As you may have heard, I have a lot of feelings about styled shoots. As a former wedding stationer and calligrapher, I participated in dozens of styled shoots and was on the receiving end of every scenario – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the completely forgotten (yes, sometimes the stationery is forgotten completely!)
Early in my career, I had no idea how to get the images I needed to post on Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy, or on my website. The mockups that were available at the time were okay and got me started building my shop but when I wanted to do a specialty technique like handpainted edges or applying gold leaf, I knew the real images were the only way to go. Then, I heard about styled shoots and thought to myself “hooray! professional photographers are going to style and photograph my work FOR FREE? This is amazing! Too good to be true!” and you know what? 90% of the time that’s exactly what it was. Too good to be true.
The images I got back often looked like this…
The images I’d receive back from styled shoots were often poorly styled, blown out, my stationery would be mixed with someone else’s work, or completely forgotten (and don’t get me started on the lack of brand consistency. When you do a styled shoot you cannot edit the images to match your aesthetic so you are at the will of the photographer and ultimately putting the visuals of your brand into a hundred different hands with zero creative control. Not good.) Ouf.
Now, you might be thinking I’m a total styled shoot hater. Which, to be fair, would be pretty accurate. BUT (and this is a big but!) there are times a styled shoot can be beneficial, fun, and helpful for your business to participate. I’ve put together a handy dandy flow chart to help you know when to participate or when to pass!