Interior Photographer Alex Hayden Gives 4 Steps to Working with Stylists

Interior photographer Alex Hayden is known for his modern, clean interiors and his environmental food photographs for clients such as Target, Pacific Coast Feather, Best Buy and Hyatt Hotels. When we sat down to ask Alex about his working style he was careful to mention the continued collaboration and partnership with a handful of his favorite seasoned stylists. "Stylists are a key part of most of my shoots," says Hayden. "I cannot say enough about how wonderful it can be to get in a groove with a creative collaborator."  Alex gives us his tips on how best to partner with a stylist. 

Tips for Working with a Stylist:

1.     Involve the stylist early and often – It’s important to have my stylist involved from the earliest stages of planning for a shoot. Any conversations about creative direction between my client and me benefit from the inclusion of the stylist’s point of view as well. I like to treat my stylist as my valued collaborator, not my employee. Waiting until the shoot day (or even the prep days), to fill the stylist in is a missed opportunity.

2.     Provide a framework for creativity, not a list – Good stylists have the ability to create moods and solve problems in ways that might not occur to me. I like to give my stylists as much freedom as possible to express themselves, rather than be prescriptive about what they should buy, how they should dress the room, etc.

3.     Create a story, even where none exists – Even when the shoot isn’t really telling a conceptual story, it’s often helpful to create one together. When working on a beautiful interior, we can imagine together who might live there, what their lifestyle is like, how they were using the room. This approach helps us create images that have a sense of warmth and life and approachability.

4.     Trust Them– Since much of my work takes place in unfamiliar cities around the country, I often find myself in a position of having to work with a local crew. Although it’s always a risk to work with a new stylist, I find it’s best to trust them. They are the professionals, and I try to give them the same freedom and trust that I would a stylist I’ve worked with for years.

What Alex Values in a stylist:

1.     Confidence – Stylists that are the most successful tend to be confident in their vision, in their abilities. The client wants to feel that she’s in good hands with a crew who knows what they are doing; she wants to feel he can relax and trust the professionals. A stylist who is confident in their vision and approach is so important. A client (or a photographer) does not want to have to micromanage every styling decision.

2.     Flexibility – That said, there are times when a wrench is thrown into the works, and the stylist must have the grace and flexibility to roll with the punches, come up with alternate solutions. Good stylists arrive at the shoot very prepared for any scenario, with lots of options and back-ups, and the know-how to change directions if need be.

3.     Outside-the-box thinking – Especially with propping, it’s wonderful to find a stylist who has ideas that I haven’t thought of, or shopping resources that give them unusual props and interesting solutions.

4.     Overlapping Capabilities – Some of my favorite stylists to work with have multiple specialties. In this age of tight budgets, I really value stylists who can do double-duty: a wardrobe stylist who can also do light hair & makeup, or a soft-goods stylist who is also comfortable working with food & props. Stylists should take it upon themselves to keep learning and exploring and practicing, rather than staying within their limited specialty. 

Alex commonly collaborates with some of our staff stylists such as Allegra Hsiao and Rachel Grunig. Below are some photos from their most recent shoots. View more of Alex's work at 


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