Lilly Red Photography captured model wearing bridal gown in Lake Como for styled shoot

3 Reasons Why You’re Doing Styled Shoots Wrong (and How to Do Them Right!)

Any true photographer knows that styled shoots are the gateway to getting noticed and to getting paid. Whether it’s gaining exposure to make a commission through paid ads, or showing potential clients just how great you really are, styled shoots are the way to go. But there’s a definite science to doing a proper styled shoot. 

To move beyond a styled shoot that’s simply a great photo, you’ll have to go a little deeper into the planning and development stages. Keep reading for exactly why you’re doing styled shoots wrong, and what you can do to make sure you’re doing them right.

Reason #1 Why You’re Doing Styled Shoots Wrong: You’re Not Creating Content for Your Target Audience

Before you even think about conceptualizing a styled shoot, you have to identify the who of the equation. As in, who are you hoping will see these photos? And even more important, who are you hoping will love these photos? 

If you’re not thinking about who your styled shoot is for in the end, then your sessions may look as though they’re all over the place. Your style may not be consistent, which can deter clients from reaching out!

How to Do It Right: Find Your Ideal Client

While you’re planning your styled shoot, you have to keep that target audience in mind. Identify your ideal client, that person you’re hoping to catch the attention of with your styled shoot. Marketing your styled shoot toward this group will ultimately dictate the images you produce. 

Consider what kind of weddings you enjoy shooting. Think about the type of client you enjoy working with. Do you appreciate a bride that knows what she wants, or do you like a more laid back couple that lets you take the lead? Do you do better with a natural setting and an outdoor wedding? Or do you prefer a perfectly staged indoor event space? Answering questions like these will help you create a styled shoot setting that captures the eye of your target audience.

Another great way to learn more about your target audience is to identify people on social media that you know fit the profile of your ideal clients. It might be specific agencies you hope to work with or engaged couples. Maybe you have a few favorite wedding photographers or bloggers you use as inspo, too. Following all of these on social media and seeing the style that they’re into will help you further dive into your target audience profile. And, when you see what your target audience likes, you’ll be able to develop a styled shoot geared toward that specific avatar. 

Reason #2 Why You’re Doing Styled Shoots Wrong: You’re Styled Shoots are Lacking Intent and Purpose

This problem is two-fold. First, perfectly styled photos are just that. Perfectly styled photos. When there’s no purpose, potential clients, whether it’s the advertising work you want or the ideal wedding shoot, will be able to tell that your photos lack a deeper meaning.

The second part of this issue is that you’re not actually using your content in a way that ties it to your overall goal. It sounds simple, but you have to be sure you’re capturing images that are going to work for your purpose. For example, you might take a bazillion quality photos, but if none of them fit your Instagram grid, then they’re not going to bring in the likes and follows you want. Or, your images might be perfectly crafted for your grid, but your grid isn’t appealing to your target audience. 

So, before you throw a bunch of accessories together, book a model and start snapping, you have to very carefully plan out your reasoning behind the styled shoot. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time, money, and talent. 

How to Do It Right: Start With a Plan and Write Down Exactly What You Want Out of It

  • Do you want your styled shoots to bring in more clients? And not just any clients, but THE clients… you know, the kind you really want to work with.
  • Are you hoping to build your business with paid advertisements? 
  • Is your styled shoot for a blog series? Do you plan to use the images to supplement your blog copy and drive more site traffic?
  • Are you going to use these images for social media content? Do you hope to inspire others with your Pinterest-worthy photos or are you going to use them to further your own social media presence?

You have to make sure that your content is directed toward your audience, with your goal in mind. And then, you have to put your images to work. Make sure you use your images as social media content, incorporate them in your portfolio, and add them to your blog. 

Reason #3 Why You’re Doing Styled Shoots Wrong: Your Styled Shoots are Just Like Everyone Else’s

If you’re going into your styled shoots with the idea of creating photos that look just like everyone else’s, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Your goal needs to not only be to capture the photos you know your target audience will like. But to make them even better. You want to make sure your potential clients know you’re the expert. 

How to Do It Right: Create Something That Stands Out and Aligns With Your Style

Unique and valuable content should be the end result of every styled shoot. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with each shoot. And of course, there are certain images that will gain more popularity than others, so you don’t want to stray too far. But have a little confidence in your own ability to put together a styled shoot that will set you apart from the others, and put you into the minds of prospective clients. 

Lilly Red Academy Styled Shoot Guide eBook for destination wedding photographers

Are you ready to take your styled shoots to the next level? Click here to read The Ultimate Guide to Styled Shoots from Lilly Red, so you can stop wasting your time, money, and energy doing styled shoots all wrong.