Business Series Part 3: Set Up a Styled Event Photo Shoot
Ever browse through Brides Magazine or StyleMePretty.com and come across a photo of an absolutely gorgeous photo of a wedding or event? Did the photo make you want to instantly create something or learn more about the talent behind the photograph?
That photo was most likely of a styled event photo shoot. These are becoming more and more popular with event & wedding planners as a wonderful way of showing the public—and the industry—what they’re made of.
When you properly execute a styled shoot, you can have your talent featured in major publications. At the very least, you connect with talented local vendors and are left with beautiful works of art that you can add to your portfolio.
But how do you start? It can be intimidating, but the truth is, a styled shoot can be very simple to accomplish. You just need to be organized, creative, and confident in your own abilities.
Here we go!
Step 1: The Inspiration
Before you start doing any work, you need an idea. As the orchestrator of the shoot, you need to have an original idea that will get vendors excited about participating in the shoot. You should spend a lot of time on this step. Create inspiration boards and let your imagination soar! If you come up with a unique and original idea for your shoot, the job is already half done.
Step 2: The Planning
Once you have your awesome, original idea for the shoot, it’s time to find partners who can help turn your idea into reality. A well-planned styled shoot shouldn’t cost you anything other than your time, and possibly a fee for the location.
Any vendor who participates should be happy to donate their services in order to benefit from the final product. Just make sure you’re thorough and make a list of all the vendors you’ll need to pull off the big day.
When you’re looking for vendors to participate in your staged event, don’t be afraid to reach for the top! If there’s a particular local florist, caterer, makeup artist or stylist you’ve always wanted to work with, there’s absolutely no harm in contacting them first. Sure they may be too busy or uninterested and say no, but they’ll likely be flattered that you thought of them! And if they agree to participate, you’ll be even more excited about the opportunity!
During the first step where you conceptualized your idea for a staged event, I hope you spent a bit of time thinking about the perfect location for the shoot! If the event is to be staged in a park or other public area, it might not cost you anything but make sure you adhere to local ordinances. You may need to acquire a permit from the city or municipality in order to shoot in a public place.
If you want to stage a shoot at a venue that regularly hosts events, you can probably negotiate a free rental for a day, much in the way you’d get another vendor to participate. If, however, you want to rent a professional photography studio, try to work with your photographer who likely has contacts that can get you a better deal on the studio rental fees.
Planning & Organizing
As the event planner for the shoot, it’s you job to make sure all vendors know the ins-and-outs. You should coordinate between the venue and all the vendors, making sure everyone knows what part of the event is their responsibility. This is what you do for a living, so you should be a master at it by now!
Step 3: The Event
On the day of the shoot, you’ll have a very similar job to what you typically do with paying clients. You’ll be on-site and coordinating between all the vendors. You’ll also be working with the photographer(s) and/or the videographer(s) to direct the shoot.
Be sure to have your emergency kit on-hand! On-the-spot creative problem solving is always an important part of the job!
Step 4: The Promotion
You have two avenues to explore with a styled shoot: Using your images to beef up your and your vendor’s portfolios, or having your images promoted by industry publications.
You should decide this early!
If the plan is to pitch publications on using your images (and promoting your services as a result), all vendors should be aware of this plan at an early stage and agree not to share images on their own until the publication has accepted or rejected your photos.
Most publications will not want to use content that has been previously used, even in a portfolio. They’ll likely be fine with you and the vendors using the images after they’ve been published, but be sure to read and understand whatever contract you might have with the publisher. At the very least, you can include references to the shoot in your portfolio with links to or clippings from the publication.
Step 5: The Follow-Up
Once the shoot is over and you’ve been published (assuming that was your goal), make sure you properly publicize your accomplishments along with those of your vendors & partners. All participants of the shoot should receive equal credit for the work done. Just because you were the organizer, doesn’t mean this was your event. If you post images of the shoot on your site or any other channel that you own, be sure to list all the vendors and how they contributed to the shoot’s success.
You should also keep in touch with all the vendors about the success of the shoot. If you receive a particularly positive comment or compliment, pass it along! We’ve mentioned it before: you scratch their backs, they’ll scratch yours!
I know a styled event shoot seems like a ton of work. And the good ones are! But you know what? They’re also tons and tons of fun and totally worth it when well executed.