You guys, I have a serious love/hate relationship with the ever increasingly popular "Styled Shoot." So, last week when I was contacted by a venue about putting together a team for a styled shoot, it got me thinking about why I actually feel this way.
The amount of time and effort that goes into a well-planned and well-executed shoot is immense, and unless every single vendor does their big BIG part, they can become a totally, disorganized mess. It's why I choose to shoot only one or two styled shoots per year. I want the best venue with the best vendors that are going to work as a team to achieve a common goal, whatever we decide that is.
So here's a list of Do's and Don'ts I came up with that not only encourage you to create something awesome, but enourage you respect your time and talent, too!
DO plan ahead.
Before you start asking vendors to share their talents, respect their time by emailing them prepared and ready to answer their questions. Have a vision in mind and be able to communicate that vision both textually and visually. Show them a mood board and explain to them exactly what you're looking for, and what the shoot will entail. Don't waste your time (or their time) by reaching out to vendors that don't have a vibe that will enhance the ideas for your shoot. Do your research, know the vendor, and ask for their input.
PRO TIP // Your Tuesdays Together Facebook group is a great place to find vendors for your shoot. Pinterest is also a great tool for bringing together a mood board for the prospective vendors to see. If you're a Photoshop wiz, you can create style templates, too!
DO have all vendors involved sign an agreement.
Styled shoots take up a ton of time, direction, and effort from the vendors, some more than others. Be sure to outline the responsibilities of each vendor in an agreement that everyone signs. Include how and when to give vendor credits, as well as how the images may be used across social media platforms, websites, blogs, etc.
PRO TIP // I use Tave, my studio management software, to send out agreements and keep them organized. Don't have Tave, but want to try it out? Use my custom referral link to get a free 60 day trial, instead of the usual 30 day trial!
DO talk to the vendors about the end game.
What is the purpose of the styled shoot? Is it to showcase local vendors in the area? Is it for future referrals? Is it to get published? If so, where? Make sure everyone has a common goal to work towards together.
PRO TIP // We use Two Bright Lights to submit styled shoots and real weddings to publications!
DO stay organized.
Keep a list of all the vendors involved in the styled shoot in a Google Doc that is editable by those you invite. Include a column for their first and last name, email address, phone number, website, Instagram, and Facebook business page. Before the shoot, create a Timeline that includes everyone's start times and important events and locations for the day.
DON'T get taken advantage of.
I can't tell you how many times a vendor has reached out to me asking for a quote for visual branding images for their website, turned around and said they were hoping to spend less, and then a week later ask if I'm interested in photographing his/her styled shoot. Know your worth and understand the value of your work. If someone is only asking you to photograph a styled shoot for their own benefit, it's okay to say "no." Styled Shoots should be about fostering community!
DON'T tag the shoot as a styled shoot.
I can assure you that no bride is searching "styled shoot" in Google when searching for a wedding photographer. When naming your blog post and the images within the blog post from the shoot, name them something that's actually going to get you future business. For example, if the styled shoot took place at a winery in Virginia and you were the wedding photographer, name it that way: The Winery at Bull Run | Centerville Virginia Documentary Wedding Photographer
Have some advice for executing a Styled Shoot? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment!