Last Friday I had a chat with Lucy Munoz Photography on Clubhouse about how to plan your own wedding styled shoot to elevate your brand and attract your dream clients. It was such an amazing conversation full of tactical tips and insight into our process for planning shoots, what we find important, and how to approach collaborations. If you missed it, I’ve got the run down below!
Why do a shoot?
Styled shoots have become harder and harder to publish these days in top wedding blogs, with more required in terms of unique detail, and a high-level of storytelling that makes it feel like a real wedding day. But when you think about who you want to attract as your dream client, how will you be able to show what you want to shoot without ever having shot it before? This is where portfolio building shoots come into play. If an ideal client can see themselves in your images, you are more able to attract them to the amazing services I know you have to offer.
Shoots are also a great way to network with other wedding professionals of a similar level, collaborate, get inspired, and truly build relationships that last. Vendors that I’ve worked with have become friends, referral sources, and even clients. It is a beautiful way to help support each other to grow.
How to plan a shoot with intention
- Determine who your ideal client is for your brand in order to make sure that the shoot you create is intentional. For example, is she a boho bride who wants to get married in the desert, or a classic bride who wears a traditional gown? Those will be two very different types of photoshoots. And maybe she’s planning a luxury wedding and will be looking for high-end couture gowns. As Candice from Milk Events mentioned in our chat, hiring a wardrobe stylist might be a great way to secure that luxury gown for your shoot.
- Think about what venues you want to be able book clients at. Brides value photographers who have shot at their venue before, so having images at that dream venue is so important, not to mention the keywords, geo-tagging, and hashtagging you can do for visibility at that location.
- Consider the vendors that you would like to work with. Make sure their style and quality of work is in line with where you want to take your brand. It’s best to find someone around a similar level to collaborate, build a relationship with and start supporting each other to rise together.
- Look to non-wedding areas for inspiration. As visual people, we tend to consume imagery and look to what others are doing in the industry, but it is good practice to get outside and find inspiration elsewhere to come up with unique ideas. Head to art museums, go on a nature walk, or shoot for personal fun and start dreaming up ideas.
How to reach out to collaborators
As I mentioned above, finding likeminded people of a similar level is important for a true collaboration. Start getting on their radar prior to asking to collaborate by interacting with them on social media, so that when you do want to ask they know who you are and may be more willing.
But don’t be afraid to ask – repeat after me, “it never hurts to ask”! The worst thing someone can do is say no (although maybe ghosting might sting more), but now you are on their radar and you could always try again some other time.
Be positive and specific. Say, “I love your work because of X reasons, and I was thinking of creating a shoot with Y vision. I think you would be such a great fit for this. Would you like to work together?”
If you are reaching out to get this shoot going, don’t be surprised if some vendors want to be compensated for the costs. For example florals cost a lot of money, just as film does, so be aware that not everyone will be able to collaborate fully. But others might be ecstatic to collaborate just to get your images to share (Hint: these are the vendors that will share your images a lot!). So go into it with the a budget in mind, and weigh the outcomes. A bigger shoot that’s more expensive might just give you a better return on your investment if done well.
How to get your shoot published
- Think about where you might want to be published and study the shoots that they are showcasing. You will want to not only make sure your shoot is in line stylistically with the imagery they showcase, but have just the right key shots needed.
- Focus on making the shoot as close to a real looking wedding as possible. Just a bride with a bouquet might be good for practicing and adding to your portfolio, but if you want to get your shoot shared with more people, find ways to make it feel like a real wedding so it is more likely to get picked up by a publication. I find that creating a storyboard prior to the shoot really helps me ensure that the shoot will tell a story with my images.
- Be more inclusive in adding diversity to your shoot. The wedding industry has been traditionally showcasing white female brides with white male grooms, and there is a major focus to try to shift the industry to telling more diverse stories so that everyone can see better representation. It is such an important movement!
- Only show your best shots. Publications don’t want to see 10 photos of the cake that all look kind of similar. Pick the one or two angles that they will want to post, and share only the best images. More is not better.
My last piece of advice is to have fun with it! Planning shoots can sometimes get stressful with all the vendors involved and items to source. But in the end when everything aligns on shoot day, it is so inspiring to be able to create with others and start seeing those dream client inquiries rolling in!
To help you get started I have created a free STYLED SHOOT CHECKLIST that I think you’re going to love. It includes a complete list of all the items you need to source for a full wedding day shoot, and the vendors that you will need to reach out to. I hope you find this helpful, and as usual please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or feedback. Would love to hear from you!
This shoot was seen on Style Me Pretty!
Photography: Jacqueline Benét Photography | Design and Planning: Rose Andrew Events | Florals: Botanique Flowers | Venue: Woodinville Lavender | MUAH: Jen Lagers | Stationary: The Fancy Cat Studio | Furniture Rentals: Fanciful Rentals | Tabletop Rentals: Pedersen Event Rentals | Cake: Missy Lee Cakes | Models: Ayana and Mike of SMG Model Management | Gown: Reem Acra from Nyanza Bridal | Accessories: Riot of Flowers | Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse