Fun fact: I have about 20 drafts of blogs that I’ve never published. This is the first of them, written about a year ago.
I feel like before I get into this blog, I need to shout something from the rooftops for you all. A styled shoot should never EVER be presented like a real wedding. Ever. You all know how much I love a styled shoot. I love taking each and every piece and finding a way to make it all work together. Bringing together vendors with their own sets of skills and creativity to bring a vision to life better than I could’ve dreamed. There is something that’s happening in our industry, though, and I don’t like it. Styled shoots are NOT live events.
Styled shoots should be intended to be used for the purpose of inspiration, for the purpose of showing clients new ideas, breaking out the creativity and doing something that you know people need to see to appreciate. You should be using them as a way to better your SEO, whether it be through getting published, or blogging about the experience of working with a (hopefully) new set of vendors.
I was given the opportunity through ILEA Hampton Roads to be the co-chair of their Gala committee for the first time a year ago. While I was flattered, the first thing that I prefaced was: “I don’t do live events. I’m not quite sure I can pull this off.” Truth be told, I absolutely would NOT have pulled it off if it hadn’t been for those on the committee that do weddings every weekend, and understand things like ABC licenses, floor plans, logistical issues like parking and load in and load out. Heck, once we got started, I didn’t even really know how to make a budget for it, because I knew that there would be expenses that I don’t normally have to deal with.
How the Gala Happened
While I may have co-chaired the Gala committee, it was every single person on that team who made sure that it went off as beautifully as it did. I basically had a cool idea of what I wanted to happen, but logistically, Courtney Pollard with Stage Right Lighting made sure that the vision was brought to life in a way that was both beautiful and made sense for how set-up and breakdown could happen. Rebecca Norfleet and Alyse Conyers with Waterford Event Rentals coordinated how the tables got to the venue, what linens we could use, and made sure that invitations went out in a timely manner. Staci Jelley with Chef by Design served as help with making sure that set-up went beautifully, and that we had valet parking for our guests via Express Valet.
Jennifer Cregar with Sweetwater Cuisine not only created a decadent menu, but also made sure that we had the know-how on how to create an open bar for 75 people (including getting an ABC license). She also coordinated the DJ (Astro Entertainment) and Photo Booth (All Star Photobooth) for us. I helped with over all stuff – whether it be chatting with Chic Unique Vintage Rentals about the place settings, Jollity & Co. about the acrylic menus on the table, Isha Foss about her stunning centerpieces, Dragon Studio about the photography – anything that was pretty, I knew I could handle. And let me tell you about Emily Miller with Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront. She sat with me to help develop a timeline. We came up with logistics, a budget, a timeline, a checklist – basically, she was my go-to person when it came to making sure that everything went off without a hitch.
The same goes for the gala this year. I recently wrote a blog about the most recent gala that you can see here.
Was our gala gorgeous? Yes. What it spurred in me, though, is that I keep seeing shoots (that I KNOW are styled), presented as actual events on social media. Don’t do that! It’s not as simple as you think. Styled shoots are the perfect representation of what can happen if everything goes beautifully. No one can perfectly control their environment at a real event like you can a styled shoot. Is it raining? Awesome, let’s move it to tomorrow. I’m pretty sure someone won’t let you do that on a wedding day.
I love doing a styled shoot – I love getting to bring inspiration to life. It’s the perfect opportunity to showcase things that may not have been done before (which to me, is the real reason to do a styled shoot). Beyond that, do a styled shoot to build your portfolio, to have content images that match the things that you WANT to be doing; however, please don’t make it look like anything other than what it is: a perfectly controlled environment for a photoshoot.
Styled shoots are great for networking, SEO, and getting published. They’re a perfect way to meet a group of business owners that you don’t already know (or maybe you do!). Styled shoots are amazing to build content for Facebook, Instagram, and more. They’re great to get published, be creative, showcase something new and different to show your potential clients. I LOVE a styled shoot for all the awesome opportunities it can bring. Just make sure that you’re taking advantage of them in the right way.
Let me know what you think! Sound off in the comments here or on Facebook.