Meet The Stylist – Peta Rudd

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We caught up with Peta Rudd – mega talented Canberra-based stylist and photographer. 

How would you describe what you do?

I’m a professional, freelance stylist and photographer. I specialise in fashion, portraiture and beauty in the areas of editorial and advertising.

How did you make your start in styling?

During Uni, I developed an interest in the styling aspect of creating imagery and would frequent Melbourne’s Chapel Street Bazaar to source props for my photoshoots. It was much later, however, in 2006 when  an acquaintance suggested I should try styling – based on my creative skills and interests. So I started working as an interior stylist for a couple of Sydney based publications. It had been right there in front of me for 11 years before the penny dropped, but at the time I studied, styling wasn’t a common or obvious career choice.

 Meet The Stylist Peta Rudd

You have a BA degree in commercial photography – how has this informed your work as a stylist?

Having an understanding of how an image is perceived through the lens of a camera has given me an enormous advantage when it comes to my work as a stylist. I know what the photographer is seeing and what they are looking for in terms of creating a strong image – usually from a design and composition perspective. It helps to see things from both sides of the camera. A lot of young stylists aren’t fully aware of the scope of the role. It extends far beyond choosing nice clothes and dressing a model. It’s about creating interesting lines and silhouettes and sometimes bringing tension into the frame. It’s about how the clothes are sitting on the model and how she poses to best showcase the silhouettes and design features. It’s also about referencing certain eras or other inspiration and putting your own stamp on it. It’s many things, not just one.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

The most challenging aspect of my work is creating engaging content for social media. It’s an essential part of business today however it’s a skill that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Marketing is psychology and strategy based so I find it incredibly interesting. It’s something I’m researching at the moment so that I can turn it into a strength. With any challenge, you just have to push yourself. You have to familiarise yourself with the necessary skills to overcome that challenge. Without challenges, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to grow.

From a styling perspective, you can face challenges in the sourcing process. You might not find what you are looking for, it might be out on loan for another shoot or the project may not be enticing enough for the label or PR company. This is something that naturally resolves itself over time. The more work you produce, the more experienced you become and the bigger publishing titles you will work with. I think at that point, things become a little easier – but it can be very difficult when you are starting out. You just have to think outside the square. Be resourceful and call in favours where you can. Beg, borrow and steal is the motto – although not literally of course!

Best advice you’ve ever been given? 

‘Follow your dreams’ – I think this holds a lot more value than many people realise. We only live one lifetime and we spend the majority of that time at work or asleep. If you have the opportunity to pursue your dreams or even if you have to fight hard to get there then I say go for it! The journey can be hard, particularly for creative’s but once you get there the reward is more than worth the challenges you have faced. I’m so lucky to be able to pursue my two passions for a living. So many people find themselves stuck in a role they are unhappy in but don’t have the opportunity or support to do anything else as it boils down to survival and paying your bills.

Meet The Stylist Peta Rudd

Most prized item in your wardrobe?

I have some amazing vintage pieces in my wardrobe that I’m fairly attached to. One in particular is this amazing lilac dress with incredible embellishments. It looks like something Miu Miu could have designed.

On a personal level, my most coveted item is a vintage silk knitted scarf that belonged to my great grandmother. The scarf is about 100 years old now so I’m pretty sure she would have worn it in the 1920s or 30s. It looks like a Missoni scarf and holds a lot of sentimental value.

Highlight of your styling career so far?

I’m not sure there have been any standout highlights just yet, as I’m still relatively early in my career, however, I have certainly been challenged.

I was recently booked to style 25 bridal looks for a film that was shot on the same day and location as a bridal editorial that I styled and photographed. We had 5 models, an army of makeup artists and hair stylists. It was an intense 12 hour day and I think we had about 5 styling assistants but I was still overstretched. It made me realise my own limitations when performing two roles as one person. I’ve since taken on board two styling assistants of my own and photographic assistant.

 

Meet The Stylist Peta Rudd

Can you describe your style in three words?

I favour comfort above all else! I like clean silhouettes, quality (*note luxury!) materials and pieces that don’t date. I also love mixing different textures. I’d probably describe my style as ‘classic with a twist’?! although it’s actually very hard to define your own style – particularly as a stylist because you have such a broad appreciation for multiple aesthetics.

I am a little more adventurous with my styling aesthetic – I love creating luxurious, modern looks with a vintage influence. So, ‘Mod Luxe x Vintage’!

Your advice for any aspiring stylists?

My advice would be to be realistic about what the role entails. You need to be able to lead a team with creative direction, work well within that team, help the photographer create strong images and you need to be on set during a shoot. You need to be observant of the minor details while shooting – in particular things that can be easily adjusted on shoot day that could be problematic during the editing process.
Styling is physically demanding work. Despite working with beautiful models and designer labels, the role itself is not glamorous. You need to be super organised, well connected and efficient. There can be a lot of running around, driving and email communication trying to bring all of the elements of a project together. Depending on the scale of the project this can take weeks of preparation. It’s very demanding work but it can also be incredibly rewarding.
Meet The Stylist Peta Rudd
If you are looking to gain experience, connect with someone in the industry but do your research before reaching out. Get familiar with their work, follow them on social media and when you reach out, tailor your email and make it personal and professional. It’s the finer details that can separate you from your competitors. The industry is increasingly competitive and styling is very detail focussed. All aspects of how you present yourself should reflect that – right down to your written language.
Gaining experience as an assistant gives you firsthand experience about what the role is really like and also provides you with an opportunity to connect with likeminded people. A great assistant is always thinking one step ahead of their mentor and anticipating what they might want help with before having to ask. Work hard and be respectful of your mentor. Don’t overstep the boundaries. Don’t offer your opinion unless asked.

Best piece of style advice?

Think of style and cut first and always choose clothes that flatter your figure. We all come in different shapes and sizes and what suits one person may not work for another. It’s about getting to know your body and what works best for you. I personally prefer to choose quality over quantity – that way you get longevity from your wardrobe and you can slowly build from your core pieces and start to add some fun trend based pieces from there.

Also, all hail the mighty gods of Pinterest! It’s a great place to get to know your personal style. After a while, you will start to notice patterns in what styles, silhouettes, colours and materials you lean toward. It’s a great resource and one you can refer back to over time.

What’s next for you?

I have some pretty exciting projects on the horizon. Some are under wraps for now however, I will be styling a short film for a Tropfest submission which I’m pretty excited about! It’s very fashion focussed with lot’s of rich textures and embellished details and a gorgeous jewel tone colour palette. I’ll also be styling and shooting a bridal campaign in September.

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You can check out more of Peta’s work at www.petarudd.com

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