Barbers Share Tips on Becoming a Successful Session Stylist

Published 16th Apr 2024 by Josie Jackson

Whether you’re obsessed with fashion, are looking for an opportunity to travel or just want to learn more about alternative routes into barbering, becoming a session stylist could be a great option for you. Here, three experts share their advice on how to get started…

Tariq Howes, owner of Avenue Barbershop, has worked with brands such as Chanel, Burberry and Louis Vuitton, and has a list of celebrity clients including Wes Nelson, Munya Chawawa and Liam Payne, to name a few. He says…

“My first tip would be to get messaging anyone you admire and ask if they need assisting on any shoots – even if it’s just to unpack and pack their tools on set. Seeing how this side of the industry works alongside a specialist in the field is well worth the time and travel.

“Speaking of messaging, I would also suggest contacting agencies that deal with session stylists, or that look after photographers, and see if they need any help with test shoots they have coming up.

“And along with both of these points, something crucial to consider is your availability. You need to be flexible and open to last minute opportunities. If a photographer responds with an opening for you, you need to be able to jump at the chance.”

You can check out Modern Barber's 10 Minute Chat with Tariq here.



Chris Foster, aka The Profile Guy, has worked with Gucci (you can take a look at his iconic Gucci buzzcut here), Dior and Versace, and has worked on films such as Suicide Squad, Argylle and Come Away. He shares…

“To get started in the session world, you’ll want to master the art of a portfolio – a collection that showcases your knack for creating not just stunning hairdos but capturing the essence of a complete look. You might be wondering, ‘But isn't our game all about the hair?’ That's true, but in the session stylist’s playbook, the rule is to focus on the overall fashion story, not just the hairstyle. So, start thinking outside the box. Collaborate with creatives from different fields – think photographers, fashion designers and make-up artists. Together, you can craft editorial imagery that speaks volumes. And remember, while social media is a great teaser, a dedicated website is your best gallery – a quiet corner in the bustling internet where your work doesn't just whisper, it sings.

“If you’re keen on breaking into the session styling scene, it’s not just about what you know, or even who you know, but who knows you. Follow their work, engage genuinely, and share content that mirrors the quality and aesthetic of the session world. By doing this, you’re not just showing off your skills, you’re signalling that you speak their creative language and share their vision. We're talking about crafting content that shows you're not just behind the chair but in the thick of creating art."



Miles O’Keefe has worked with public figures such as Adam Peaty and The Gentlemen’s Harry Goodwins, and has collaborated with brands including Sports Direct and Head and Shoulders. He says…

Learn your craft and your speciality – but also practise and educate yourself as much as you can. When you get to set you want to be prepared for any hair length or texture. So, while finding your speciality is important, it’s just as important to be well-rounded in all areas.

"Being nice and being reliable are two traits that are never taken for granted ­– being a nice person to work alongside goes a long way. Some days on set can be very long, but when working with like-minded, genuine people, it definitely makes the day go a lot smoother and helps get the best result for everyone.”


 Lead image: @miles_swyd @callumokeefe00  

Josie Jackson

Josie Jackson

Published 16th Apr 2024

Josie supports the team with content for the print magazine, website and social media channels at HJ. Having grown up in a salon environment (thanks to her hairdresser mum) and even working as a Saturday girl before getting her degree in English Literature, Josie feels right at home in the industry. Although she’s experimented with a few creative colour looks in the past, she always comes back to blonde, and loves all things hydrating and bond building.

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