As stationery designers, we often get asked to add our paper to a styled shoot that some other wedding vendor has designed…wedding planner, florist or even photographer. Years ago, I had the novel idea to design my own styled shoot…and boy was I a newbie! Why? Well, I did everything myself…paper, yes, but, I even did the flowers, and I am by NO way a florist…by any stretch of the imagination. I bought dishes, flatware and glassware from IKEA. I scouted my own free location in a park and the furniture was picnic table on the top of a mountain overlooking a valley. I shared the day with my amazing friends and photographers, Liz and Ryan, along with Amie Decker from Amie Decker Beauty, who was not only our bride, but also the hair and make up artist. She also provided her own dress and veil. Oh, and did I mention the groom was Ryan – one of the photogs! And, there were about a million gnats and a half million stink bugs (some which decided to come home with me in the paper flower bouquet). But even with all that work and craziness, the images were absolutely amazing. My vision came to life. I was in LOVE! And, it didn’t hurt that Southern Weddings published the shoot a few months later.
Since that first shoot, I have designed or participated in over 40 styled shoots. I adore getting to see a vision come to life and as a stationery designer, it provides me the opportunity to go over the top with the paper.
Today, I’m sharing three big tips to help in designing your first styled shoot.
We all have big ideas that are floating around in our heads — I think it is the blessing and curse of a creative mind. You will need to sit down and give your big idea form. I like to start with an inspiration — for my first shoot, I just knew that cherry red and turquoise was an awesome color combination and I never saw it used in weddings or blogs. Once you have your inspiration, build your idea around it. You have to ensure your idea is solid, marketable and clear. I like to create a Pinterest board with about 10 photos that show the key design elements — flowers, tablescape, bride’s dress, groom’s attire, stationery, details and location. Don’t go overboard! Then, write a short paragraph that explains your idea clearly, but don’t forget to throw in a healthy dose of excitement and inspiration for others. Also, determine where you would like to submit the photos from the shoot. Do your research and check out what the blog is looking for, at this time, or the overall style of the weddings they feature.
You might be nervous about asking another wedding vendor to provide their services, for free, for your big idea. And, honestly, it is hard, but start with one vendor that you have a close relationship with — either as a mentor or fellow styled shoot first timer. I recommend sending your short paragraph, along with a link to the Pinterest board and finally, your thoughts on where you would like to submit the photos to them. Always be humble, appreciative and enthusiastic too! Once you have one vendor, you can leverage their contacts for other members and also let other vendors know who else is working with you on the shoot. Chances are you will start filling in the blanks pretty quickly and the hardest part will be finding models for the shoot!
After the shoot is over, send a BIG thank you to all the vendors involved and continue to keep everyone involved with the status of the shoot. While you are waiting patiently for the photos from your photographer, take a few moments to write a summary of your styled shoot. Typically blogs will request a little back story on the shoot — how the idea emerged, more specifics on styling elements and of course, a full listing of all vendors involved with their contact information. Pick the blog that fits best for your shoot and submit there first. Most blogs require exclusivity, so submit one at a time. Make sure you know how the photos should be submitted and what should be included. You’ll need to work with the photographer to choose the required number of photos and submit them appropriately. Also, remember not to share any professional photos from the shoot on your website or blog, prior to the shoot being published. Sneak peeks and phone photos shared on social media are okay! Make sure all the vendors involved know that rule and be sure to let them know the results of the submission, as soon as you get them!
Now, go bring those big ideas to life!! Oh, and below are some photos from my first styled shoot. Can’t wait to see yours!