Having real weddings in your portfolio is a wonderful way to demonstrate you have what it takes to produce beautiful galleries in real-life situations. But real weddings don’t always allow you to fully showcase your vision. This is where styled shoots come in. Styled shoots let your creativity shine and craft a body of work that intentionally attracts the type of clients that you seek to work with in the future. Moreover, you have the freedom to photograph and edit the styled shoot precisely as your heart desires.
One of the main reasons photographers do styled shoots is to showcase the type of weddings and elopements they aspire to book in the future. Nevertheless, photographers have time and again expressed their disappointment to me with the outcome of a styled shoot planned by a different wedding vendor. My advice to you is to take matters into your own hands. Take all aspects of the styled shoot into consideration including the location, light, couple, wardrobe, details, etc. to mirror your aesthetic vision.
Photobug Tip: use mood boards to help you visualize your concept and color palette
For example, the images in this post are from a styled shoot that my husband, Tim, and I organized in Tuscany, Italy. We wanted to book more elopements in Tuscany, so we made sure to include not only beautiful shots with stunning views, but also images of the couple getting ready, having their first look, exchanging vows, and strolling the cobbled streets of a small town–the full wedding experience. As photographers, we’re drawn to down-to-earth and fun-loving couples. Therefore, it was important for us to work with a model couple that exudes that sort of energy and vibe. We made sure that every aspect of the styled shoot was on-brand for us–that way, we could attract couples that resonate with our work.
Beyond attracting your ideal client, getting your styled shoot featured on a wedding blog enhances social proof and instills credibility. Securing a backlink from a blog with a high domain authority also adds significant SEO value to your website. With all these benefits at play, photographers must plan and submit their styled shoot in a way that increases the likelihood of a wedding blog publishing it.
Tips to Get Your Styled Shoot Published
1. Choose the Best Fitting Wedding Blog
Research and narrow down a wedding blog that targets your desired audience. Some blogs cater to an international audience while others focus on local markets. Pick one that better fits your business. Also, pay attention to the specialization of the blog in terms of style and niche.
2. Study the Submission Guidelines
Most blogs have their submission guidelines readily available to make the process easier for everyone involved. Making yourself familiar with their requirements–even before organizing the styled shoot–will help set you up for success. Keep in mind that even if your styled shoot is stunning, mistakes in the submission process could cost you the opportunity to be featured.
Particularly pay attention to the exclusivity policy as well as when you should send in your submission. This will help you avoid problems when it comes to the changing seasons. For instance, when is the best time to submit a styled shoot from a snowy, winter elopement in the Alps?
3. Offer a New Perspective
It is helpful to take the perspective of the wedding blog when trying to determine if your styled shoot is offering something new to their audience. Wedding blogs aim to provide their visitors with fresh ideas and inspiration. If you simply repeat or copy a concept, you’re less likely to get published. Use this opportunity to be creative and avoid sourcing inspiration from within the wedding industry.
4. Curate the Gallery Properly
Selecting images that tell the story concisely and beautifully is an art form–be intentional with the images that you include in the gallery. Make it easier for the editors of the blog to quickly grasp the type of shoot that you are submitting and spare them any unnecessary work of having to sift through too many images. In this regard, also pay attention to additional details including the size, format, orientation, and color space of the images.
5. Include a Story
As much as images can tell a story, try to support your gallery with heartfelt words that describe the styled shoot in a way that is engaging to the reader. Even if you feel like writing is not your strong suit, take the pressure off by writing more casually. It doesn’t need to sound stiff and professional. Again, think about what kind of information would be valuable and interesting to the couple at the other end of the screen.
Bonus Tip: Add a video
In this era of social media and with the growth of short-form videos, submitting a video alongside your styled shoot can be helpful. Try to create a quick trailer of your styled shoot–or even behind-the-scenes footage–that can be used as a Reel on Instagram to promote your styled shoot and get more eyes on your work.
Once you have submitted your styled shoot, sit back and relax because that was a lot of work! Wedding blogs receive lots of submissions every week, so don’t feel disheartened if you don’t hear back right away. Most blogs allow you to publish your work on your own blog, so make sure that you are promoting it on your website and social media channels too.
Models: Twin Flames Model Couple
Aida Glowik is a wedding photographer specializing in intimate weddings and elopements across Europe. She is also a podcaster providing inspiration, tools, and resources for photographers to build a thriving brand and business.
This post was based on her conversation with Lexi Heimdal, Director of Marketing &
Communication at Junebug Weddings & Photobug Community, featured in episode 52 of My Wedding Season – The Podcast.