Live & Learn - Styled Shoots

The past year has been full of styled shoots for me.  And I'm loving it.  Don't get me wrong, they take A LOT of work.  And time.  And work.  But every single second of labor has been worth it and SO MUCH FUN!  I've met some amazing vendors and had the best time working with them.
Elizabeth Henson Photos
In the process of putting together a total of 10 shoots over the last year, I've learned a thing or two.  I've learned the things that work best {for me} while planning, and what does not.  I've learned the best ways for me to execute things on the day of, and the worst ways to go about it all.  So I figured I'd share a little bit of this with all of you!

Put together a vision & a purpose:
When putting together a styled shoot, you need to have a vision of what you want the end result to look like.  In my experience, I'm usually planning the shoot around a vision that the photographer has in mind.  So I ask that photographer what words they would use to describe the shoot they see in their head.

You also need to know what purpose you and the photographer have for the shoot.  Are you putting the whole thing together to submit it for publishing to a national blog?  Are you putting together a "branding shoot" to serve as the backbone of a vendor's new website?  Make sure that the decisions you make in regards to the shoot coincide with the intention of the shoot as a whole.

Pick a date & a venue:
 Without picking a date and reserving a venue for the shoot, booking vendors will be difficult.  When signing on to such a project, people like to know when and where before they commit.  Do they already have 3 weddings that weekend?  Will they be traveling over an hour to the venue?  These things definitely make a difference and it's easiest to take care of them at the beginning. 

Andrew & Tianna Photography
Create a checklist:
If you know me at all, you know that pretty much my whole life revolves around checklists.  I operate best having my thoughts organized into tidy lists that I can tame.  When I create these lists for styled shoots, I make sure to have EVERYTHING on them.

Every single element that the photographer and I want to be incorporated into the shoot goes on that list so that I can make sure to have everything under control on shoot day.  Otherwise, I run the risk of getting really excited about the sweetheart table, showing up to shoot day, and realizing we never got a cake!!!  How humiliating would that be?! 

Armed with my handy lists and the vision we have for the shoot, I then begin building a Pinterest board.  I really do have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest.  It can be so overwhelming if you don't go in knowing exactly what you're looking for, and how to par down the results you get from your search.  But if you know how to use it effectively, Pinterest can be your best friend when planning a shoot.

When I search on Pinterest, I don't just type in "whimsical backyard styled shoot".  The results are too broad and difficult to make your own. Instead, I search for separate elements of the shoot.  For example, "whimsical sweetheart tablescape" or "backyard wedding guest book".  From these images, I decide which ones best match with the adjectives the photographer had in mind and how we can make each element uniquely ours.

Elizabeth Henson Photos
 Vendor Wishlist:
Once the photographer & I have decided on our inspiration, we sit down and put together our "vendor wishlist".  This consists of the different elements we want to incorporate and which vendors would best help us execute our vision.

I usually use a styled shoot as a great opportunity to reach out to a vendor I've been DYING to work with.  You know, the vendor that you keep hoping and praying one of your brides will book?  Yeah, this is when I reach out to them and beg them to work with us.  Ok, maybe beg is too strong a word.  But I do ask very nicely!

Usually the vendors provide their goods {cake, florals, linens, lighting, etc.} for free.  However, being involved in the shoot benefits each and every vendor!  Everyone gets to practice their craft without the constraints presented by a real wedding day.  After the shoot, the photographer provides each vendor with a gallery of images they get to use for their portfolios and social media, showcasing some of their best and most creative work. 

Etsy is usually my very first stop for different accessories for the shoot.  Ties, cake toppers, etc.  If you're unfamiliar with Etsy, go check it out!  It's the most amazing platform where different creatives set up shops to sell their homemade goods.  It's so easy to get wrapped up in going from shop to shop to see all the amazing things people make & sell.

Even though the sellers are based all over the country {and even internationally}, the sellers tend to have an awesome "small business" mindset.  Everyone wants to see everyone else succeed.  And therefore, they are always more than willing to be a part of the styled shoots.

When reaching out to Etsy sellers, I always offer to pay for postage and return the goods promptly following shoot day.  The sellers receive the same gallery as the rest of the vendors to use in their advertising and they are also cited in any publication the images are shown, which brings more traffic to their shop.  Everyone wins!

Andrew & Tianna Photography
Shoot Day Necessities:
On shoot day, I always bring along a kit very similar to my wedding day survival kit.  This bag contains all the things I'll need {or might need} during the day, plus a few extras that are necessary for shoots.  Examples: SNACKS {big priority....I usually go for small bags of goldfish crackers}, bottled waters {if it's really hot, I bring these in a cooler with ice}.  Sunscreen & bug spray, and a first aid kit {including Advil}.  Scissors, a single-hole punch, masking tape, and zip ties.  Another thing I found out comes in handy: GLOVES & EARMUFFS!  While preparing for a shoot on a rooftop in March, I randomly grabbed about 4 pairs of gloves and some earmuffs.  Just about everyone on the "crew" ended up with some of my pink gloves on...including the guys.  Talk about feeling useful!

So there you have it....some of the things I learned over the last year while planning a lot of styled shoots.  If you're interested in hearing a bit more about how to execute a successful shoot and get the most out of it, I'll be speaking at Elizabeth Henson Photos' Meet & Greet on August 20th!  Email me for details or follow this link!  Hope to see you there!