How-to Plan a Styled Shoot | Published Seattle and Destination Wedding Photographer

In some ways, a lot has changed since I planned my first styled shoot. And in some ways, not much has.

I still seek out bright and peaceful places, but no longer hold such shoots at my in-law's backyard, (thank you K & H!) I reach out to local business owners who could use photographs of their wares vs. searching through antique stores. What hasn't changed are the values I hold dear, like making lasting connections along the way.

Styled shoots make my heart sing! They allow time to shoot creatively and editorially. For me, planning such an event isn't all about being published by a top wedding magazine, (although that surely has me doing my happy dance!) rather it's about fostering inspiration and community.

These photographic events are a unique way to collaborate with other local industry vendors and real couples too. There is no one formula for designing and styling such shoots, but I personally choose to invite past #mintedbride's and clients to join in on the fun.

In honor of recently having a styled bridal session published on the Swooned Magazine blog, I'm sharing a few big tips for planning your next or possibly first styled shoot!

How to Plan a Styled Shoot

Step 1: Develop a concept
Gather inspiring elements and decide what you want to portray. For the above styled shoot, I started with the concept, "Love Sweet Love." I knew I wanted to incorporate not just one sweet element but a few types. Teaming up with Savannah Bee Company was the perfect match. Their tupelo honey and line of honey-infused beauty products were perfect for this! From there I began looking to fabrics and textures. I wanted to mix classic smooth matte with light and airy lace. The Watters gown from BleuBelle Bridal was just that!

Step 2: Decide on location & set a date
Having a tentative date/timeframe is essential before reaching out to vendors. Most venues are booked on weekends, so weekdays are best. For this particular shoot I knew I'd be visiting Savannah, Georgia, in February and that I wanted it to be held on the nearby shore. Since I chose Tybee Island's public beach as our location, I could plan for a Saturday.

Step 3: Reach out to area vendors
Once you have your concept and location locked in, it's time to collaborate with vendors. Be sure to choose those who produce something you can stand behind that compliments your brand. Provide them as much information as possible and share your hopes and dreams for the shoot. Do be clear on photo rights with everyone involved. Let them know what to expect and when to expect it!

Step 4: Plan and stay organized
Create a shoot day timeline. This will help ensure delivery of products in a timely manner and allow time to connect in person with vendors too! It's also important to have a set time for all events within the day such as makeup, hair and actual shoot time to utilize the best light. Also have plenty of water and snacks on hand for all.

Step 5: Submit your work
Putting yourself out there can be scary. Even as nicely as a magazine editor can regretfully decline your work, it still gets you down. Don't let it. Because someone is looking for exactly what you have to offer. If you are genuine in your intentions and share personal touches from the event or about the couple they won't go unnoticed :)

I hope you've found this helpful! I invite you to sound off in the comments below to share if you've planned or been apart of a styled shoot before. If so, what did you love most about it? Any challenges that you faced?

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