts, jewelry, bikinis, intimates, scarves, belts and even dresses to their own hanger which allows me visually access all my inventory and to dress effortlessly.
I also maintain my own personal style commandments that keep me from getting sloppy and hitting new style lows, which can happen pretty easily even for a stylist and fashion enthusiast such as myself. I refer to these as my Six Styling Sins.

1. Laziness - Do Not Dress by Default

We all have certain items in our closet or footwear that are easy to wear or default to but know what those items are and stay away from them. For me in Hawaii, flip-flops are the eternal footwear but I look for cooler materials in closed toe variations to counter it.

2. Shopaholic - Less Is Truly More

I personally know I’ve dressed better out of a suitcase than I have out a walk in closet. Having a small edited closet challenges me to be more creative. Resoling a great pair of shoes, simple alterations and a quick dye to a garment help give your wardrobe the lift it needs.

3. Buyers Remorse - Know Thyself

By knowing your shape, color palette and likes you are more likely to buy what you need and get more full usage out of your current wardrobe. I always shop with a strategy and goal in mind. I’ll assess holes in my wardrobe and figure out the items before hand. Otherwise, I find most of my shopping to be fruitless. Lastly, I’ll get a majority of my key pieces tailored. A cheaper garment that has been tailored looks like better than an expensive ill fitted garment.

4. Overdoing It - Keep What You Love and Toss What You Don’t

I regularly scan and filter every element of my wardrobe and accessories on a monthly basis. I always keep the receipts and tags on unused items so I can return or exchange if I still haven’t worn them. For items that are no longer appealing to me, I’ll sell them online through a variety of great ecommerce sites or I’ll walk it in to one of the local Buy/Trade/Sell Shops. If I have a good group of items sometimes I’ll organize clothing swaps with some of my other stylish girlfriends and make a Saturday afternoon of it complete with food, laughter and fun impromptu fashion shows.

5. Never Changing - Always Evolve Your Style

Make it a weekly goal to try one new style out a week. Sometimes it’s in footwear, other times its something like boyfriend jeans, palazzo pants or a romper. This is the only way to get comfortable with something outside your comfort zone and to really keep your style evolving.

6. Brand Junkie - Don’t Discriminate

There are amazing finds and treasures in both fast fashion retail like Forever 21 to even signature collection lines with Target, Wal-Mart, and Payless. These are great venues to find items that can also have similar manufacturing quality that are just as good as some popular designer lines. I would also like to stress the importance of vintage clothing as well. Sometimes my vintage holds up better than my designer items and it’s usually already had thirty years plus on them too!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Learning On The Job – A Test Shoot

by Katelyn Groth

I was contacted through Model Mayhem by a photographer named Wira Maxwell from the LA area looking to do a test shoot in San Juan Capistrano. Since the location was far more convenient than LA, I was really excited to get to work with a new crew. Thus far, I have worked with photographers I know personally, which meant I had a good idea of how to interact with them. This was an entirely new experience for me - not only to work with strangers but to work with multiple professional models.

The mood-board that was provided by the photographer was not very specific and the only description I took from it was a "casual, classic, americana-vibe." The location was a beautiful campsite with horse corrals, dry river beds, and even a windmill. With that in mind, I pulled clothes from my personal collection and asked the models to bring some staples of their own. I didn't receive the official model line-up until the day before, so I planned to do a lot of pinning and praying that things would fit.

When I arrived at the hotel, I had a chance to get to know the models because the photographer had stopped to get us all food. Since we got a later start than we had planned, I felt pressure to get through the fitting process quickly. I had understood that the models would be shot in groups, so I coordinated two looks for each of them.

Keeping in mind that this was a lifestyle shoot and not an editorial or fashion shoot, I felt a bit less pressure to have them in exciting clothes. But I also wanted to show a bit of my own aesthetic (which wasn’t hard since they were wearing all of my own clothes) and have the looks be appropriate for the location.
We hit the ground running at Casper’s Park – literally. Since we ended up being way behind our projected finish time, the photographer was shooting at a very fast pace

There were 4 models and I was constantly fixing and pinning one while he was shooting the others. The place he was shooting was often quite a distance from my car – which meant I was helping the models change into their next looks and I missed some adjustments that should have been made while the pictures were being taken.

One of the models was wearing a pair of jeans that belonged to another model that needed to leave early. She quickly changed out of the jeans and into the only pair of pants we could find at the moment – which were the men’s pants. The photographer saw her and thought I had put together an additional look, so he took multiple shots of her while I prepped some props.

We had planned to shoot bathing suits on the beach but ran out of time so we dressed the remaining models in some interesting wraps provided by the makeup artist to keep them warm and used up the last bit of sunlight.

While much of the shoot didn't go the way I had thought it would, the crew was so fun to work with and I'm happy with the result. Not only did I get some great photos for my portfolio, but I learned that I need to take a stand and be more aggressive when it comes to "stepping in" to a shot to make it perfect. Only the stylist notices that smallest details that make the photos perfect.

Katelyn Groth is a stylist friend of mine specializing in architectural and lifestyle. Her work can be seen at

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Working with the Pro, Two Days of Styling for Cortex

by Samia Lavenant

I was very excited and nervous to be asked by my teacher Susan Linnet Cox to help her for a photo shoot, a “real” one. Her reassuring words about my capacity to do well helped encourage me to pull out my styling kit, which I had put together for last year’s Fashion Photo Styling class I had taken with her at Mesa College. As a student to be asked to help with a professional in the field is the biggest compliment.

It is a well-known fact that San Diego has limited opportunities for styling, so it is my personal advice to read as much as possible on the matter and keep on researching for outlets to reach out to. Once you have booked a job, give yourself plenty of time to drive to the shooting location and even familiarize with the location a day or two before so you arrive on time and present yourself professionally.

Sleep plenty the night before and double check you have all equipment and tools ready to go. It is also important to do research on the client you will style for.

On the day of the shoot I arrived before the rest of the crew, introduced myself to the client which in this case was a high end lab coat company called Cortex. I was very nervous as all the books that I have read on styling can’t prepare you for some real action. Once the crew got there, there was a meeting to go over the shoot details, scenes, what needed to be accomplished, and also review the client’s expectations.

This shoot involved product styling as well as some fashion styling. The objective was to show the details that differentiate the company’s coats such as the lining and stitching. There was a lot of steaming and we even went to a building close to studio/ location to shoot some exterior pictures. We had to take our styling kits with the basics and always be on the lookout for things that might not look good in a picture; such as pins showing or a tie that is crooked. I found it interesting that once you are at the shoot you have to be conscious of everyone’s space. There are all these common sense things that are required yet have to be learned, like making yourself indispensable, asking for permission from the photographer to “go in” and fix something only when it is highly necessary to achieve the final look.

I dealt with models and helping sort clothes options that would complement the lab coats’ features. I also assisted in product styling and had a chance to style a couple of shots which I hope I get to see soon. This was an interesting experience to just see how to style, tricks that I observed from Susan such as creating textures on the lab coats to show fabric. The shoot even included a dog that was very challenging to shoot since he eventually got tired.

For me, it was important to remind myself to keep on working and looking for things to help out in everything I could without overstepping on someone else’s job, like the photographer’s assistant or the makeup stylist. I very much enjoyed this experience and was keeping mental notes on what to do and how to do it. By the end of the two days I was very happy, and it was nice that the crew knew I was assisting and made me feel comfortable about it, like Ken West, the photographer. Another thing I enjoyed was the upbeat and familiar environment that all the crew displayed, the amount of stories that makeup artist Tracey Taylor told us was keeping us going with a good sense of humor.

I definitely left the shoot feeling excited about pursuing the “Styling Path” and thankful to have been able to be hands-on in a shoot. A teacher’s encouragement goes a long way and in this case I am still developing a networking system so I can further my experience.

Samia Lavenant has been an outstanding student of mine this past year. I was happy to have her assistance on this big project. We will post more results from the Cortex shoot once the product launch has occurred.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Moving My Doll House

Going through the process of closing Photo Styling Workshops after nearly six years and moving it to this blog has not been the least bit sad or painful. It's been refreshng! It reminds me of the systematic mental steps I take when I move - and I've moved a lot!

The last time I moved over two years ago (I'm in a very stable period now) I posted this story about cleaning my vintage doll house and I'll share it with you now.

In the process of packing for our move to a bigger place north of San Diego, I took my dollhouse down from the high shelf where it’s been perched. The dollhouse is the identical model that I had as a child. We found it at an antique shop a number of years ago. An antique shop! Oh well.

I took the plastic furniture out of the metal rooms and dropped it in some soapy water in the kitchen sink. Wiping out the rooms with a damp rag I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if it were so easy to clean our own houses? Take everything out and wash it, wipe out the rooms and then put it back all fresh and clean.

Then it occurred to me: That’s what moving is all about. Everything is dusted off, reorganized and sorted, packed in boxes, and placed in clean, new, empty rooms. I like moving. Soon I'll be styling some big new rooms and some familiar little rooms.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Guest Blog: A Photo Studio of my Own -- a Tutorial

by Corey Johnston of Relished Artistry
Friday, April 9, 2010

I work with some interesting people at the San Diego Opera. One of them, Susan Linnet Cox, worked at the table next to me, and together we cut out 52 pattern pieces for each tailcoat suit that we assembled. We cut 12 tailcoats, 11 pairs of pants, and 4 or 5 vests (I'm not sure)... We were busy bees!

But Susan also does something else as a career--she teaches photostyling. She shows others how to set up different photogaphs for product merchandising such as food, clothing, mannequins, etc. She actually has her own blog here, as well as her own website and teaching site!

The people you meet in your neighborhood! LOL!

I've picked Susan's brain over the time that we've been working together, and as soon as she starts her next photostyling class, I'm signing up! We exchanged ideas on marketing, the state of the economy, society, people, facebook... I'm not sure there was much we didn't talk about, actually! What a delightful conversationalist! I could talk with Susan for hours if it didn't take away from my podcast addiction! Haha!

Susan and I talked a bit about taking photos--I feel like I need some help with my own, and she was quite encouraging. She prompted me to take a step forward and dive into setting up a little photography studio of my own in the middle of my sewing space!

I bought some stretch velvet and made "body socks" for my dress forms, covering them up so they looked a bit more presentable. I bought both black and grey. Then I bought a background fabric that was neutral in tone and could pick up light from different sources. This picture below is the result!

It's a bit tough being able to take photos without much room, but I didn't have to invest in a bunch of lights either--I simply redirected the clip lights I already had and brought out my desk lamp to light up the backdrop. I'm much happier with the results of the photos over what I was doing before--this kind of set up seems to elevate what I'm doing somehow... I'm very excited!! Thanks, Susan, for the inspiration!!

Until next time--Live life with Relish!

Corey Johnston presents his gorgeous blog - and some fantastic costume projects at his blog Relished Artistry.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Director’s Choice: Studio Pull for Nicki Minaj Starships Music Video

by Haley Byrd of Fashion Rework, April 3rd, 2012

As I have mentioned before, I feel incredibly lucky to have worked with so many supportive, talented and amazing companies for the Nicki Minaj music video, Starships. Here are just a few of the great items that I got to work with from some amazing and very talented people and companies. I feel so fortunate to work with them and many of them created one of kind pieces especially for the shoot in color palettes of neon orange, neon pink and neon yellow which was established by Nicki Minaj‘s album cover make-up that Donald Simrock did.

Thief and Bandit make clothing and amazing jewelry from Richmond, VA. All fabrics are handprinted, which resulted in the perfect feel for neon tribal.

Thief and Bandit’s amazing necklaces, braided bracelets and turbans. Find out more about them here.

Pamela Love has the most INCREDIBLE jewelry ever. The director loved these pieces. They were so nice to work with and have so many other great pieces, check them out here.

Connie from Nutcase Jewelry makes amazing jewelry. She made a special necklace for Nicki Minaj called “Minaj”. Her pieces are the answer to any outfit that needs a lift. She is incredibly professional and incredible fusion of glamorous and bright, check out more of her items here.

Joy from J Dot Designs has come up these feather ankle cuffs. They seem like the perfect way to upgrade your favorite heels. I hope to work with her in the future and ever-expanding collection. Find more of her items here.

These are just a few great companies from that list and I look forward to giving more updates and more photos from the fun array of items I had to pull from when dressing the background for the video. I look forward to posting photos of my designs as well and I’m waiting for the video to drop before I do so.

Haley Byrd was an outstanding student in my Fashon Photo Styling course at Mesa College. She has gone on to work on wardobe for the television show Hawai'i Five-O and many more cool projects. Read the blog post onher blog Fashion Rework. Haley's website is

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Changes at Photo Styling Workshops

by Susan Linnet Cox, The Invisible Stylist

If you've been keeping up with the site Photo Stying Workshops you have heard that big changes are taking place.

After five and a half years of offering online courses in styling, videos, ebooks and live workshops, we are tired. And the economy is affecting our business. Not to mention the fact that we have taught food styling to nearly everyone in the world already. (I'll be updating the world map with more pins as a grand finale and sharing it with you soon.)

But I can't just quit - there is too much valuable material to share! So this blog will become the new home for all the educational materials and styling information we have accumulated for you. Watch for changes over the next few weeks including product pages and the Styling Tip of the Month to appear here at The Invisible Stylist.

Friday, May 25, 2012


by Guest Blogger Katelyn Groth

Family pictures are a necessary evil to me. They are amusing to look back at and to remember a specific time in my life but is that really worth the hassle of trying to get my kids to sit still or have our outfits match? Being a person that does not enjoy having her picture taken - my answer is no.

However, if there were no photos taken of my adorable children growing up, not only would I regret it later, but I'd imagine there would be some sort of grandparent mutiny. So, I decided to grin (literally) and bear it and come up with some concepts for a new kind of family portrait. With the help of our photographer friend Leif of Leif Brandt Photography, we came up with this Mad Men-eqsue shoot. I didn't want it to look like we were in costume so I used only clothing we had on hand and to avoid being too 'matchy' we simply wore clothing in the same color family. We rearranged our living room and set-up all sorts of studio lights to get this dramatic effect. The prop styling was simple because I wanted the unique art and clothing to stand out - along with our smiling faces, of course. That particular day my oldest son was ill and my youngest was, well, not having any of it. By embracing the element of surprise and taking an obscene amount of pictures, Leif caught some of the best action shots and we were thrilled with the results.
Our second attempt to re-invent the family poses was to gather around our piano and take our look back in time. I gathered many decor items from all over the house and tried to give the feel of an old saloon. Again, to avoid buying or renting costumes, I used our own clothing in different ways. For example, I wore my great-grandmother's pocket watch as a choker and turned my brightly-printed skirt inside out for the more subtle color. By adjusting the filters and color of the prints it gave me the freedom to plan the outfits on style and fit, not on color and coordination.

Another example of my endeavor to get away from the usual mall store portraits was to set-up a studio in my garage and convince one of Leif's clients that we could make it work. Thankfully, the Esparza's were great sports and we captured their rambunctious boys in a real-life setting. While I was convinced than none of the children were in one place long enough to get a decent picture, I was amazed and thoroughly pleased with the result. This is a real modern family portrait.

I'd like to thank Susan Linnet Cox for allowing me to be a guest blogger on the Invisible Stylist! Please share comments on how you've styled your family pictures to reflect your personality.

Katelyn Groth is a stylist friend of mine specializing in architectural and lifestyle. Her work can be seen at