If you’re just starting out and trying to break into the wedding photography business, it can be very difficult to find clients when you have little to no work to show for it. On the other hand, if you’ve been involved in wedding photography for years, and are becoming bored with weddings, you may feel like you’re losing your creative touch. A solution to either of these problems could be organizing a styled wedding shoot!
A styled wedding shoot is a collaboration between various wedding vendors with the intention of creating portfolio images and flexing your creativity. Recently, my girlfriend (who’s a very talented hair and make up artist) and I planned and shot one at my studio. We both had a variety of ideas that we wanted to try out, but when you’re always working for clients, you can’t always execute your own ideas at a wedding. We found that setting up a styled shoot can be a daunting task. This post is meant to give photographers and other vendors who are interested in setting up a styled shoot some tips on how to do so effectively and professionally.
Finding Other Vendors
If you’re just starting out in the wedding industry, this may seem like a challenge. On the other hand, if you’ve photographed a lot of weddings in the past, you may already have a list of vendors and this could be super easy. So this tip will mainly be for people who are not sure where to start.
Google and social media will be your best friend here. Go to Instagram and in your search bar, try searching things like “Cleveland bridal”, “Cleveland florist”, “Cleveland makeup artist” (depending on the city you’re in). This is a great place to start. You’ll get a few different options that come up - people and businesses who list themselves as those things or similar will pop up and if you look through those terms specific hashtags you’ll see people who fall into those categories.
The same works for Google. The top search results will of course come up first, and its possible a good amount of those may not have an interest in working with photographers who are new to weddings. But scroll down the search results a little ways and you may be able to find a smaller or newer businesses who would love to work with you.
Professional Communication and Transparency
Now that you’ve made your list of prospective vendors, it’s time to email them. This is where professionalism becomes super important. You’ll want to introduce yourself, explain the concept of the shoot, include names and website links of any businesses who have already agreed to work with you, a mood board, links to your work, location ideas, etc. Basically, include as much information about the shoot as you possibly can. This can make or break if someone wants to be involved in the shoot.
Don’t expect everyone you contact to say yes or even respond. You’ll probably get a handful of no’s or get ghosted by them. But the ones who are interested will appreciate not having to pry the information about the shoot out of you and will make them more likely to want to participate.
Once someone gets back with you and commits to being involved, make sure to follow up whenever there are new developments with the shoot or if anything changes. You’ll want to make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them so the collaboration is as effective as possible. Communication will be key to the success of your shoot, so be sure to make it a priority!
Create a Game Plan
Know what you need to cover in the shoot. Do you need a specific image for your website? Are you trying to create a specific image for a mailer? If it helps, make a list. It also doesn’t hurt to ask the vendors if there is anything they’d like to focus on or need photos of specifically. It’s a team effort, so make sure your team is satisfied!
Take time to get to know your team! Always introduce yourself by shaking their hand and giving them your business card… or 6. That way they can hand them out to any of their clients as well. If you’re organizing the shoot, make sure to take care of your team. Bring coffee, water, snacks, etc. Make everyone feels comfortable and welcome at the shoot. When you conclude the shoot, make sure everyone is satisfied with what photographs that were taken and thank them for their involvement.
These relationships can be hugely helpful in the future. Having other businesses recommend your service to their clients only helps you in the long run.
If you’re wanting to set up a styled wedding photo shoot, I highly recommend using these tips to you advantage. They’ll be hugely helpful in continuing your career in the wedding business!
Enjoy the gallery of images from my recent styled wedding shoot below! For more information about my wedding services, you can visit my wedding page here.
Special thanks to the vendors who collaborated on this photoshoot: