Putting Together a Styled Shoot (for the Beginner Wedding Photographer)
Whether you are just starting out as a wedding photographer, or you’ve been in the business for years, putting together a styled wedding shoot is no easy task. For some wedding photographers, this task can easily seem daunting, and some will question if it is even worth the time and energy. We’ve compiled a list of how to best prepare for your styled shoot, and guarantee that it turns out exactly as you want it:
1. Keep in Mind What Publication the Shoot is Going For
This tip is extremely important. Before you start planning any of the details, make sure you understand the aesthetic and audience of the publication. For example, if you are planning to send this shoot to a Southern style blog, you need to make sure you capture everything that encompasses the “Savannah” bride. While that beach wedding shoot might look stunning, it wouldn’t be practical for this type of audience.
2. Plan Out a Clear Vision
As a wedding photographer, there are a lot of small details that can easily be lost in translation, so it is extremely important that you have an exact vision for this shoot. Make a Pinterest board with the exact vision you see this shoot having. Pick out the exact colors, style of the hair and makeup for the bride, the type of dress, location, etc. Having an exact picture of all of these details is going to make things so much easier when it comes to communicating with vendors.
3. Be Specific When Organizing Details with Vendors
Speaking of vendors, you probably are wondering how you are going to organize all of the vendors necessary for the shoot. The best thing to do is find vendors that are on the same level as you are. For example, if you are a beginning wedding photographer, you should try to find up and coming bakeries, wedding planners, and boutiques to collaborate with. This will help everyone involved to get exposure and further advance all of your companies. Once you have organized who you are working with, it’s important to be extremely clear about what you are looking for from them. If you want wild flowers in your shoot, you have to be specific in telling your florist just how many flowers, what colors, and even the specific types. Saying “wild flowers” can cause unnecessary confusion, so make sure you aren’t vague about any of the details.
4. How to Find a Venue
You might be thinking to yourself, “How on earth am I supposed to find all of these vendors for this shoot? And more importantly, how do I get them to agree to do this shoot?” The answers to these questions are much simpler than you think- just ask! When it comes to finding your venue, the most important thing to do is hustle. Start by doing your research: find every venue that could possibly fit the aesthetic of your shoot. Once you’ve gotten that list down, you’re going to want to go after the venues that will be easiest to get. Venues that have done styled shoots before or are just starting out will be easy targets. Nine times out of ten, if a venue has done styled shoots before, they will definitely be open to it again. New venues are the same way, they will want to get exposure just as much as you do, and this is a great way to make it happen! If for some reason you have your heart set on a venue that doesn’t fit the above categories, one strategy you may want to try is the “free photos” route. Go to the venue when it is empty, take some really nice quality images, edit them, and then send them to the manager. Accompany the images with a proposal for a collaboration, and you are all set! Something as simple as a few free images of the area can really make you stand out to the managers, and they will already be in a great mood from the free surprise.
5. How to Get a Dress and Florist
As you have probably guessed by now, you have to start by reaching out to vendors yourself. When it comes to finding a dress, it’s best to start out by hitting the local boutiques and mentioning how you are doing a styled shoot. You will probably be surprised to hear that many boutiques are open to this. Keep in mind that the dress you get from them, however, will be off the rack. That being said, it will most likely be a larger size, such as a 10 or a 12, so be prepared to bring clips and pins to hold it on your model. If this doesn’t work, websites, such as renttherunway.com, are always a great option for getting a great dress for a low price. As far as a florist goes, stick to the above rules (research, go in, explain your motive, etc.). Finding a florist that matches your style is extremely important, so do your research! Also, florists can end up being great stylists or planners, so keeping that in mind never hurts.
6. How to Find a Stylist/Planner
While venues, dresses, and flowers are a bit easier in terms of knowing exactly what you are getting, finding the ideal stylist or planner is a little bit more difficult. As mentioned for finding a vendor, the best thing to do is HUSTLE. Email everyone you know, send some links to your website, and invite them to come out and talk in person! Never come straight out with “I want to use you for a styled shoot”. Build trust and learn more about them first. Make sure they are a good fit for you, and then bring up your ideas in person. Keep in mind, if you are just starting out, you may have to be your own stylist or planner in order to gain a better portfolio.
7. Find Models Who Fit Your Vision
After sorting out all of the details with the vendors, you will need to decide on your models. Depending on your theme, you may want to find a real couple to shoot with, so that there is better chemistry between them. However, if you are unable to find a couple that is available and fits your aesthetic, you can always look for local models to shoot with. Maybe a model just recently changed the color of her hair or cut it, and needs new headshots for her portfolio, or a male model needs more professional shots. No matter the reason, local models are usually more than willing to score a gig and free photos.
8. Get All of the Help You Can
Putting together a styled shoot is a lot of work, as you can see, so get all the extra hands you can! Hiring a planner or stylist may be in your best interest, as they will be able to get all of the little details lined up that you aren’t able to since you are behind the camera. As much as we would like to, no wedding photographer is able to set up a place setting at a table and shoot it at the same time. You also are going to want to have a photography assistant to assist during the shoot. Especially when shooting outside, your time frame is limited, and having someone to help carry equipment, whether it’s a local photography student, your mom, boyfriend, sister, whoever, it will make the process so much smoother.
9. Post-Shoot Tips
Now that you’ve completed your shoot and are done editing your photos, it’s important to submit and share properly. Make sure to credit ALL of your vendors in each shot, as you will want them to do the same for you. Give copies of the photos to all parties involved, and encourage them to share these images on their personal web accounts. Sharing these photos on every outlet you can will only help for these vendors (and yourself) will only help to get more exposure for all of you. Who knows, maybe one of these vendors will be able to recommend you to a client in need of a wedding photographer.
Now that you have a clear idea of how to get your styled shoot put together, it’s time to put it in to action! Go ahead, reach out to those vendors and get started on this amazing project, you won’t regret it. Be sure to check out one our styled shoots to get a picture of what the final product could look like here: http://vitor-lindo.com/wormsloe-styled-wedding-photos-savannah-photographers/
Thanks for reading Putting Together a Styled Shoot (for the Beginner Wedding Photographer) blog post! Check out my other articles for photographers like Top 5 Ways to Find An Affordable Wedding Photography Assistant, Why Photographers Need A PDF Pricing Guide, Contax 645 Tutorial #3 | Camera Settings, Film Choices, Metering, and Posing, Contax 645 Tutorial #2 | Camera Accessories, Film Loading and More, Contax 645 Tutorial #1 | Hybrid Wedding Photography Equipment, and many more in our Journal page.
Check out some of my wedding photos at The Market At Grelen Wedding | Virginia Wedding Photos, Delta Plantation Wedding Photos, Belmond Maroma Cancun Wedding among others. And some engagement photos as well like Wormsloe Engagement Photos and Savannah Engagement Photo Session | Forsyth Park to name a couple. Also, go to our General Wedding FAQ and our Engagement Session FAQ posts for information about how to prepare for your photo sessions. We have other posts that can help you in your wedding preparations in our Journal Page. Don’t forget to check out my homepage for my newest wedding photography work.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions, and be sure to follow us on social media for the latest shoots and blog updates!
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