Weddings: My Styled Shoot
Over the past few years, we have seen the emergence of styled shoots within the wedding industry. They provide an opportunity for wedding planners and other vendors to share their creative talents on wedding blogs and within print publications. Styled shoots are also beloved by readers, who use them as inspiration when planning their own weddings. However, they also serve many purposes for the participating vendors. They allow us to:
- Showcase our talents in order to attract potential clients
- Affirm our company brand to help establish our place within the market
- Reach out beyond our own local market into the international arena
- Build additional portfolio work
- Garner respect among fellow vendors who can then refer our services
- Establish relationships with other vendors involved with the shoot
- Support local vendors and help them get their name out in the market
- Push the limits of creativity
- Learn from our mistakes and successes
Last year it became increasingly obvious to me that I needed to design and coordinate a couple of styled shoots, since I had never done it before. My particular focus was two-fold: I wanted to refine my portfolio in order to redirect my brand to a certain clientele, and I wanted to create more publishing opportunities for my company outside my own immediate market. With that in mind, I set out to design two shoots, one of which I’d like to show you today! This shoot was hosted in one of the suites at the Westin Ottawa; we had the most fabulous team pulling everything together.
When I designed this shoot, I took inspiration from the main lobby of the hotel. There are large potted birch trees in the window and an incredible fireplace and crystal globe chandeliers (pictured below), which made for a great winter shoot backdrop. I wanted it to feel warm, intimate, understated, a bit urban, sexy, and very classy. These are all attributes that fit my brand as well as the blog on which I wanted the shoot to be published. So instead of going with a typical winter color palette like blue/brown or silver/blue I went with a warm, inviting palette of oranges/pinks/reds. Another consideration when assigning the color palette was the existing orange already in the suite. I knew I had to integrate that strong color if we were to use that room or else it would just look too misplaced!
With my color palette in mind, I then began to focus on the details of the shoot. My jumping off point was an image I had seen on etsy.com, featuring a variety of really cool white vases. I’m a sucker for juxtaposition, and wanted to feature something sleek, smooth, and urban paired with a more natural, earthy element, like wood.
With my inspiration board created, I began by DIYing wooden risers and white vases for the dining table. With the help of a second-hand store and some Tremclad white paint, I was able to create some lovely, contemporary vessels. I used styrofoam blocks and wood veneer planks to build the risers for the cake, candles, and vases to sit. Next I gathered our fine vendor team!
Other than the design itself, gathering the team is the most crucial step. The team I assembled had to mirror my own brand, exhibit exceptional work, be reliable and professional, have a strong reputation, be easy to work with, and be available for the shoot date – three days after Christmas. It took several hours each day to pull the vendor details together and coordinate everything. It was almost like planning a wedding. The level of commitment was huge and I don’t recommend this to anyone who isn’t able to devote the time required to pull it all off to perfection. Coordination efforts included vendor meetings, proofing stationary, DIYing vases and dishes, sourcing and purchasing supplies, and much more. Despite all that, the payoff is so worth it and we are thrilled with the results of our shoot!
At this point, I should mention the importance of choosing the right photographer. Not only do you need to find a photographer who reflects your own brand and style, you also need someone very adept at capturing details. The photographer will need to capture close-ups of the small, sensory-rich items you’ve created for the shoot, and the simple fact is that this is not most photographers’ strength. Barbara Ann Cameron shot our images and we couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. She did an amazing job and really captured the feel of the shoot that I had envisioned all along!
I’ve featured a few images from the shoot to share with you today. After editing and selecting, we ended up with between 150 and 200 final shots that we submitted to our blog of choice. When designing your shoot and choosing where you’ll submit, be very aware of their submission rules beforehand. The blog to which we submitted demands exclusivity, meaning that we couldn’t share these images with anyone until the blog post went live. They also suggested a range of shots, so we were mindful to ensure that we provided them with enough images so they could make a solid selection from their end. Also, knowing the publication, we were aware that they like multiple shots of the same detail, shot at different angles and orientations.
This is the lobby shot I referred to, which sets the tone for the winter shoot. Barbara is highly skilled at posing models and this was a huge plus for me so I could achieve the sexy, urban, polished look I so wanted!
The tablescape included a variety of flower types all in the color range of the shoot. The repetition of the white vases, service wear, and place card holders created continuity in the shoot while the multitude of flowers used created variety and visual interest.
I wanted the cake to be an understated, contemporary design and I think we achieved it beautifully! The very talented florist created these beautiful carnation beds for the shoot and we used them several times in a multitude of ways, including a cake plateau.
Over the table in the suite were these fabulous boxed fixtures that were just screaming for decor. We hung Mokara orchids from the center of each fixture to achieve this amazing floral canopy over the table. You can see the wonderful repetition of the fixtures captured in this photo as well!
We featured letterpress stationery in this shoot. I chose letterpress because it’s stunning, tactile, and high-end. We wanted a finer paper product that was simply stated and modern and I think that was accomplished with the square motif and bold font. They’ve also incorporated the wood-grain element in the invitation, again to achieve continuity, and carried that same motif throughout the various pieces.
The florist we worked with is very imaginative and created something contemporary and a bit edgy for the bridal bouquet. When I first showed her the inspiration board, she knew that something like this would work very well for the feel we were creating in the shoot. She was so right!
There are dozens more images that I could share with you, but I hope these give you a feel for our shoot and some inspiration for what you can achieve in your own. Looking back at both of the shoots I did last year, I am really pleased with the end results. They both reflected my brand, allowed me to connect with vendors whose work I adore, and were both publishable, which was the end goal! Before entering into a styled shoot commitment, remember that it takes a lot of to pull it all together effectively. There are also costs involved that you must be aware of. For my shoot, costs included:
- Decor details
- Half of the flower costs (the florist shared the other half)
- Lunch and refreshments for the vendor team on shooting day
- Thank you notes for the vendor team and gift cards
Fortunately, many of the direct costs involved in the shoot (e.g. stationery) were absorbed by the various vendors in return for credit within the publication, which is great. But there are still costs involved and a huge commitment of time and effort, so be prepared. Also be prepared to be very pleased with the results of your efforts after the shoot! It’s a lot of fun allowing your imaginations to come up with concepts that you might not otherwise be able to achieve within your usual contracts.
With wedding season upon us, I’m back to my usual routine. No time for styled shoots for me, but best of luck with yours!
All images courtesy of Barbara Ann Studios.
Written by Lynn Lee
Lynn Lee has over 10 years experience in the event and wedding planning industry. These days, she’s focusing her attention on her growing wedding planning business, Weddings Unveiled. Her weekly blog posts include business tips, wedding trends, and expert advice.