Updated: Feb 28
What is a styled shoot? A styled shoot is when a bunch of vendors collaborate together to create a beautiful photo shoot. They are common within the bridal industry. Usually the photographer is the host (the one who organizes everything). Some vendors do collaborations for pay (like florists who ask you to pay the wholesale cost to cover material) and some vendors do it for free (usually called Trade For Pictures, or TFP).
What is the purpose?
To build your portfolio. These shoots are nice because you can control what your model looks like, the lighting and the style of the image. This is great for filling the gaps in your portfolio.
To build relationships. Vendors are always referring clients to other vendors. Becoming friends with them will lead to referrals.
To get experience. If you are not yet comfortable photographing a real bride and groom, build your confidence by working with models first.
To get attention. See Instagram strategy below
Say 3 vendors are involved in this shoot: you (photographer), a florist (with 1,000 followers on Instagram) and a model (with 1,500 followers on Instagram). When the florist posts your photo and tags you, all 1,000 of her followers will see your photo! If it’s a good photo some of those people will click to your account and follow you. Some of those people will book you. That is a lot of free advertising! (***It’s important that you collaborate with vendors who have lots of followers.)
It’s getting your work in front of more people. For the viewer, seeing someone else post your photo is like reading a positive review. Our clients need a lot of social proof.
Also, if you took an amazing photo, people will click on it. None of my real clients would ever wear Disney’s COCO makeup for their wedding so I had to create a situation to photograph that. The photo at the beginning of this blog is one of the top 3 photos on my Instagram feed with the most interactions and likes.
👇 STEPS TO CREATING A STYLED SHOOT 👇
Pinterest. Enough said? Dream up anything you want! Have you always wanted to photograph something about birds and brides? Create a shoot where you can combine those things! Don’t hold back – this is the time for extreme dreams!
2. PREPARE / BUILD
Once you know what kind of shoot you are going to create, start looking for vendors to involve. Reach out to the vendor and ask if they do collaborations. It’s really easy!
I recommend using contracts! Some vendors are flaky and will back out if they haven’t signed an agreement to be there. Even for vendors you trust, having a contract makes you look more professional and it allows the vendor to have more confidence in you. The contract will also be a release form so that you have permission to post photos of their face/product.
Make sure you get the vendor’s email address, phone number and Instagram so that contacting them is easy and you can send photos directly to them.
Here is the shoot brief I use for all of my styled shoots. This goes over the details about what the models will wear so they know what base clothing to bring, who is doing their hair, whether to shave their legs or have their nails done. It also talks about the schedule so everyone knows where and when hair and makeup is happening. All you have to do is share the document with the vendors.
3. DISTRIBUTE INFO
This can be done before or after the shoot. Because it is always better to provide information before people come asking for it, I recommend doing this before the shoot.
Shoot Information Doc. Here is the Information Doc I use for all of my styled shoots. It keeps all the info about the shoot – overall vibe and vision of shoot, vendor contact information, who brings what, etc… All you have to do is share the document with the vendors and they can coordinate details with each other if need be. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1a0YDBG52eO4BqDB5IlrQsrhRhs-3ItTqbqk3E0ToIFY/edit?usp=sharing
The day of the shoot is really important. It is up to you to build good relationships with these vendors. Be gracious to them when you pick up the items you will be photographing. Be prepared to give them a date for when the photos will be delivered. Ask them if there are any specific photos that they would like. Make them happy.
Treat your models like royalty! Seriously! You will be stressed and thinking about so many things but you have to treat your talent well. Emotion will shine through your model’s eyes. How you run the environment of your shoot will influence if they feel unimportant, sad, nervous, excited or appreciated.
5. SEND PHOTOS
Send the photos through a professional system like PASS GALLERY so it’s easy for them to download the images. It’s the easiest and most professional way to deliver photos to clients! Sign up for PASS GALLERY here: http://picti.net/DvXIY
When you send the photos, send the list of vendors in the same email. It makes their lives easier and – guaranteed – it will cut down the number of times people ask you for the vendor list. Remember, one of the purposes of a styled shoot is to get featured on other accounts, so make sure it is easy for them to find the vendors and tag them. The last thing you want is for the dress designer to post and not tag you.
6. SAVE INFO
Save the info!!! You will never be able to remember all the vendors and Instagram names and info about each shoot. So instead of scrambling around to find details when you want to post, get organized and save it all in one place.
I have a Google Folder called “Styled Shoots” with subfolders “Dream” “Current” and “Completed”. When I’m dreaming of a shoot I add it to the document in the “Dream” folder, which is basically a bucket list of shoots I want to do.
When the shoot starts becoming a reality and I’m currently working on it I create another folder within the “Current” folder and I name it whatever the shoot is called (ex: Cozy Winter Shoot, Butterfly Shoot, Pink Leather Bridal, etc…). I create the Info Document and the Shoot Brief in this folder and share that with the vendors.
Once the shoot is completed (after I have sent the photos out), I move the shoot folder into the “Completed” folder. When I need to find the Instagram tags I know exactly where they are.