We live in a world where we have easy access to so many ideas to expand our creativity in weddings. We have blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and heck, even Tik-Tok now! Sometimes, there is too much information at our fingertips.
I just want to begin with, I totally get how you feel right now: excited, overwhelmed, anxious, and I am sure at times, wanting to throw the towel in and just head to the courthouse.
What if I said - weddings don’t have to be this way?
I have seen both sides of the spectrum - Being a Bride and Being a Vendor.
Over the last year and a half, I have really taken a look at the message I put out in the world, how my couples feel, and how I want them to feel. Do they align? No, sadly they didn’t. And I noticed a common theme …. My couples feel as though their wedding is “less than and simply, not good enough.”
Isn’t that bullshit? How does one go from excitement and anticipation to feeling less then? Let me break it down for you: it is all those blogs, Pinterest, and social media that have contributed to it. And unfortunately, it all stems from those beautiful and dreamy Styled Shoots! This is why we have stepped away from the industry norms:
- WTF is a Styled Shoot anyways?
- What is the Purpose of a Styled Shoot?
- My Experience with Styled Shoots
- What You Should Be Asking + Looking For
- My Promise to You
- WTF is a Styled Shoot anyways?
As wedding professionals, we have what we call “in season” and “off season” months. Maine’s In-Season is considered during the months of May-October. The most popular months are August-October. During the off-season, we love to create inspirational content to help you with planning your wedding. Typically, they include some hot upcoming new trends! The benefit of these inspirational shoots aka Styled Shoots, is we get to work with vendors we haven’t worked with and want to or we have a really awesome connection with some and want to keep that going.
Styled shoots sometimes get published in blogs, magazines, and social media outlets. Popular wedding blogs that tend to share styled shoots are Junebug Weddings, Offbeat bride, Rock ‘N Roll Bride, Style Me Pretty, etc. I won’t go into the boring details of why we aim for bigger publications but in the end, it is because it makes it easier for you to find us on Google!
2. What the Heck is the Purpose of a Styled Shoot?
As a photography business, we start off taking anything and everything we can just to gain experience. During this time, we pay attention to what inspires us and who inspires us. Eventually, some businesses (like myself) end up specializing vs taking anything and everything.
From a business perspective, styled shoots help us create content to help us reach the eyes of people we want to work with! People that fuel our creativity. People that plain and simple are OUR people!
Styled Shoots also get our name out in the industry. They help us gain authority (in a sense). Sounds pretty awesome from a business perspective, right? I thought so too.
3. My Experience with Styled Shoots
When I started Meraki Portrait, I really thought my perfect client was a bohemian couple. Hell, the name Meraki is a bohemian term! It wasn’t long before I learned, I love the boho style but it wasn’t fueling my soul. I wasn’t creating my best work. I felt like everytime I participated in these Styled Shoots I was playing dress up or an adult version of Barbie.
There were only the models being photographed with no way of creating authentic moments because each shot needed to be “perfected” to highlight a special feature of each vendor. Every shot was completely meaningless. What they don’t tell you is that each shot taken, we have a hell of a lot of time! This is not reality people!
Actual weddings are pure fucking choas in the most beautiful way possible! Just to give you a perspective, a typical wedding will include up to 14 vendors in their wedding. THAT IS FREAKING NUTS! Picture 14 vendors walking in/out of your day, moving between ceremony location and reception. Now add you, your wedding party, family, and friends. Pure. Freakin. Chaos I tell you.
Styled Shoots we pause A LOT and make sure the flowers are positioned just right, the lighting is beyond perfect, the bar has a signature cocktail that is clean and precise, etc. The real world doesn’t have time to perfect these for hours on end. And the real world deals with mother nature and has to be quick on our toes.
Styled Shoots tend to show the extreme of details as well. If you were to get actual quotes on most of the items/details from a styled shoot, you would be MIND BLOWN at just how much money these perfect weddings would cost you in the end. A typical wedding in Maine will average about $30,000. Styled Shoots will most likely cost you more than that if you mimicked one.
No wonder you feel “less than!
4. What You Should Be Asking + Looking for in a Portfolio
As you research your photographer (or any vendor really), look at their portfolio. I also want you to know that it is really hard to distinguish if a photo is from a real wedding vs styled shoot. Photographers LOVE to add Styled Shoots to their portfolios.
One quick way to know if a photo is real or not, is noticing something a little over the top + if only the couple is in front of a ceremony arch. That typically is from a styled shoot. However, with smaller weddings on the rise, it is not always the case.
When you talk to potential photographers, simply ask if they participate in styled shoots. If they do, what photos are from a styled shoot. If they are pointing out a lot of photos in their portfolio from a styled shoot, that is a GREAT indicator that they are new or tend to be a photographer that poses. Which is fine. But if you are looking for authentic imagery, posing isn’t real life moments.
5. My Promise to YOU:
Over the last year and a half, I really have been revisiting everything about myself and my business. A few months ago, I almost closed the doors entirely. I felt defeated (just like you). I was losing my passion. I was anxious. I have won NUMEROUS awards but they really don’t mean shit. My couples do. So, I took a step back and really called myself out.
It was so fucking enlightening!
You will not see me participating in Styled shoots because … it isn’t beneficial to my couples, nor myself as a creative.
I do not want my couples to ever feel like their wedding is less than. I want my couples to be in the moment and not stress about the details. I want my couples to be able to truly + deeply FEEL what they felt on their day. Who cares if you are sad, stressed, pissed, whatever that it is you feel that is opposite of happy. That is REAL LIFE. If you have fallen on the dance floor - I got you! That is REAL LIFE! Whatever reality gives us, I am going to capture that if it happens. I am not going to force you into situations that aren’t you.
My couples and I have fun. We do things they already love. We value moments. We value our VIP people.
Here is where I sound cliche - We value …. Investing in our future.
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