When I started out as a stationer and calligrapher, I struggled to get beautiful images of my work and was given the advice to participate in free styled shoots. There are thousands of these hosted around the country year round, many are submitted for publication on blogs and in print magazines, and you don’t pay anything out of pocket for the images.
What is a Styled Shoot?
If you haven’t heard of or participated in a styled shoot before, the concept is pretty straight forward: it’s like a fake mini wedding organized by an event planner or photographer to expand their portfolio, practice their craft, and have beautiful galleries to show to potential clients. Usually all the vendors in the shoot give their time and talents for free in exchange for photos that they can use in their own marketing. This includes dress designers, florists, models, bakers, and stationers.
Styled shoots sound like a win all around, but what I learned very quickly is that while there is potential for beautiful images that will serve your business well, more often than not the images of your work will be disappointing, poorly styled, and even completely forgotten.
I participated in dozens of these free styled shoots and only a few times received images that I was able to use to promote my stationery business. The fact of the matter is that free styled shoots are not created for stationers. They are for the benefit of the photographer to gain practice and grow their portfolio. Your stationery is thought of (and treated as) a prop and an opportunity for the photographer or planner of the shoot to practice their flatlay skills.
With that in mind, if you decide to participate in a free styled shoot there are a number of things you can do in advance to have a great experience like requesting a moodboard from the organizer, communicating expectations, and providing a shot list.
Styled shoots, though free, can be expensive to participate in when you account for your time and materials creating a custom invitation suite and there are no guarantee that the shoot will be a success. However, by following this checklist and communicating expectations clearly with the organizers, your odds of success are much better.
Let me know how this checklist works for you and if you have any questions about free styled shoots comment below.
Until next time, Juliana Mary