Fast becoming one of my favourite marketing tools, styled shoots are legit one of the best ways to get your brand out there. Whether your goal is to showcase your brand, network or feel the esteem of being published in an amazing magazine or top industry blog, hooking up with fellow creatives to create some beautiful visual magic can really nurture your soul and give you some fantastic marketing opportunities.
Guess what, I’mma tell you a secret. Up until January of this year, I had only ever collaborated on one styled shoot...ever! I know, I know...you’re probably thinking “who is this goddam hooligan trying to give me tips”?! Well ring ‘dem bells! I’ll have worked on TWENTY FIVE shoots by the time your head is down the toilet at this years NYE party. It’s really been a fantastic year, and I have had the chance to work with some AMAZING people.
So where did my obsession with styled shoots begin?
Well, in November last year, I decided that I wanted to coordinate my own shoot. I had started to wise up about my ideal client and I had seen a few of the suppliers I religiously follow on Instagram post about the amazing collaborations they were involved in...not to mention the publications which followed. I wanted a slice of that pie. My first shoot took place at The Granary Estates near Woodditton in March and was featured on Rock My Wedding this summer. Four more shoots followed and my last one of the year is this coming Monday, the 6th November. So, not only will I have conceptualised and planned six of my own shoots, but I have collaborated on nineteen more and made some ridiculously great mates along the way.
That’s great Jenna, but what have you learnt?
From a planning perspective, planning a shoot can be pretty daunting. But staying focused on your end goal can keep your headspace clear. Remember, there will be a whole host of suppliers relying on you for organisation so keep your head in the game…
When you begin your planning, ensure you have a clear sense of what you want to achieve. Where do aspire to see your shoot published? Often times, having an idea of where you might want to submit your end product can really help you stay focused.
Will your shoot be luxe and polished, or boho and wild? Set your theme, choose your colours and then stick to it. There is NOTHING worse than working with someone who doesn't have a goddamn clue what they want. Whilst mixing styles from different aesthetics can work with experienced suppliers, it’s better to ensure your moodboard is cohesive as ultimately this will be what your collaborators will work from. If you want them all to bring their a-game, you need to nail your concept so that none of them are under any illusion of what the core ideals of the shoot are.
Don’t expect everyone to say yes
It’s only natural that people will say no. Remember, the wedding industry is busy, but seasonality changes for different suppliers...whilst your particular sector may be in a quiet period, that does not meant to say other suppliers aren't in the thick of it.
And don’t tell people that they were your second or third choice. Styled shoots are much more than accessing lovely imagery and being published...they are also amazing networking opportunities, so whether someone says yes or no, treat them with the utmost respect as you never know when you may cross paths in the future. You don’t want to be remembered as being a total tool, do you?!
This goes without saying...you are organising a mini wedding after all. Keep records of all suppliers who have confirmed and what your agreement is...what will they be supplying? Will they attend on the day? Coordinating a list of suppliers can be a daunting task but remaining organised can ensure smooth running on the day itself, and also ensure each supplier has a clear view of the project.
Don’t be afraid to connect suppliers if they need to have a conversation about how elements will work together. Perhaps your cake artist needs florals from your florist to decorate the edible goods, or perhaps your stylist needs to discuss specifics with your stationer. Keep conversations open and pinterest or moodboards visible so that necessary planning can take place.
I always create a pinterest board and a shoot document for each of my shoots. The document includes an order of the day, sneak peek rules and a list of all suppliers involved, alongside an overview of colours and some moodboard images - if you would like to see a copy of one of these to help with your planning, please get in touch.
You may also want to put together a shot list with your photographer and videographer, to ensure nothing is missed on the day. This should be a collaborative process, so please keep conversations open. You really don’t want to stifle people's creativity.
Give people time
Please recognise that things take time to create, especially if you are asking for something really specific. As a guide, I need around two to three weeks to design and print a bespoke suite of stationery for a shoot, which includes time for any hand-finished elements, so please bear this in mind. Some supplier may need more or less time, so getting in touch way in advance of the shoot is better all round.
I usually make contact with all the suppliers I need around two months before the date of the shoot, and I always do this once the venue is confirmed so I can give both a date and location. This two months gives everyone enough time to plan and deliver what has been agreed, and also gives me buffer time should a supplier have to bow out - remember, this can happen, but don’t worry...everything works out in the end.
Once all is said and done, and the day has arrived, remember to have fun. Make friends and feel creatively inspired. Shoot days can be long but they are so interesting and it really is a beautiful thing seeing everything come together.
So you've wrapped...what comes next?
- Don’t forget to thank all of your suppliers, whether they were there on the day or not
- Return any items you have lent in the time frame agreed
- Agree with your photographer a time frame for editing the images and releasing a sneak peek
- Get to work on that submission...make a list of the blogs/magazines you want to submit too in order of preference and ensure you have their guidelines!
I really hope this little blog gives you the confidence to go out there and plan your own styled shoot. If you have got this far, thank you so much for reading!