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Should I Do This Styled Shoot?

Styled shoots seem to have wedding pros divided into two camps. There are those that love them and shout their benefits from the mountaintops; then, there are those who see them as a big headache for minimal gain.

Sure, they can be an excellent way to market your work to new audiences with the bonus of connecting with creative peers. Not every shoot is the same—and, seeing that it’s an investment of your time and resources, you need to be sure that it’s the right fit before signing on. Jumping onto the wrong shoot can be a poor decision for the business, so you must be more discerning and look beyond your gut feeling.

Here are a few questions to help you identify whether a styled shoot is worth your investment.

What is the vision?

Start by getting a feel for the design aesthetic: the colors, the setting, the tablescapes, and the main components that they want to use. What vibe are they trying to create? You need to be sure the look is compatible with your portfolio and that it will be fresh, new addition to your work. Make sure all the details have been considered, and the organizers have thought it through beyond a basic mood board.

What is the media plan?

This is one of the most critical questions you need to answer. Before saying yes or no, you need to know that they have a plan in place, and you need to know if it’s realistic. Without a strong plan, the submission side of the shoot may be destined to drag out for months or, worse, never see the light of day. Check the proposed media outlets to confirm that they feature styled shoots regularly and whether the theme has been covered before. If they don’t check out, there’s a good chance they haven’t seriously considered the PR side of things.

For your benefit, you will also want to review the chosen media outlets to ensure that they are a good fit for your brand. Your investment will be no good if the shoot is published on a site that doesn’t reach your target audience.

What is the timeline?

A styled shoot shouldn’t get in the way of your regular business, so you need to ensure that the timeline fits in with your current workload.

• Are you given ample time to put it together?

• When will you receive the professional images?

• What’s the timeframe for submission? When can you share the photos?

All of these questions can help you determine whether the shoot is worth your time.

Who is involved?

You will be working closely with everyone involved, so you need to know that you can do so without any drama. Start by getting to know the organizer(s). Look at portfolios and their client reviews. Ask them about previous styled shoot successes to ensure they are experienced in this area. Be sure that your goals are aligned before signing on.

Then, you’ll want to look at the other key players in the game. Would you want to work with them at an event? Are they well-established with good reputations? Will you have opportunities to connect with new people to grow your network? Styled shoots are just as much about vendor collaboration as it is about curating designs, so be sure you know whom you’re signing up to work with.

What are the photo guidelines?

If you aren’t the photographer, you’ll need to know the details around the images. Will you have access to the photos? If so, when? How will those files be distributed? Can they guarantee that you will get close-ups of the work you contributed? There’s no point joining a styled shoot if your work can only be seen in the background of several photos. You deserve recognition, so make sure you’ll receive it!

You’ll also want to check on the rules regarding image sharing, especially during the submission process. Will you be allowed to share them online? How about offline (e.g., in client meetings)? Confirm the crediting expectations, too. In addition to photos, you’ll want to reap the benefits of other wedding pros promoting your business and vice versa.

It’s human nature to worry about saying “no” and the optics behind passing on an opportunity. Remember that there is power in the word “because”—as long as you can logically explain why it’s not a fit, you will come out of it fine. Leave the door open for other opportunities and never lose sight of your brand values.

Meghan Ely

President, OFD Consulting, Richmond, VA

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Photo: Melody Smith Portraits