I’ve spoken of the seemingly endless benefits of styled shoots many times. From getting to have complete creative control over your sessions, to creating the exact photos you’d love to take every time you went to a shoot with a client, to building community and contacts within the wedding industry that may pay off in the future. Styled shoots are one of the best ways to take control of your career when you’re ready to transition from taking on just any client and any shoot to intentionally curating the exact photos you’ve dreamed of.
When you’re able to put together your dream styled shoot, that’s when you’ll really come alive as a photographer. When you come alive, your passion flows, and soon the clients you’ve been waiting for will see your work and won’t be able to deny themselves the pleasure of working with you. And they’ll be your ideal client. It’s what we dream of as photographers and styled shoots are how we make this happen.
When putting together a styled shoot, it’s more than just finding a couple (or models), picking a place to photograph, and then hoping for the best. The entire goal of our session is to create valuable content that will win us the kind of business we want. If we want to win business, then we need to better understand who is going to respond to and engage with our content. We need to understand who our ideal clients are and create content that both attracts them and represents us. One of the best ways to do this is by approaching the right vendors for your styled shoot.
Sourcing vendors is a lot like making new friends. First, you have to find people who are excited to work with you and who you will enjoy being with along the way. Styled sessions involve so much work behind the scenes that you need to find people who will give you their best and contribute to and support the team. Surrounding yourself with positive and inspired people is one of the most important and overlooked steps in creating something amazing.
Before you even ask a vendor to collaborate, do your homework. Get familiar with the person and their work. Through the power of social media, we can start to follow and engage with someone without ever formally meeting them, and to establish some form of relationship before requesting a collaboration.
I know we all like the convenience of social media. Liking some photos on their feed then sending a quick DM asking if they’d want to collaborate in a shoot seems like a simple way to go but trust me when I say it’s not. You want to come across as a professional and be able to include key bits of information when reaching out. Sending a DM on Instagram or Facebook doesn’t put your best foot forward and that is what we want.
Showing value is fundamental, especially when you first approach a person to ask them for something. To hook them in, tell them what the value of working with you will be, and what they can take away from the experience. In other words, make sure to always approach this as a collaboration among equal players! This isn’t ‘I want something good for me’, it’s ‘let’s work together to create something amazing we will all be proud of and will bring us business’.
No one likes when they get an email where they read it and think to themselves after, ‘I don’t even understand what they are asking for’. It’s essential that you are not too vague. Be clear and concise as to what you are proposing and what you are asking of that person. Include a vision board if you have one so they understand what you are looking for so they can get behind the vision for the shoot. This can also help them decide if it’s something they’d like to take part in. If it’s not their style, it makes it easier for them to pass without wasting time with back and forth communication that may end in a no later on.
Be confident in what you are talking about and be strategic in asking for what you need.
Don’t be shy or nervous! The worst-case scenario is that they say no and you’re right back where you started. From there you can revisit other vendors you love and try again.
Styled shoots are fun, a lot of work, very rewarding and will be a great experience when you work with vendors aligned with your vision who are as invested as you are in bringing to life the dream you have as a team. Vendors quickly become your friends in the industry and working together is a way to bring a team spirit to every future event you end up at together. Put these tips to use and you’ll be approaching vendors in a professional manner that will make them take you seriously and be excited about the opportunity to work with you.
Lilly & Vic