5 Things I've learned from planning a Styled Shoot so far

I'm planning four styled Wedding Shoots this summer/early fall. Basically, I think I may have lost my mind!

I worked as a second photographer and freelancer for over 6 different business and 8 years now. That translates to a hella lot of weddings! However, I can't use any of those images to show off to potential clients. I think many of you will understand the struggle. Being an experienced photographer with the portfolio of a beginner. It's painful. I'm ready to spread my wings but cannot reach my dream clientele without a push.

Enter the Styled Wedding Shoot.

If you're not familiar with what a styled wedding shoot is, it's a way for vendors to get together and showcase their best! In theory, its a group effort to produce beautiful visual representations of local businesses' ideal clientele! Sounds wonderful, right?!

So without further ado: Here are five things I've learned so far from planning Styled Shoots! More to come!

#1. Styled Shoots are EXPENSIVE
Going into this plan I thought styled shoots were a collaboration. I imagined ten vendors getting together to support each other in this crazy business, creating something beautiful, laughing around a campfire, singing koombaya, and then social media-ing the BeJesus out of this stuff. What I didn't realize was styled shoots can be a collaboration; that is, if your best friend is a baker and your mom is a makeup artist, but usually their expensive. Most vendors want to be paid for their services and are not interested in donating anything but their time. That means, expect to pay about half of their normal rate for your items. For my Hamptons Styled Wedding Shoot- I put nearly $2,000 in (not including retainers!). That's a lot of cash for a small business.

#2. The Venue was my hardest (and most expensive) vendor
Most wedding Vendors (dress boutiques, florists, calligraphers, etc) are familiar with the idea of styled shoots. Most venues are not, at least in my experience. My original thought was to go on Airbnb or HomeAway and find an interesting location and simply rent it for it's normal rate- until I realized most of those locations specified "no events". Suddenly, the rule abiding side of my brain was worried, should I let them know that I'm planning an event? Of course! Instantly, hamptons houses who advertized $400 for 24 hours wanted $1,000 to $1,200 for FIVE HOURS. Yah, I felt pretty pissed too. But what can I do? I've promised all these vendors a beach house in the Hamptons, I better cough it up and pay.

For my vermont mountaintop elopement, I contacted the town and used public property. It was free!

#3. Instagram is your model "store"
I had a very hard time finding models. Correction: I am having a very hard time finding models. Modeling agencies have proved difficult to work with and take a decent chunk of money out of the actual models hands, driving the price up! However, I found that typing in #(LOCATION)models  (EXAMPLE: #hamptonsmodels or #vermontmodels) - I had much better luck. From there is just scrolling through the countless inappropriate/amateur images to find three or four people who look your vision! But seriously, it's a little like dumpster diving. I'm kidding, kind of. Everyone is beautiful in their own way, obviously.

#4. Etsy is your jewelry "store"
Next to location, Jewelry has been my second most surprising expense. I figured I would need to pay some sort of retainer, but that most jewelers would jump at the idea of free exposure. A styled shoot may result in a small amount of cleaning later, but for the most part, requires very little sacrifice on the part of the boutique. Their items will be returned and simply advertised for free- who wouldn't want that?! Especially since the styled shoot takes place on a Thursday morning, when I doubt any one else would be looking to rent the jewelry. First, after messaging about 15 different etsy stores and real local stores, I received only two responses. The first, told me it would cost $700 to rent the jewelry and a further $2000 retainer!? You can imagine my frustration. Why am I paying someone to advertise for them? Like I said in the beginning, maybe I have lost my mind! The second store was thankfully much more reasonable, only asking for $125 rental fee and a retainer half the cost of the gems.

#5. It's hard to find photographers to pay to go.
My initial plan for paying this $2,000 fee was to split to cost with about 5 or so other photographers. I'm not an overly competitive person, so I don't mind helping others (especially beginner photographers) learn and grow their business. I figured most photographers would want to be able to pay $300 or so and be allowed 3 hours of gorgeous models in a beautiful location with perfect dress/tux, flowers, calligraphy and stylized table. I put an "oppertunity" on HoneyBook and so far have received zero emails. I guess everyone else already has their ideal clientele?

I think I might sound a little jaded at the moment but I am actually very excited for the Vermont Mountaintop Elopement and the Hamptons Wedding Shoot that will be up for ya'll to see by next month!