October 15, 2021
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” -Neil Gaiman
I’m a Type A person who doesn’t like making mistakes.
But, if there’s anything I’ve gained a fresh perspective of the hard way, it’s making mistakes.
Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’ve failed or that you should quit or that you’re not meant to do whatever it is you were trying to do–– it’s just a “learning opportunity.” 😉
Today I want to actually share some of my mistakes with you (which doesn’t feel great, but I hope you learn so much from them!) In the past years of planning and photographing styled shoots, I have made my fair share of mistakes. Here are the biggest ones that I had big “aha moments” from!
Budgeting. It’s not the first thing you want to do when you’re envisioning that beautiful styled shoot mood board and imagining a 6ft floral arch for the ceremony images.
But, it actually IS the first thing you need to do! And I wish I would have known this sooner.
I made the mistake of either putting my vision before my budget, or not budgeting at all and just buying whatever I thought would be epic at the shoot, hoping that eventually I’d make the money back in bookings (not quite a thoughtful strategy, Shelby!)
By result, there were some shoots when I was first getting started where I lost quite a bit of money when it was all said and done.
Now, of course, sometimes it’s okay to do a styled shoot and allot a certain amount of marketing budget to it because you know you’re going to be using it for content and marketing and such. However, the key is to have a real strategy for the shoot and an actual budget that fits your current financial situation.
Another mistake I made was focusing so much on the pretty pictures aspect of the styled shoot that I neglected to prioritize creating images that really served the vendors I was working with. While I may have given them images that were beautiful and they were still able to use them for content, the point is that I didn’t put the vendors first before my vision.
For example, if you work with a hair stylist and don’t get detailed shots of the model’s hair from all angles, that’s not prioritizing the vendor and his/her work that she did for your shoot. Sure, maybe you got a ton of gorgeous images of the model in her dress and with the flowers and such, but what that stylist could have really used was some images that focused just on THEIR work and what they put into the shoot.
Don’t make this mistake like I did! Without vendors, styled shoots are not possible, and many vendors cut their costs down or even do some labor for free, which means you REALLY should be trying to go above and beyond to serve them so that they receive a great ROI for their time!
This one feels like such a silly mistake! But, I know there are others that fall into this trap:
We do an awesome styled shoot and take tons of content. We’ve got pretty photos coming out of our ears.
We post a sneak peek or preview and maybe a few more images here and there, mostly just on Instagram.
And then we feel like, “ugh, I can’t keep sharing these, I need to share something new.” And then we just let them sit on the hard drive.
This is a mistake! There are so many different ways to share these photos, besides just posting them on Instagram. I have learned that the best way for me to get a great ROI on my styled shoots is to share them wherever I can: posting on Instagram, sharing to Facebook, putting them on my website, sharing them on a blog post, sending them to vendors, AND submitting them for publication!
I know submitting for publication takes a lot of time and sometimes brain power, but it’s worth it. Even if you get denied from various publications for months, it’s worth it to keep trying. I got off of the publication train and totally stopped submitting for a while…
However, I did a styled shoot with a planner who was super motivated to get our shoot published not that long ago. She submitted for months and did NOT give up. To my delighted surprise, our shoot ended up in a magazine in less than 12 months! That was enough to convince me that it’s 100% worth it to at least try and submit the shoot to 6 publications before deciding whether or not to not publish the content.
Alright friend, I hope that you enjoyed reading my three biggest mistakes when it comes to styled shoots! If you are hoping to get into styled shoots more but don’t know where to begin, I encourage you to join the waitlist for our upcoming course about how to host workshops! Even if you’re not sure if workshops are something you’re ready to jump into, we have a whole module that just goes over how to plan, design, and budget a successful styled shoot.
Want to sign up? CLICK HERE!
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We're Shelby & Jared, Springfield MO wedding photographers passionate about meaningful living. We document timeless moments for free-spirited, elegant couples across the Midwest and beyond. As fine art photographers, we strive to create work that will leave a legacy of love for years to come.
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