How to Plan a Styled Shoot
My first styled shoot was planned using the post by Jessica M Wood Photography in LA. While her post was invaluable to me. I have been able to learn a few things on my own, things that are maybe more relevant depending on the market you are in. My styled shoots exist out of Vancouver. Some of this post will be regurgitated from hers, but what I learned from actually doing a styled shoot will be highlighted. She has some great visual aids so make sure you check her blog out too.
Brainstorm. Pin ideas on Pinterest so you can share with vendors when they ask. Finalize your ideas. You need a theme, a colour palette. You need all cohesive ideas. Whilst remembering at the end of everything, your idea could evolve into something entirely different. The outcome can depend on how your vendors see your vision, the weather, your designer, what the vendors can actually offer and the space you find.
Research + Vision
Research vendors, find the ones that you think will not only say yes, but the ones who have a style similar to your vision. If they don’t, you may end up with an entirely different look. This happened to me with one of my vendors in another shoot. It was very difficult to incorporate their product into the shoot, and I had to find a way to compensate for what I was now missing since it was a main ingredient and even though it didn’t fit, I still had to shoot their product, to give them photos and credit I had promised.
My first point of contact to vendors is always email, but I don’t see why, in person or phone wouldn’t work. I found email the easiest and least time consuming and met with vendors in person or on the phone once they came on board. Jessica posted her initial email on her blog. You can check that out. Some vendors don’t need that much information first off, but some might, especially if they don’t know of you. I also found being complimentary of a vendors product or service was very helpful. So when I adore a product, I make sure they know it - in my first email.
Create shareable spreadsheets with the vendors name, business, contact info and what they are offering. You can also include links to to your inspirational Pinboards. Giving a vendor something visual helps to keep things cohesive.
Date, Venue + Delivery
Try and and find your venue first. You can’t plan much without your venue. Once you find your venue you can nail down your date. Always have a few dates in mind. Monday’s seem the be the easiest date to get since most wedding vendors take Mondays off. Do keep in mind this may also increase your travel costs. You need to pick up and return items and if vendors are closed on Monday you may have to go a day or two early to pick it up, and then drop it off the day after. Some vendors will bring the item to you. You ALWAYS say yes to this. The less non photography things you have to do, the easier the day will be.
I’ve had potential vendors try and charge me, but you can always find a vendor with your vision who is willing to put in the same effort as you. This is team building, networking and marketing. You don’t need to pay for your styled shoot. Ever.
Find a bride and groom. This can be the most challenging part since styled shoots are often on a weekday. For most couples at least one of them works weekdays. You can go through a modelling agency, but I find that using real couples is more authentic and beautiful. I like to capture their authentic love. Married couples are the best. They really know each other. During a cold wintery styled shoot I had a groom keep touching his wives arm whenever she got goosebumps because he knew they would go away if he touched her. It’s that kind of tenderness you want to convey. Real love gets published.
Always, always try and meet up with your vendors. Your vision will be more cohesive, you will build a stronger relationship with the vendors. The day of will be less stressful because you’re not meeting 10 new people.
Day off Social Media
Post vendor links + handles and on social media before the shoot, during the shoot and when you get home. Be grateful to the vendors on social media. They worked hard for you.
Know before your shoot, what you need to capture. Have a shot list and check it off at you go. So much is happening and before you know it the light changes. In my opinion details are best shot in natural light get those right off the bat, while the designer is setting up, unless you are also the designer then shoot as you are setting up.
Return everything you borrowed the day of or next day. Be punctual to appointments.
Research the blogs you’d like to be posted on. The ones that fit your style and theme. Every photo blog has a different criteria so you need to size your photos and pick your photos according to the rules of each blog. Some blogs are exclusive and some are not. Make sure you read the fine print. In case of rejection, some blogs will give you feedback if you ask nicely. Always ask for feedback, that’s how we get better and always be nice to the Bloggers. Don’t burn bridges. If you treat them nicely, you still have the chance to be published with them one day. Remember they get hundreds if not thousands of submissions. It’s not that your shoot is bad, it’s usually just not what they are looking for at the time.
Social Media When Published
Get it out there! Once the blog is published, publish it on your blog. Put it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, even YouTube! Get it out there, and give a should out to all the vendors including handles and or links to their websites AND compliments of course!
Always say thank you to your vendors and to wherever you get featured. These people are part of your business. They are valuable to you and you to them. Treat them as your team.
Deliver the photos as promised to each vendor. I always deliver upon publication. I don’t release anything until they are published so the publishing blog can do the first reveal. You don’t have to do it this way, but it’s nice to leave it as a surprise.
And that’s it. I hope this helps you! I love doing styled shoots, so I am happy I can share this information with you! I hope you have a great time planning your own!
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