We think one of the best things about being a creative in the wedding industry is being able to collaborate with other creatives on styled shoots.
It's when all the reasons you went into this business come together: creativity, art, really cool people...it's all there in a styled shoot and we are pretty much obsessed.
But aside from being really, really fun, styled shoots are also one of the top ways we get our name out there and show our ideal clients who we are and why they like us. They have been an important part of our brand development and marketing strategy. If you are new to the industry and thinking about starting to plan one, we want you to do it!! But we also don't want you to go in blind and make all the mistakes we did so read below to get our best tips for planning your own styled shoot.
Photo below: Karra Leigh Photography
1. Give yourself a (seemingly) ridiculous amount of time:
Especially if it's your first or second shoot, you don't want to feel rushed in this process. If you're a photographer or florist and wanting to plan your own shoot as opposed to being a part of someone else's, having time to plan and select all of the details without feeling the pressure of time is so important!
We have, at times, spent months choosing the perfect vendors, contacting them, making mood boards, pinterest boards, scouring the internet for the perfect details...most of the time this process is best when you have the time to feel good about everything.
It you're wanting to plan a shoot for the spring, I would suggest starting to think about things in the fall. You don't necessarily have to start asking people to join until a little later, but start planning the overall vision and thinking about who you want.
2. When planning, think about your ideal client...
...and plan something that they would love.
Because styled shoots are marketing tools and a big way you communicate your brand, make sure to think about what your ideal client will be looking for (or start by thinking about who your ideal client is). What do you want to create as a creative? What gives you joy and pride in your craft? Your ideal client will want those things too. Don't create something just because everyone else is, or because it's popular now. If you are putting your work out into the world, you will get clients who ask you for what they see on your instagram, website and Facebook. Don't put anything out there you don't want to be inspired by again and again and don't put anything out there that your ideal client wouldn't like.
This also applies when other vendors ask you to collaborate with them. Don't say yes just because it looks fun! Even though it's so tempting (we did this sooooo much when we first started), be intentional about which projects you jump in on. Make sure the vision and vendors align with your brand and where you want to go.
3. Think about where you want it published:
It's important to think about where you want the shoot to be published in the early stages of planning. Weddings blogs have an array of different styles and aesthetics and if your shoot doesn't align with them, they won't pick you up. A lot of blogs have specific rules about what the shoot has to have in order for them to pick them up, so make sure you know what those are when you start to plan so that you don't have to rush to get those in at the end, or end up rejected because you don't have an invitation suite.
4. Find an amazing stylist:
Unless you are planning on going into styling with your business or your shoot is super small, save yourself a lot of work and get a stylist! We love styling and have done it a few times, but unless it is a special shoot we love working with a stylist who specializes in their craft. Spending hours planning the shoot, creating your part as well as thinking about all the little details can be overwhelming! It also makes the day of process so much smoother + it's always a good idea to work with a lot of vendors (as long as they make sense with the aesthetic) because that means more exposure for the shoot.
5. Find a unique location:
One of the make or break factors of a shoot is definitely the location. If you have the most beautiful shoot planned, with the perfect vendors and all of the details in place, but you don't have a good location, your whole shoot will end up looking bad. One reason is lighting. If you don't think about the lighting of where you are going to shoot, it could end up compromising the feel of the pictures. You don't want a light and airy shoot to be in a dark wood cabin at sunset, just like you don't want a moody shoot to be in a field of flowers in the morning.
6. Get an experienced model or couple:
Some people say you should always use professional models, and while we definitely don't agree with that, we do think that when thinking about who you want to model, take into consideration how comfortable they are behind the camera. Some couples have been in multiple shoots + their wedding and are naturals. You definitely don't want to have to worry about micromanaging whoever your models are the day of the shoot.
7. If you want something- ask!
When starting to plan, it can be a little intimidating reaching out to other creatives you want to be a part of the shoot. We have found that the best way to reach out is to create a mood board of what you're envisioning to send over with your email. This helps them to get excited about the vision. Be sure to explain your goals and how you will get there as well as who else you have on board. If they say no, no worries! Have a list of a few different vendors one each category and reach out to them one at a time. It's best to start this process as soon as your initial planning is done so that if one takes a few days to get back to you, it won't make a big difference. Something to think about when inviting vendors to collaborate with you is the timing of your shoot. In the fall, many vendors are wanting new material for the yearly winter renaming of their website. In the spring, many are excited about the coming busy season and wanting to get their creative juices flowing and will be more likely to say yes.
8. Be prepared to spend $$:
This is a very important reality check when planning a shoot. It's easy to think that if everyone offers their services for exposure you won't have to spend that much, but the truth is shoots are an investment in your business. We consider them marketing and have a budget for them at the beginning of the year so that we know what the effect on our wallets will be. Sometimes a vendor will want compensation for their time or materials and this is definitely fair, especially if they are well known or it is the busy season. Certain vendors will have more cost when it comes to doing a styled shoot and some details are not able to be returned and it's important to keep those things in mind.
9. Submit to multiple blogs:
When submitting to blogs it's always a good idea to have at least 3 options to choose from. Odds are, you're not going to be published to the first one you submit to, and that's okay! Being patient and persevering is so important when in the process of getting published. 9 times out of 10 it will happen, but you will probably have to wait a bit. Which is so hard! We totally get it.
A lot of blogs don't want the content to be too pervasive on the internet when they agree to publish so be sure to communicate that to your vendors when they get the final pictures. Only post a few sneak peaks in the months leading up to the feature to make sure it's more of an exciting surprise for your followers and clients!
10. Have fun!
Have so much fun! This is a learning process and you will most likely do things your first time that you wouldn't do on your 10th time, but that's one of the best things about owning your own business. The ability to try and fail and get better and better without the fear of being fired ;)
Enjoy the creative process, make friends with other wonderful vendors and be true to who you are as a brand and you can't go wrong!
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