By: Michelle Goodwin, WPICC, DWC, of Michelle Goodwin Weddings
What is a Styled Shoot? You may have heard this term once or twice and always wondered what exactly is a styled shoot? A styled shoot is a creative and demonstrative approach to showcase various products, styles or businesses. As the name suggests, it is a planned media shoot, usually in collaboration with others, that is styled or designed to look a certain way. Styled shoots serve the purpose of gaining marketing collateral, submitting photos for a chance to be featured in a popular blog or magazine, and much more. Styled shoots are very popular across many industries. In this article I have included helpful tips for planning a styled shoot in the Wedding & Event Industry.
- Choose a theme and/or colour scheme … and STICK TO IT!
When planning for a styled shoot, it’s not uncommon for you to be browsing Pinterest, brainstorming designs and letting your imagination run wild with creative ideas. Pinterest can be especially dangerous if you don’t lay down a foundation and carefully search for similar visuals. Sometimes planners and/or designers try to do too much by combining competing elements or various dominant colours.
Pinterest Pro Tip: When you find something you like, scroll down to view “More Like This”. This will help to keep your search relevant.
How to develop a strong theme:
- Create a mood board to share the visual aesthetic with the rest of your team. I typically use Adobe Illustrator for this, but the ol’ copy & paste into a Word document works just as well!
- Clearly communicate your ideas to all other vendors involved. Make sure everyone is on the same page and equally excited about the theme you have chosen. If you’re open to different suggestions, hold a group discussion to narrow it down.
- Know your WHY.
Set your intentions for your styled shoot. What do you hope to accomplish? How many other people or businesses do you want involved? Do you want it to be an elaborate event– something to submit to a magazine or blog? Will it take months of planning & organizing, or are you hoping for a quick and casual yet beautiful shoot with a small list of valued vendors? Know your ‘why’. Use this to attract other participants and set the scope as a team.
Personally, I choose to organize styled shoots because it gives me the creative freedom to do what I want. I love curating new designs and breaking free of the same old wedding themes I often get asked to plan for clients. Further, I love meeting and working with new wedding professionals and building my vendor database!
- Set a date.
One of the biggest frustrations when planning a styled shoot is trying to figure out a date that works for everyone involved. We are all busy Wedding Professionals and most of us lead full personal lives as well. Whether you are a Planner or Designer, Photographer, Florist, or Venue, etc… If you are headlining the styled shoot, please just do us all a solid and choose a date! If a vendor is dedicated, they will make it work. If you want to be a little more flexible, give your key players up to three different options and hold a vote.
Ideally, you will choose your date (or selection of dates) before you begin building your vendor list. This way, you can include the date in your initial email asking them to play a role. Depending on the scope of the styled shoot, make sure you give lots of notice (a minimum of 2-3 months is always appreciated). Weekdays are going to be more Wedding Vendor friendly since we generally have events on weekends. Alternatively, you may come across some vendors who work day jobs throughout the week. Know your audience!
- Be selective when choosing your vendors.
Okay, so I know this sounds super cliquey, but remember that you are aligning your business and your brand with these people. Looks aside, you need to select vendors that will enhance your project and not create complications. Do your research. Ask yourself;
- ‘What are their company values? Do they align with mine?’
- ‘Will they be responsive and easy to work with?’
- ‘What can they bring to the table?’
Once you determine who you want to bring on board, be strategic in your proposal to them. Prepare a thoughtful, informative, and professional email to send them. If you have never worked with them before, be sure to properly introduce yourself and include what you specialize in. Tell them about your idea (but don’t give away the whole cake) and express your desire to work with them. Compliment them on their work– you could even go as far as highlighting specific projects they have accomplished that you loved. Give them a list of other vendors you’ve secured for your styled shoot. You want to sell your idea as you would to a paying client. Remember– similar to how you selected them, they will also be vetting you and your business to ensure you are a good fit for one another.
Email Pro Tip: Before signing off, ask the question, “Does this sound like something you might be interested in?” Even if they’re still on the fence about joining in, a simple question like this can create a feeling of trust and willingness to learn more. From there, you can schedule a meeting together where you can share ideas and discuss the project in more detail.
- Create a timeline.
Treat your styled shoot like a real event. After all, though it might be staged, it IS a real event. Various people are coming together and investing their time, resources and efforts into creating this beautiful work of art. What makes a successful event? A well thought out (and meticulously followed) timeline, of course! Begin with your load-in time. Your timeline should include who is responsible for bringing certain items or decor when they are meant to arrive, and any important notes about venue access. Okay, even if it’s not meticulously followed, at least you will have guidelines in place to ensure the day doesn’t get away from you (home just in time for Wine O’clock!)
Other things to include with your timeline:
- “Must Have” shots – photos you absolutely NEED to capture. All vendors should be contributing to this list if there are specific shots they want to see.
- Social media handles – include a list of all vendors’ Instagram accounts to follow and tag appropriately.
- Make sure everyone involved walks away happy.
Last– but certainly not least– it is SO important that a styled shoot is a win-win event for all vendors involved. I cannot express this enough! Everyone is going to have a different opinion on why they are choosing to invest in the styled shoot. Some choose to participate to market their business and gain more exposure. Some have been waiting for the right opportunity to work with a team that can help bring their vision to life. Some are just happy to network with new vendors and build strong relationships within the industry.
Don’t be afraid to ASK each vendor what their wants and needs are, and try to fulfill this as much as possible. They will appreciate you more for this, and be much more willing to participate in future projects with you.
And there you have it! My top 6 tips for planning a successful styled shoot.
What are some of your core planning tips for headlining a styled shoot? Share your suggestions and feedback in the comments below!
Thanks for reading 🙂
Michelle Goodwin is a WPIC certified Wedding Planner and Designer based out of Kelowna, BC. She has been planning events, coordinating details, and creating beautiful experiences for as long and she can remember. Her favourite moment during a wedding is watching the emotion on everyone’s face when the bride appears and begins walking down the aisle. When Michelle isn’t busy holed up in her office or running around onsite at an event, you can often find her out with her dogs or sipping wine and enjoying the gorgeous view and sunshine in the Okanagan.