Let’s get right down to it: are styled editorials or styled shoots worth the effort, time and expense?
My short answer is yes! As long as you set reasonable expectations and realistic goals.
Here’s the long and short of it: if you’re only doing a styled shoot in the hopes of it being published, you probably shouldn’t do one. When it comes to publications the problem is that there is a real influx of styled shoots and print publications are becoming few and far in between. But, if you’re wanting to do a styled shoot for marketing, social media, making connections, or a whole host of other great reasons, go for it!
So what are these reasons? Why do a styled editorial?
So you’ve decided to go ahead and plan a styled editorial. What’s next?
My recommendation for approaching other vendors is to start to build a relationship with them before you reach out about a shoot. Start following them on social media, liking and commenting on their posts and responding to their stories. Then once you do reach out about working together, they will recognize your name and possibly will have already done a dive into your social media profiles and website and will know if it’s a good fit.
Be strategic about which vendors you work with and the planning for the shoot. When you reach out to various vendors you need to make sure they’re all aligned with the same look – with the same ideal client – by looking at their branding and trends. It’s helpful to create a design deck as well (a vision board with all vendors and their inspiration as well as ideas for each shot) and make sure everyone is on board with it before the shoot. Styled shoots are a time investment as well as a financial one so having a shot list before the shoot day helps to make sure you get everything you wanted out of the shoot. This also applies to thinking of how you’re going to be marketing your shoot afterwards and making sure you have the right shots for that!
Culling images after the shoot is incredibly important. It’s a thoughtful touch to send out personalized galleries to each vendor, but remember that many non-photographer vendors in the wedding industry aren’t pros at knowing which shots are the best. As a photographer it’s your job to make sure you include the best 100 or so photos in the final gallery so you’re pushing out your best work and so are the vendors.
Be realistic with yourself about the costs before you decide to be a part of a styled shoot. If you’ve been asked to be a part of a shoot as a collaborator make sure that the time and money you are going to sink into it is worth the final product. If you are the organizer, be aware of the many unexpected costs. Even if you have a team of vendors who will work for free there are still many under-the-radar costs like insurance, venue, and shipping of details like stationary. This is another case where having a strategic plan and shot list helps see where costs are coming from and make sure all time and resources are used efficiently.
My last and biggest recommendation is to use a real couple for your styled shoot and to tell a cohesive story with your photos. Each image and detail should feel like it’s supposed to be there and is a larger part of the whole. It’s important not just to have a vision board with a color palette and inspiration images but a storyboard, giving the couple and the details a background story, even if they are models. Having a real couple brings out genuine emotion and shows your skills in what you can evoke as a photographer. Filtering in real moments into styled shoots is so important and helps set you apart. Don’t forget that if you’re going to be submitting to a print publication they will only be using the best 8-12 shots – most of them unique details. Having thoughtful cohesive details will help you stand apart from other submissions.
Styled editorials are a great way to practice and perfect skills while building relationships in the industry and creating content that represents you and your brand. Making sure you have a strategy in place is so important for getting the most out of your styled shoot. It’s a great opportunity to create something that is truly special to you!
Check out more images from this styled editorial that I produced for Showit United’s 2019 conference.
If you want to listen to a more in depth podcast episode on styled shoots, head over to this post and give it a listen!
A shout out to the best team ever!
Creative Direction, Production + Speaker: Sarah Kay Love
Photography: Rebecca Yale
Brand Design, Welcome Bag, Pillows, Paper Goods and Popsicles: Cecile’s Paper Co.
Cake: Mae Flour Cakes
Florals: Bloom and Blueprint
Flatlay Surfaces: Chasing Stone
Videographer: Good Vibes Media