the friday five - styled shoots :: nashville wedding photographer

As I hope most of you have seen, I posted earlier this week with images from a recent styled wedding shoot I did in Nashville. So, I thought for this week's Friday Five, I would give you some really good reasons for organizing your own styled shoot and tips for doing so. Much of the information here will apply to all wedding vendors, so feel free to read on you wedding planners, florists and bakers!

One question I've heard alot of lately, especially from those not in the wedding industry, is what exactly is a styled wedding shoot? A styled wedding shoot is not an actual wedding, but rather kind of a mock wedding scene, usually focusing on reception details, and created by wedding vendors, often from their own inspiration and to provide inspiration to others. I realize this isn't going in the Webster's dictionary anytime soon, but hopefully, it will give you a bit of an idea.

Now that you know what we're talking about, here are my top five reasons for organizing one of your own:

1. It gives you the chance to practice without the pressure of a real wedding. Try out some new poses. Practice some lighting tips you learned in a recent workshop. Get used that brand new lens. Work different angles. Don't just go through the same motions you normally do on a wedding day. Use this opportunity to prepare for your next real wedding. 

2. It allows you to connect with other vendors. Networking could possibly be the most important reward of coordinating or participating in a styled shoot. You build relationships. Relationships are necessary to grow your business. And everyone benefits from a styled wedding shoot. Your fellow vendors get images to use on their websites and promotional materials, you get great images of their products and designs to use in your portfolio, and you all exchange business cards and refer future clients to one another. And maybe even make some new friends in the process. Win. Win. Win.

3. You can create a styled shoot with little to no money. But it does take some time. You may email five florists before you hear back from one that is interested. Seriously, folks. The good news is that many other wedding vendors are willing to contribute their products or services in exchange for your images and the networking opportunity. For our recent styled shoot, we were able to get the cakes, the design service, the dress, the suit, the jewelry, the venue, the stationery, and the hair and makeup styling at no cost. Most of the money spent went into the decor (and most of it was DIY with items from Hobby Lobby).

4. It gives you the opportunity to photograph the kind of wedding you want to photograph. Jasmine Star talks about photographing t-ball weddings like world series weddings. The idea is that if you want to photograph the world series weddings, you have to start photographing the t-ball weddings like they are the world series. This is your chance to create your own world series style. What is your dream wedding to photograph? What are the colors, the theme, the venue? What do the bride and groom look like? What kind of dress does she wear? If you haven't gotten that wedding yet, why not create it yourself?

5. It's a great opportunity for publication. Although some blogs and magazines prefer only real weddings, many will consider styled wedding shoots, or at least individual detail images, for publication. Try doing something different, something you haven't already seen a million times in all the magazines and on all the blogs. You're more likely to stand out from other submissions.

If you're now convinced and are ready to go out and organize your own styled shoot, here are just a few tips that I've learned along the way:

  • Plan in advance. Start contacting vendors that you would like to participate 4-6 weeks before you plan to have the styled shoot. Choose a date during the week, preferably Tuesday - Thursday. Weekends are a no-no, as you and your fellow vendors likely have weddings. Fridays are spent on last minute preparations for those weddings and Mondays are spent recovering.
  • When contacting vendors to participate, whether by phone or by email, always let them know how they are going to benefit from participating. Many people may not even realize that their participation with help them unless you tell them.
  • Be sure to clearly communicate your design ideas to any and all vendors you are working with. You want everyone to be on the same page.
  • If you are going to use a wedding dress or suit, try to find local designers in your area. It's much easier to get a dress from an actual designer than it is to get one from a massive dress shop.
  • Need models? Check out ModelMayhem. You can narrow down the selection of models in your geographic location by age, dress size, height, hair color, etc.
  • Be sure to check the submission requirements of the blogs or magazines you plan to submit to for publication. Most of the time, you can only submit to one at a time, as they do not want work duplicated in different blogs or print. Some publications, especially print, require that you do not even post the shoot on your personal blog until after it has been published. 
  • Use Pinterest as a place to organize your styled shoot ideas. I've talked about my love of Pinterest before, and the obsession just keeps growing. Step out of the box - don't just pin other people's wedding photos and details for inspiration. Pin anything from a room that you like the color scheme of for a shoot to a skirt that's made of just the right fabric for the linens. Be creative.
  • Always thank anyone and everyone who has helped you with the styled shoot. A sincere, handwritten thank you goes a long way.

I hope you all have enjoyed this week's Friday Five and gotten some great inspiration for your own styled shoot!

Happy Friday, y'all!