Having a styled shoot is a fun way to add to your portfolio, network and ultimately open doors and opportunities that may not have been available otherwise! A styled shoot is where a photographer (or photographers) creates visual concepts to be captured that are not of an actual event, but are staged with various props, people and scenery. Creativity is able to come out in full force as you work to show off your full potential without necessarily worrying about a client’s preferences (like you would have to do at an actual wedding!)
Sounds fun, right?! If you are new to the styled shoot game, or want to up your game, here are six steps for setting up a styled shoot that will be successful and will allow your vision and talents to flow!
STEP 1: CREATE YOUR CONCEPT
First, decide what kind of wedding you would like to shoot! Would you like to execute a shoot where your couple is enjoying a rustic and cozy wedding at a barn, with woods in the background? Are you aspiring to capture a classy affair in an elegant ballroom? Think about who you want to attract (your target market) with this shoot, and then create a theme that will entice that audience! Many photographers create “mood boards” nowadays to help them with developing the theme, and put together objects, images and texts that will help them come up with their theme. Moodboard and Pinterest are great apps to use when creating mood boards. Think about colors, words and scenery that you will want to correlate with your theme!
STEP 2: FIGURE OUT THE FINANCES
How is this styled shoot going to get paid for, anyway? In the industry, typically the person planning the shoot is the one who will spend the money to bring it to life! To see an idea come to life often means investing first! When setting up a budget, think about all of the elements you will need to pay for — props, wardrobe items, etc. Some vendors may partner with you in exchange for use of your photos, but some may request a fee to use their facility or services. Therefore, it’s important to research every aspect that could potentially cost money when setting up your styled shoot! Talk with your vendors, as well, and create a financial agreement in advance about what pay will be implemented — if they are fine with exchanging services, or if they expect a bottom dollar!
STEP 3: CONNECT WITH COLLABORATORS
Next, you want to pick collaborators that will work well with your theme. Consider having florists, venues, makeup artists, hair stylists — all of the typical vendors that go into making a wedding day happen! It’s often a good idea to pick a “top three” in each category and start with asking your top picks if they would like to join you for a styled shoot. If they don’t respond by a certain date, then go to the next on your list!
STEP 4: NEXT COMES LOGISTICS
Planning logistics is VITAL to your big day. You want to be sure every aspect of your styled shoot is taken care of! Do you have models to use? Schedule times to meet with the models, the venue owners and plan meetings to take care of the details of the shoot. Create shot lists and a timeline for the big day (Miilu is a wonderful app to help with planning both and sharing the info with all of your collaborators in one location!) You want to ensure everyone is on the same page about when they need to arrive, what they need to bring and the schedule for the shoot!
STEP 5: SET EXPECTATIONS
Before you head into the styled shoot, you want to be sure every party involved clearly knows what their responsibilities are and the way the pictures will be utilized after the shoot. For example, everyone needs to know that they have to tag all vendors involved and provide images for use after the styled shoot. Model releases are also important to give to those who pose on the big day. The way to make sure there is no confusion when it comes to these expectations, and no one backs out the day of? Create a contract in advance.
STEP 6: DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE BACKUP PLAN
The importance of creating a backup plan for the big day cannot be underestimated, especially if your venue is outside! It’s important to have a bad weather alternative. Will you postpone if it rains, or will you be able to take the shoot inside somewhere at the venue? Take this into consideration when planning for your shoot!
The biggest way to have a successful styled shoot is to jump in and HAVE THE SHOOT! When the big day arrives, let go of the nerves and have a good time. You want to create a wonderful experience for everyone involved — and they will be much more likely to want to partner with you again if you were easy-going and fun to work with! When the shoot is over, you can then look into submitting your work to publications, or sharing your photos on social media.
We hope that following this six-step list will help your styled shoot go smoothly! Be on the lookout for more blog posts where Miilu will share more in-depth specifics about the in’s and out’s of styled shoots!