At the end of 2016, I decided that one of my goals for the upcoming year was to get involved with styled wedding shoots. For those of you who aren’t in the wedding industry, style shoots are an opportunity for fellow wedding professionals to come together and work on a project that they have creative control over.
Although a much more arduous undertaking than I originally anticipated, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working on such shoots. If you are considering collaborating on a shoot of your own, take a look at these tips and tricks that I’ve taken away from the past few months.
Develop a vendor list.
When taking the lead on a style shoot, the most important factor is going to be your vendor list. Planning a shoot is hard work, so the more vendors that you already have a working relationship with that you’re able to coordinate with the better. Strive to work with vendors who have a similar style and brand to your own, so that you can easily create a cohesive product. I would suggest reaching out to several vendors from each category, as conflicts in scheduling have been known to arise and you don’t want to be left without a florist or decor rentals at the last minute.
Set a shoot date.
It’s important to take everyone’s schedules into consideration when booking a style shoot. If shooting at a venue, this of course needs to be the first contact you approach about potential shoot dates. When working in a slower season like late winter, venues tend to be more flexible in their weekend availability. Some of the larger venues, however, will only be available on weekdays, which may also affect the availability of the other vendors on your list.
Develop a vendor agreement.
Once you have set a date for the shoot, the next most important thing is to ensure that all of the vendors are on the same page. For example, if a florist is agreeing to collaborate on the shoot, are they donating the florals or selling them to you at cost? Will there be a cleaning fee for the wedding dresses you borrow, or will there be a representative there who will be responsible for them? These are all important questions that you will want to get answered well in advance, to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Make an Inspiration Board.
One of the most important things you can do when preparing for a styled shoot is to ensure that all of the vendors are on the same page about the vision. For this, Pinterest can be your best friend. By adding all of the vendors as collaborators, everyone can ensure that they’re on the same page moving forward.
Create a timeline.
As with a real wedding, a day of timeline is imperative for the day of a styled shoot. While some vendors will need to be there for the full day, others will have the opportunity to just drop off their contribution and leave. Creating a detailed timeline shows your collaborators that their time is valuable to you, and also that the day will have structure to it.
Have a rain plan.
No matter how much we may plan, we can’t control the weather. There was an outdoor shoot that I had been planning for 4 months, and the week of the shoot the weather channel called for 90% chance of rain. While we could have rescheduled for another day, there were too many contributors and concessions that had been made to make this day work, so I opted to keep the shoot on the scheduled date. Our photographers bought umbrellas for the models, we changed the layout options and moved everything indoors that we could, and crossed our fingers that there would be a break in the weather.
Unlike with weddings, the decor, rentals, florals, and details are all up to the vendors. As a planner, I am often just given whatever decor the bride and groom collect and bring their vision to life. But with a styled shoot, every detail is left up to you. So ask your collaborators to bring whatever decor they have amongst their inventory that would be appropriate, ask the florist to provide extra loose stems for detail shots-- anything that can bring your ideas to life will be key.
If you are aiming to get your shoot published, you will have more work ahead of you after the shoot is over. Researching appropriate publications, creating narratives for submissions, and of course waiting to hear back-- all take time. Some of the larger publications take weeks or even months to hear back from. Be sure to look at their specific guidelines for each submission to ensure that your shoot is a good match before submitting.
Most importantly, remember that st
yle shoots are supposed to be fun! A lot of work, yes, but that is part of the industry that we are a part of. I hope that if you’ve considered participating in a style shoot you’ll find this helpful (and if you’re in the eastern NC area and are interested in collaborating you know where to find me!)