Over the course of the past couple of weeks, whenever I mentioned to my friends and family that I was preparing for a fall themed styled shoot with Jontell I got a bunch of funny looks. Such happens when you start throwing out wedding industry jargon and then realize that it’s not a common term. I found myself trying to explain what a styled shoot was in a couple of sentences and then realizing how specific of a thing it was to the wedding industry. When you explain a styled shoot, it almost seems a little weird. A whole mock wedding set up only to take pictures? How does that work and why do you do it in the first place? I tried to break down the answer to these questions below for anyone that’s curious!
A styled shoot is essentially a gathering of wedding vendors’ resources & talents to create a staged wedding or event with a certain vision in mind that would appeal to an ideal client. They range from simple to more elaborate affairs. Ours involved a wedding venue, a florist, a cake and sweets, models to act as a bride and groom, a calligrapher and sign designer, a videographer which was pretty cool, a bridal boutique, and a hair and makeup artist to help bring our fall themed & sweet obsessed vision to life. We set up a sweetheart table where the couple would sit as well as a dessert table with the cake as the main focus along with a few other fall themed desserts. So WHY do people go to such lengths, volunteer their time, efforts and skills to put together a mock event if you’re already in the wedding industry space and have REAL clients?
Getting a styled shoot that you have put together published in a creditable online magazine is a great way to earn credibility! Not only are you able to show off beautiful images from the day, but a publication is able to recognize the quality of your work and wants to showcase it to their viewers and brides. It not only provides a sense of inspiration on the blog where it is published, but it also attracts your ideal clients. For photographers and other wedding vendors, it’s important to showcase the kind of work that you would LIKE and your ideal style in your portfolio. For example, if I’m looking to attract more brides interested in having a vineyard wedding, they are more likely to identify me as someone they’d like to work with if they have seen that I have photographed vineyard weddings before rather than if I showcased a lot of weddings photographed in an urban city. Also, photographers always have high quality images of their work to post online, but this isn’t necessarily true for all other wedding vendors. When they receive images from the shoot, it gives them a chance to showcase their hard work and dedication beautifully online.
When you are working with paid clients you are providing them a service to help bring together their vision for their wedding day come to life. Although every professional is given some sort of artistic control to make this happen, as someone putting together a styled shoot, you have full control over the starting vision or theme for the day AND more control over the details as well! As a photographer this is huge since you scarcely have the opportunity to choose exactly which venue or general aesthetic you’ll be working with until you’re established enough to only take weddings that are “on brand” or align with your aesthetic preferences. As someone who has second shot a lot of weddings, not each wedding aligns to the kind of wedding I would want to showcase in my portfolio simply due to the fact that I have a different personal style than that of the bride. It’s not to say that these weddings weren’t gorgeous (they totally were!), but not all of their details were necessarily ones that I would have had at my dream wedding and that’s ok! Being able to photograph every detail and have it be something that I would want to showcase in my portfolio to attract ideal clients with similar details on their wedding day is a huge advantage of photographing a styled shoot! This is not to say that Jontell and I nitpicked and gave our vendors no control, we just communicated a very specific vision to our vendors to bring about details that would match this vision.
3. I think one of the most under-looked, but most important aspects of putting together a styled shoot is developing relationships with the vendors you are working with. A styled shoot gives you the chance to work with wedding vendors across the industry that you may have admired and to appreciate the hard work that each and every one brings to a wedding. You get a chance to get a feel for what it’s like to work alongside them and to connect with them in person! It’s important to have these relationships with vendors so that if you have a bride or client looking for a specific vendor, you can refer someone amazing with confidence to them that you would absolutely love to work with again! It helps strengthen your relationships and is a great way to network within the industry when you’re getting started! I knew that I worked well with Jontell, which is why we decided to put this shoot on together, but it was so cool to meet some vendors that I had followed online in person finally!
4. And the last reason is the most important of all: TO HAVE FUN!! A styled shoot is arguably less stressful than a wedding day and gives you more of a chance to be creative and practice your passion! It also was my excuse to drive down early to YAR and buy some fall decorations and sweets! 😉 I think the fact that styled shoots are so common in the wedding industry and people who may not have even met each other will so kindly offer up a whole day as well as their work for a collective vision is really, really cool!
I can’t share TOO many pictures from Jontell and my styled shoot since we’re trying to get it published, but here’s a little teaser for anyone that read through this entire post!!
I mean, could they BE more adorable?!! That is Marla, she’s also an incredible photographer & a pretty cool human being so you should go check her out as well as the rest of our vendors featured below!
Venue: Delfosse Vineyards & Winery
Photography: Jontell Vanessa Photography & Manali Photography
Videography: Mckenzie, Travel House Collective
Cake & Desserts: Tiffany of Commonwealth Cake
Florals: The Faded Poppy
Hair & Makeup: Nicole Laughlin
Bridal Boutique: Sealed With a Kiss, Charlottesville
Signs: Desiree, Reciprocated Designs
Invitation Suite: Becky J, Becky J Invitations