How to Plan a Successful Styled Shoot | Education for Photographers

One of the biggest questions I’ve heard recently is how to plan a successful styled shoot! I LOVE styled shoots. I believe they can be so beneficial and profitable if they’re done correctly! Instead of just paying to be apart of one with several other photographers, you CAN organize your own! But before spending the time planning one, it’s important to know HOW it will help you! Here are a few reasons I LOVE styled shoots and how they help me:

Vendor Relations.

I’m able to meet and work with a variety of vendors and build relationships with them! Even if we haven’t done an actual wedding together, it still builds trust! Sometimes I work with vendors I’ve already worked with and loved getting to deepen that relationship and work further with them!


I always shoot styled shoots with the purpose of being published! First off, this is one of the things I tell the vendors will happen (this will be covered later)! This also helps me to reach even more people, and the planner can style the shoot based on top trends to allow publication to be even easier with few limitations since it’s staged.


One main reason publication is helpful is it boosts my SEO! I’m no expert at this (I highly recommend Davey & Krista’s Inquiry Systems Course ( to learn more about this) but my simple definition to SEO is how easy it is for people to find you on Google! After the shoot is published, I’ll also publish it on my own blog! If it’s a venue I haven’t photographed a wedding at, I still can pop up when brides are searching online for that venue by publishing the styled shoot on my own blog!


Again, even if I haven’t shot an actual wedding at a venue, I’ll still have amazing content to share across social media and my blog for future brides to see! This can lead to bookings at this venue!

But this also builds my portfolio content! Since styled shoots have more time to have things styled perfectly and I can take my time, it allows me to be creative and build an even more beautiful portfolio showcasing what I can offer!

Higher Reach.

And since I’m sending all of the best images to the vendors involved, I’m able to not only reach my followers, but their followers too! For example, a venue might share the images from the styled shoot. Since venues are one of the first things a bride books, she might be searching that venue to see if it matches her style, and also fall in love with my photography showcasing it! It’s a win win!

Ready for some tips on HOW to plan & photograph a styled shoot?

Choose vendors carefully.

My goal is to reach my ideal client! So I want to work with other vendors also attracting the same ideal client! This way it helps us both, and we know our styles will compliment each other! I want to choose venues my ideal brides would LOVE and are searching for online (and then see my work from that venue!)! This is also true for each vendor!

Hire a planner.

This is by far the BIGGEST piece of advice for you! Have a professional work on getting some beautiful furniture, setting the tables, and create the overall style! This is especially true for me since I’m NOT a planner! I can help keep things running on-time on a wedding day, but designing a wedding day is not my strength! Planners also have access to resources I don’t, like complimentary rentals, amazing vendors they know would be a great fit for our theme, and allow me to focus on shooting creatively!

Make it a win-win!

This needs to benefit everyone involved! Here’s how I do this without breaking the bank!

When I reach out to vendors, I share with them what we’ll be doing, the venue we’ll be doing it, that they’ll receive the gallery of beautiful images after, that I will submit it until it is published, and that they will be mentioned whenever images from the shoot are posted on social media!

I say this up front, so vendors often donate their services and time because they love beautiful images of their work, and want to reach even more brides (just like I do!)! But be sure you are conveying the value they’ll have from donating their time and services!

Shoot for publication!

Publishers LOVE unique details! So it’s important to capture these- even more than the actual models!! Make sure each part of the design aspects are captured well! When submitting, make sure there are PLENTY images showcasing details! I’d even say 50% of the images submitted from a styled shoot should showcase details!

Give gifts to vendors.

Even though so many donate their services and time for free, make sure they receive a thoughtful gift! I’ve worked with vendors who normally charge thousands of dollars for their services. Their gift is not thousands of dollars (I wish I could do that!), but I do try to make sure everyone who participated gets a thank you gift! This allows the last interaction with me to be positive and let them know how much I truly appreciate their help!!

Send out the Instagram handle tags to everyone after.

Since I tell them up front they will be mentioned, I want to be sure I make it easy for everyone to tag the other vendors! I create a list of the vendors and their Instagram handles that can just be copied and pasted into the caption!

Follow through!

Send out the images sooner than later to the vendors so they can start sharing, start submitting (this process can take months! I tell the vendors this up front!), and make sure you tag all of the vendors! This way they can even share your posts on their Instagram stories! Work hard so they know you are the BEST vendor in your field they’ve ever worked with! Not by saying that, but by working hard, being kind and easy to work with (so important on a wedding day), and providing them with beautiful images they can share to showcase their work!

I hope this helps as you begin planning your next styled shoot!

Images from styled shoot:

Planner | Katie Williams Events

Venue | The Barn at Sitton Hill Farm

Jewelry | For the Love of Bling

Florals | Spring Vine

Rentals | Professional Party Rentals

Model | Amanda Purvis

Makeup | Cindy McGrath





How to Plan a Successful Styled Shoot | Education for Photographers



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