Paper Cuts: Participating in Styled Shoots

I remember being newly engaged and flipping through the pages of Brides, Martha Stewart Weddings, and The Knot. Page after page filled with stunning photos of weddings that seemed like the stuff dreams were made of. I had no idea back then that so many of the photos were from styled shoots. That is, that they weren't real weddings, but rather styled photo shoots of a wedding dreamt up by professional wedding vendors. Mind. Blown.

Since first discovering styled shoots, I quickly realized that they served a huge business purpose. They provide an opportunity to collaborate with other vendors, to get beautiful images of your work, and the possibility of being featured in a major publication (either online, or in print). Styled shoots are a lot of work, but friends, they're the stuff dreams are made of. I've really adored taking part in a number of styled shoots, and am happy to share a little inside scoop for those of you who may want to take part in one at some point.


There are endless ways to get involved, but I think it comes down to two main ways.

ONE: You get invited to a shoot. I get emails from vendors who are putting together a shoot and want to include my paper. Sometimes it's a perfect fit and sometimes it's not. If it is a perfect fit, AWESOME! Let's DO this! If it is not a perfect fit, I let the vendor know why - maybe I don't have enough time to create what they need, maybe the overall aesthetic isn't really in line with Sincerely, Jackie - whatever the reason, I always ask they keep me in mind for the next shoot in case it's a better fit.

SECONDLY, hit the pavement and find a shoot (or create one yourself). While you may get invited to shoots on occasion, don't expect wonderful opportunities to knock on your door, totally out of the clear blue sky above. Especially if you're just starting out. You need to get out there and create the opportunities for yourself. If you're got industry friends, ask if they're going to be involved in any shoots that maybe you could be a part of too - or ask them to keep you in mind for future shoots. My first (and second, and third) styled shoot was one where I got the ball rolling myself. I was launching a new line of invitations and wanted beautiful photos. I put my feelers out to see if anybody was interested in collaborating. NETWORKING is key. A few industry friends reached out and said they wanted to be a part of it and then we worked together to make it happen.

TIP: Expect to spend some money if you're involved in a shoot. Usually each vendor is asked to donate their product/time/services. If you're creating something new for the shoot, be prepared for the costs involved - supplies, print costs, and your own time.

Overall I think styled shoots are all about networking, putting your work out there, and finding other creative people who sing the same song you do. Not every shoot will make the cover of Brides, but each shoot provides the opportunity to grow, learn, improve, network, gain exposure and push yourself creatively.

Wednesdays here on the blog are all about sharing Paper Cuts, which is a behind-the-scenes, down to Earth business advice series. I hope you've enjoyed today's Paper Cuts topic, and look forward to having you back next time! To read past Paper Cut posts, click here.