I Have a Bone to Pick with Styled Shoots | For Brides and Photographers

Styled Shoots: What they are and what they are not.

The wedding world is buzzing with talk about styled shoots these days. Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Have no idea what I’m even talking about?

Let’s clear the air and get down to business with a quick rundown on styled shoots, both for photographers and their brides.

What is it?

Styled Shoot n (stīld sho͞ot): A photo shoot involving a team of wedding vendors who come together to stage a fake wedding or bridal shoot.

Styled shoots give vendors the opportunity to pool their resources to create something beautiful and inspiring that represents their personal style as a wedding professional. It’s a chance for photographers and wedding creatives to stretch their creative muscles and truly shape the results.

For photographers: why participate in a styled shoot?

When I do styled shoots, it’s often because I have a vision in my head of something I have dreamed of photographing for a long time. I invest my time, money, and resources into making that vision come to life, so that the final results are exactly what I intended. Like an artist beginning a new painting, I have control of how the scene looks, the location, the feel, the outfits, the subject matter… it’s all about my own creative expression, which fuels my artistic spirit! It’s also a chance to shoot in new locations. Maybe I’m traveling to a new/beautiful/exotic city, or want to explore a new space in my own hometown. I use styled shoots as an opportunity for growth and a chance to inspire clients who are getting married in that city!

Networking is another great reason for wedding creatives to get involved in styled shoots. A new florist may contribute her services to a style shoot to meet local photographers and wedding planners. A local venue may need new images for their website or social media outlets. Styled shoots are a great way to generate content for blog posts or social media!

What it is not!

Brides searching the web for the perfect vendors for their big day should be aware that a styled shoot is NOT an accurate representation of what your wedding day will be like.

Wedding days are full of movement, candid moments, hugs, kisses, and moving pieces. Styled shoots are in a controlled environment and will often focus on portraits and details instead of storytelling and celebrating. Wedding days are also full of things that are beyond your vendors’ control. They can’t be easily rescheduled for rain, and you can’t stop the ceremony for a second try at a perfect first kiss.

During a styled shoot, photographers and vendors have hours to get the perfect set of portraits and detail shots. On your wedding day, they might only have 15-30 minutes for each. While it’s tempting to get caught up in making your wedding “Pinterest Perfect,” it’s most helpful for you to use styled shoots, and Pinterest in general, as a source of inspiration for your unique day. I encourage my clients to keep their focus on enjoying their day with their loved ones.

Tips for Brides:

The best thing you can do is hire smart. Look for:

·      Vendors who know how to work quickly and efficiently and will be a joy to be around.

·      A photographer who you know is comfortable with fast-paced environments, multiple weather conditions, and is calm under pressure.

·      Vendors you trust and can release to do their jobs well!

Hire well and keep your expectations and priorities in line and you will be able to relax and enjoy your day and celebrate your marriage and family which is the most important part! 

Tips for Vendors: 

Considering a styled shoot as a way to grow your wedding business? A few things to keep in mind:

·      Styled shoots are not complete branding shoots for your website. They can be a great ways to create up-to-date content but can end up being very disjointed looking if you’re pulling together shoots from multiple photographers. Consider investing in your business and hiring a photographer to help you with your branding photography. They can help you streamline your look, communicate your vision, and attract your ideal clients. 

·      Styled shoots are also not a sure-fire way to get published. For some in the wedding industry, getting published is the Holy Grail of success. At the same time, blogs and magazines are becoming way more selective in what styled shoots they are publishing, and are more interested in publishing real weddings. Don’t go in to a collaboration expecting it to be in a magazine. Instead, look at it as a way to build genuine relationships, communicate your style, inspire brides who are planning their weddings, and feed your creative soul!