By: Jennifer Troietto, WPICC of The Wedding Pixie
Whether you’re a new planner, just beginning to build your portfolio, or are more established with years of experience under your belt, chances are you’ll participate in a style shoot at some point in your career. After all, style shoots play a huge part in our industry and seem to go along with running a wedding business.
Up to this point, I’ve participated in a handful of style shoots and boy-oh-boy are they fun! While there is no right or wrong way to go about designing and organizing a style shoot, I’m going to share with you 8 tips to keep in mind the next time you’re ready to dream up something pretty and bring it to life.
1. Define your vision
This is where it all begins. Defining your vision is narrowing down what you’ll create for your style shoot. Creative inspiration is everywhere and it can take just one photo or detail to spark your imagination.
We all know Pinterest is the go-to app for collecting inspirational photos but if you’re looking for a new tool to use to create a mood board, I suggest Canva. Canva’s easy-to-use (and free!) platform allows you to not only create any type of visual content by uploading your own photos, but when your mood board is complete you can download it in a PNG file and share it later with the rest of the team.
Whatever your vision is, it needs to be unique. If you’ve seen it done before on the blogs you follow or in your favourite magazine, stay clear of doing it again. This is your chance to shine by thinking outside the box, showcasing fresh ideas, introducing new concepts or adding a twist on a current trend.
A strong vision also reflects your brand, inspires (and ideally excites!) the vendors you wish to collaborate with and most importantly, appeals to your ideal client. Whoever your ideal client is, keep them in mind because your style shoot needs to speak to them. If you haven’t clearly defined your ideal client or you aren’t currently attracting the right type of client to your business, I recommend sitting down now and make it part of this planning process.
2. Establish your end goal
Why do you want to create this style shoot? Is it to build your portfolio? Flex your creative muscles? Do you just want to have more content for social media? Or maybe you want to be featured on a blog or in a publication?
Having a clear end goal in mind from the start keeps you on track and helps to set you up for a successful shoot. If your end goal is to be featured, particularly on a blog, do your research ahead of time. Most blogs clearly outline their guidelines so get familiar with their submission requirements before you actually shoot. Take note on what image size and file type they are looking for, how many images they want and how you go about sending them in. No matter how stunning your professional images end up being, if you don’t follow the rules you run the risk of rejection.
3. Make sure you have the time to do it well
Before you start reaching out to vendors, take the time to consider your current workload. Designing and organizing a style shoot is fun but let’s keep it real. Style shoots are almost as much work as a wedding. As the planner, don’t underestimate the time commitment involved. You’re the one leading the team and much of the organization and logistics will fall on your shoulders.
If your schedule is full with other commitments, consider doing the style shoot at a different time. I’ve always found spring to be a sweet spot for style shoots. Coming out of winter, I’m full of ideas, excited to create something pretty plus my schedule allows the time needed to focus on the project and be there for my team.
Style shoots are a perfect opportunity to bring your A+ game so vendors see what it’s like to work with you. Your personal goal should be to have every vendor wanting to work with you again, either on another style shoot, or even better, on a real wedding where they have referred you to their client!
4. When building your dream team, start with the photographer
There is no shortage of talented photographers in our industry and like all creatives, every photographer has their own skill set. Choosing your photographer needs to be done carefully because they can make or break your style shoot.
For example, if you want your style shoot to have a deep, bold and moody look, choosing a photographer whose style is light, bright and airy is going to completely miss the mark in the end regardless of how beautiful the images are in their own way.
It’s also worth noting that a well-rounded style shoot includes a variety of images showcasing the smaller details too such as jewelry, menu cards, seating chart and invitations. With this in mind, the photographer you choose should be just as good at capturing the smaller details as they are when photographing models.
5. Write a style shoot contract
Ok, I know this may sound a little bit much. You may even think it’s unnecessary, but hear me out. Having a signed contract in place with each vendor is vital to ensuring everyone is on the same page at the start of the process. Every team member needs to understand what they are getting into and having a contract in place goes a long way to avoiding surprises down the road.
What should a style shoot contract include? Your lawyer is the best person to advise on what needs to be included to protect yourself however, if you aren’t ready to invest in one, a basic contract template should clearly define the following:
· Date and location. Since many style shoots take place outdoors, having a back-up date or an alternative indoor location in mind is something to consider in the planning stages just in case there is rain in the forecast on shoot day.
· Theme/vision/colour palette details
· A list of items the vendor will provide
· Expectations on shoot privacy and exclusivity
A great platform to use for obtaining electronic signatures is HelloSign. I started using this platform last year for securing new clients and I love it! Not only is it user-friendly and convenient but you can send up to 3 documents every month without a paid subscription.
6. Create a timeline for shoot day
Just as you would for a wedding day, create a timeline. This is essential to keep you focused and to value everyone’s time. Be sure to include when each vendor should arrive, what time will you start shooting and when you expect to wrap up so teardown can begin.
I suggest working in breathing room (i.e extra time) as well. Loading in rentals and setting up vignettes can take longer than anticipated and of course there’s always a possibility of other unforeseen hiccups and delays.
7. Prepare a vendor contact list
As the planner, you know who is who on the team and who is providing what for the style shoot, but that doesn’t mean everyone else on the team does.
Show your professionalism by taking the time to ask each vendor how they would like their business to be credited. Take it one step further by organizing the information so it can easily be shared with the rest of the team after the shoot.
When I participate in style shoots, I create a simple chart detailing the name of the business, their role in the shoot, their website and their exact social media handles. Social media handles are particularly important to include as multiple businesses can have very similar account names and of course, you want to ensure everyone is tagging the correct business.
Doing this work upfront will not only be appreciated by the team but it’ll save you time later since a full vendor list is needed if you intend on submitting to a blog or publication.
8. Don’t share the images online
You may be thinking, “But Jen, we’ve worked so hard and we are super excited to share what we created!” I hear you and believe me, I get it. It’s tempting to share your hard work, however, if you plan on submitting your style shoot, keeping the professional images off social media is best.
Each and every blog or publication has their own set of submission procedures but exclusivity does tend to be a common requirement. This means it can’t be found online anywhere, including your website. It’s also a good idea to only submit to one at a time and wait for feedback before submitting elsewhere.
Although the professional images should be kept off line until you receive feedback on your submission, snapping a few behind-the-scenes photos to share on social media on shoot day is something I encourage. I personally love sharing teasers that don’t give away too much of the details through stories on Instagram. This gives your followers a tiny glimpse into what you are working on, it gets them excited to see more and the best part, after 24 hours, it’s gone.
There you go, 8 tips for designing and organizing a style shoot! The next time you’re ready to dive into the world of style shoots, I hope these tips come in handy. Style shoots are certainly a lot of work, and can be stressful at times, but the lessons you learn from the process will make you a stronger planner in the end.
Jennifer Troietto is the Owner of The Wedding Pixie, based in Hamilton, Ontario. Since launching her business in 2014, Jennifer’s styled shoots have been featured on WedLuxe, So This is Love and Wedding Planner Magazine. Most recently, Jennifer has been recognized in her community taking a top spot in the Hamilton Spectator Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Wedding/Event Planner.