Wedding Photoshoots: 5 top tips to plan a successful styled shoot
This March I’ll be celebrating being in business for 10 years. During my 10 years as a wedding planner I’ve made a name for designing creative and distinctive weddings. Photoshoots have played key role in the success of my business by showcasing my creative talents, building my portfolio and network of expert suppliers and getting me features in UK and international blogs and magazines.
Today I wanted to share with my fellow wedding professionals my 5 top tips how to plan a successful styled shoot.
So what is a styled shoot? A styled shoot is basically a mock wedding created to give inspiration to your ideal client. A group of suppliers come together to recreate a wedding day set-up based on a concept or theme that can be photographed and filmed.
KNOW YOUR TARGET PUBLICATION
One of the biggest benefits of putting together a collaborative wedding photo shoot is the potential to get it featured.
From the very beginning you should have in mind where you’ll want to submit the shoot as where it ultimately ends up can steer the direction for the shoot.
There’s not point designing and creating a shoot that doesn’t fit the look of the blog you want to feature it. In the same way you should have your ideal clients so too do blogs- with so many around they all cater to their specific audience.
A good example is Rock and Roll Bride and Wedding Sparrow- both cater to very different audiences and markets – one is all about the alternative bride, edgy, and bold, the other is light and airy fine art film photography.
Do your research at the start and have in mind your main target publication and a few others that you like too that could all be great fit for the shoot.
Check the submission policy of your ideal blogs and look at past shoots so you know what they will be looking for and you can create a shot list that caters to their audience. Do also check what their policy is on exclusivity and sneak peeks etc You don’t want to blow your chances of getting a feature because the team shared loads of images on social media.
BRAND ALIGNMENT BETWEEN SUPPLIERS
A shoot is a great opportunity to meet other suppliers get to see how they work and create a network of suppliers you could recommend to your couples. So chose suppliers that ideal couple aligns with yours and that you want to build a working relationship with. Every time you meet a new supplier think about if you could work together on a shoot. The brand of the supplier should also align with the type of shoot you are putting together. So a fine art shoot would benefit from a fine art style supplier, for example. That said, don’t immediately rule out suppliers that don’t obviously fit in with the style, as it could be an area they want to get into and are able to adapt to. Just do your homework, as ultimately you and the suppliers on the team should all be targeting the same type of clients so that you’ll gain the most exposure.
Suppliers you work with on a photos shoot should share your ethos and want to work with similar clients. Take a good look at their websites and social media profiles to make sure that they will be a good fit. This will make for better team that are coming together to showcase their best work.
AN ORIGINAL CONCEPT
Publications want to inspire their audience, show them the latest trends. When thinking about your concept try to come up with ideas that are new and interesting, don’t just look at everyone else’s shoots.
What can you bring that’s new and fresh to their audience? What will inspire couples when planning their own wedding.
It’s all too easy to get lost on Pinterest only looking at wedding images to get inspiration but it’s better to look outside the industry – look at popular culture- art, film, theatre, music, fashion to get ideas from. Ask yourself what is your ideal client into? What do they love that they might want to see incorporated into their wedding?
Look for trends outside of the industry that might make their way into weddings. The interior design industry is a great place to look for colour inspiration.
If doing anything seasonal eg an Valentines then plan enough time ahead to get the images out to blogs. You often need to work a season in advance.
PLAN OUT YOUR SHOOT DAY
Shoots need a lot of organising, you need to work out your set ups beforehand and allocate how much time you’re going to spend on each set up so you know you have enough time to do everything.
As well as the set ups think how long hair and makeup will take, what shots need to be taken, and packing/unpacking at the start and end of the day. Please be aware that everything will often take longer then allocated, so this is just a guide, but a valuable one to make sure you get all the shots you need. Do also allocate time for breaks and a quick lunch, shoots can be long days, so it helps to keep everyone’s energy levels up if they know they are getting breaks and being fed.
On the day Keep an eye on timings and stay on top of what needs to be done.
USE THE IMAGES
Getting a feature is not the end, when the feature is put out the whole team need to shout about it on their blogs and social media.
Just because you have one feature doesn’t mean the shoot promotion ends there. Think about submitting it to other publications (again, check the exclusivity policy) and all suppliers, if they have blogs, should be blogging about it too.
Remind suppliers to continue to post images on Instagram and their Facebook pages.
A note about Instagram, you should tag and credit the whole team in the image not just one or the other, and there is no reason to crop the images to square as Instagram lets you post landscape and portrait images now.
Think further than just showcasing the images as a styled shoot or “hey look I got featured”. Can the images be used to illustrate engaging and useful blog posts for couples looking for wedding inspiration? If you have a few shoots behind you, pick out all the bouquets for a “Top 5” blog post, or use images to illustrate a “How to” post, and make it relevant to your ideal client.
Keep reusing the images and encouraging all the suppliers to do so, just remember to credit the photographer and planner/stylist every time and any specific suppliers that are in the image.
Considering creating your own styled shoot but not sure where to start? I’ve put all the things I’ve learned into a resource that helps you utilise the potential of styled shoot my eBook: How to Plan a Successful Styled Shoot.
I’ve packed in literally everything I can possibly think of, from how to come up with a concept and choose the right team, all the way through to practical checklists to make the day run smoothly. I genuinely wish this guide had been around when I was starting out!
For more information about How to Plan a Successful Styled Shoot, visit the dedicated page here.