How to Organize your First Styled Shoot: For Photographersgetting wedding leads

Have you been craving to be a part of a styled shoot? Have you been waiting to find the perfect workshop that does all the work for you, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg?

That’s silly. I looked around for the same for about two weeks, hoping the perfect opportunity would present itself and fall into my lap. But then I thought, I can organize one my self. I didn’t want another week to go by and just keep letting my visions be visions. I wanted to bring them to life. I thought to myself, “Why not? Why would I not be able to pull this off?” I don’t need anyone’s approval.  Yes, there are a lot of moving pieces, but here is what it boils down to. All you need is: a supportive and encouraging community of entrepreneurs with a passion for what they do and a desire to showcase their work.

In case you missed my blog post about our styled shoot, you can view it here

Along with the wonderful models, we had an amazing team of local vendors come together and seamlessly bring our vision to life. Our vision for this shoot was a jewel toned wedding with lots of rich colors to emphasize the winter season. We definitely had a boho themed wedding in mind, but we wanted to glam it up just a bit. Think: Jewel Tone Winter Wedding

First things first


What sparked your desire to be a part of a styled shoot or plan your own? Was there a certain theme that really inspired you that you’d love to recreate? That is all it starts with, an idea. And then comes the Pinterest board!


You want to start thinking about a timeline. How long will it take you to start planning and execute (it took us about a month, just to give you an idea). You also want to think about the time of year. Lets say you want your styled shoot published (although, I don’t recommend going this route for your first styled shoot), you obviously want to make sure you keep the time of year in mind. Don’t plan a Winter styled shoot, for February and then submit your work to a blog. Most shoots don’t get published for at least 3 months, and you want the time of year to be relevant and pay a big role in the way you style your shoot.

Multiple Photographers

If you are like me and happy to share, I would recommend letting other photographers in on your shoot for free. There are a few reasons why I didn’t mind others joining me 1. It is more fun! 2. We all add a different flair and have different editing styles, so I didn’t feel like I was competing at all. 3. Why not split the decisions and responsibility up? The only reason why you wouldn’t want more than one photographer would be if you were thinking about submitting the shoot to a blog or magazine. It starts getting messy when the publication wants to name one photographer.

Choosing the right Vendors


This was the funnest part for me! I already had a couple in mind to model for us who happened to be celebrating their five year anniversary around this time. However, I didn’t realize how many people would be so excited about something I planned, and that I wouldn’t have to do any persuading at all. I actually had to start choosing which Stationery artist I would want to work with most, and where I wanted to borrow a dress from. I ended up getting some offers at the last moment, just days before the shoot. All I did was join two Facebook groups, “The Rising Tide Society” and “Tuesdays Together | Raleigh” and explain my idea and what kind of vendors I was looking for.  I swear that within two days, I had everyone but a hairstylist, and of course I ended up finding one! I literally had everything I needed from the models, and the venue, down to a baker for a naked cake.

Vendors/Industries to consider:

  • Models
  • Photographer(s)
  • Venue
  • Dress
  • Hair and Make-up
  • Florist
  • Table Settings/ Rentals
  • Baker
  • Accessories (Rings, etc.)
  • Wedding Coordinator
  • Paper Goods/ Stationery

Reaching out


Be polite and  professional. I think that this is pretty much common sense, but I wanted to  include a email I sent out to a baker. I really liked her work, so I figured I would try reaching out. I think this is one of the hardest things to do, just having the courage and confidence to reach out to someone and knowing how. However, think about it this way – there is no exact right thing on what to say, and also try to remember that the worst thing that could happen is that they could say no, or they could already be booked for the date you have in mind. Some vendors might even say no because they don’t like your work, or don’t think you have a large enough following. If people aren’t reaching out to you be start reaching out to vendors, and do’t get discouraged. All of us started somewhere. The most important thing to keep in mind when reaching out to vendors is letting them know what they will get out of it. Let them know that would gladly share your images from the shoot with them in exchange for credit of your work when they share on social media.

“Hi X,
My name is Jenn, I’m a photographer here in Raleigh, NC who is re branding her business/website ( .I have been putting together and panning a styled shoot for January 15th, and wanted to reach out in case you were interested in being a part of it!

So far, we have 9 creatives involved, along with the venue Carlee Farms that is hosting us. Would love to know if you would be interested in offering your services and joining us! We would be so lucky to have you! 

We aren’t looking for anything too fancy. Here is a Pinterest board we have, if you’d like to look at it!



Stay organized. In order to stay on top of things I started an email thread and FB group for our shoot. My first email out to everyone had everyone’s email address, website, and or social media. If more than one photographer is involved along with all the vendors, it is important to touch base and make sure everyone is on the same page leading up to the day of the shoot. If you have a Pinterest Board that you have invited everyone to edit, make sure everyone is commenting on the pins they are adding/contributing.

Advice for day of


The day will go by with a blink of an eye. You will always need more time than you think.  Styling will take up most of this time, so make sure the rentals/table settings get there first and are getting set up before anyone else even arrives. This is where FB groups come in handy. If someone is there before anyone else, they will most likely have to make some decisions on their own or ask for feedback on a angle/corner they might have to choose between (unless everyone has gotten a chance to visit the venue beforehand. Highly recommend doing so if you have the option).

After the day off


After the shoot I started working on pictures like a crazy person. I am not going to lie ,I wanted to be able to share my pictures first. However, I also wanted to ensure that we all got a chance to send our work to all vendors involved. In the end I believe two of the five photographers involved blogged their session, but most all of us got our work shared by all the vendors.


In the end I know your biggest concern is how much the shoot cost me. I will eagerly tell you that all I spent on this shoot was time and energy as we all did. I didn’t have to pay for anyone to be a part of the shoot, and I also didn’t ask for any payment in return. I think what made the biggest difference for us was the venue. We were lucky enough to find an up and coming and GORGEOUS venue to host us. However, I know that this was luck. Some other venues in the area will charge at least $100 an hour even for a styled shoot.

Reaping the Benefits

I absolutely would say that organizing this styled shoot was 100% worth it. Yes, I have shot three weddings in the past, but I have two weddings booked because of this shoot, and two inquiries for 2018 that are basically booked. This shoot has also landed me two second shooting opportunities that I am extremely thankful for. Although, I do want to shoot weddings on my own, I can’t recommend second shooting enough. Your anxiety won’t be as bad with some practice under your belt, you’ll get to see another photographer’s work flow first hand, and you might even get to learn their tricks of the trade.

  • Claudia said:

    What a super-helpful article! I am in the midst of planning my first styled shoot helmed by me, and I’m so nervous! However, reading your article helped me realize it’s really not that complicated to plan a styled shoot once you have a clear vision in mind. I can’t wait to fill my portfolio with images from the amazing shoots I have in my head! Thanks again for writing this!