How To Plan a Styled Shoot: 101
Every venue, planner, or really any event professional, needs good photos and content. Whether they're new in the industry or they're a few years in, styled shoots are always a must! One little (well, actually BIG) perk about producing them is that you get to meet awesome vendors along the way! Who doesn't like to meet new people? Or from a business standpoint, who doesn't want to make more referral partners?!
I know there has been several new event planners, venues, etc. that have opened up (or are getting ready to), pandemic or no pandemic. First of all, welcome to the industry! I come from a photo shoot background via my styling company, MH Style Consulting, so I thought I would go back to the basics and talk about something a little different - How To Plan a Styled Shoot: 101
1 - Pick your theme
Do you want to do something different or do you want to do something trendy? What look and feel goes with your brand? Is it going to be a wedding shoot or a lifestyle shoot? Or do you want to showcase that you do other events such as art shows, fashion shows, etc.? Along the way, decide if this shoot is going to be a paid shoot or a collaborative shoot. It's also good to know where you'll be using the photos so you're ready for step #2 👇
2 - Pick your vendors
Stalk local vendors! See who fits your look and feel of your shoot and who has amazing work. What is their content like? How long have they been in business? Does it match the look and feel of your theme? Per the 1st step, if it's going to be a collaborative shoot make sure that when you reach out to them THEY KNOW it's going to be a collaboration. Also, don't forget to tell them where you're going to be using the photos. In addition to, sign an agreement. I could go on and on with this one; one main thing is make sure that the photographer has a timeframe listed of when the photos will be released. Also, make sure it mentions that they have to give credit to all the vendors when using the photos - this goes for everyone - The last thing you want is for other vendors to share the photos of your work, but not credit you for your craft.
On another note, don't be afraid to pull a vendor from the shoot if they end up being a bad fit. I've had to do this a few times, actually. As a consultant and planner, I get approached from vendors A LOT about listing them on my preferred vendors list. I always say, "I don't just add people, I have to do a styled shoot with them first." Why? Because I test not only their craft, but their communication skills. Sure, they could have really pretty work but they could take forever in getting back to me or respond in an unprofessional way. With that, how are they going to talk to a client that I may refer to them?! It would actually make ME look bad to the client if they had a terrible experience with that vendor who I referred them to. Communication is key so if a vendor doesn't have great communication throughout a styled shoot and with a potential referral partner, then why would I even consider them?
3 - Be ready to plan!
Styled shoots take just as much communication and planning as any event. Make sure that your vision comes across to your vendors, that they are in the loop of any changes, they have the latest production schedule, they know the loading in/out information if there is any, parking information (again, if there is any), everyone has each other's social media handles, etc.
4 - Create a shot list and a production schedule
Shot lists are key! Work with your photographer to come up with this. What areas are you going to shoot in? How many outfits? What details need to be shot? For example: Up close photo of the floral arrangements or maybe a flat lay of the stationary. What type of photos do you need? Some might include Facebook covers, profile pics, horizontal/vertical shots, photos of you setting up, having a conversation with someone as if you were "at work", etc.
Production schedules are also key. They aren't just for weddings or music shows, they are essential in styled shoots too. It allows for you to set the tone to the other vendors. It also gives everyone a ballpark of when things should be wrapped up. HINT: Things take longer than you expect so be realistic. For example, don't think that shoots will only be 4 hours if you have models, few different outfits, etc. Work with your photographer to create this as they know best how long it will take them to shoot. SIDE NOTE: Every photographer's shoot time is different. Also, touch base with the hair and makeup artist too. They know best how long it will take to get everything done prior to the "1st look". This is crucial! They set the tone for the day so if they run over prep time, it will affect the rest of the day.
5 - Arrive early
Styled shoots can be stressful. Just like an event day, it's good to arrive early so you're able to unload all your things, setup what you need to and take a breather before all the vendors start arriving.
Once the shoot starts, just watch for wrinkles, that everything is symmetrical and straight, etc. Practice makes perfect 😉 And if all fails or becomes too much, you now know of an event consultant that offers it as a service 🤣
Hope this helps! Till next time,
Photo credits: Photographer- McKeehen Photography, Floral- our in-house florist Lara Cornell, Decor- Style Society, Venue- Keystone Weddings & Events