I want to share with you what I learned from a styled shoot I had the opportunity to attend last fall. What is a styled shoot, you ask? I didn’t really know either until about year ago. A styled shoot is an opportunity for photographers to attend a coordinated shoot for fun, for practice, to try new creative ideas? It’s a shoot a photographer instead of being paid, pays to attend. Vendors supply materials for the shoot, in return for publicity of their company by the photographers.
I had joined a Facebook group about styled shoots all across the country because the idea intrigued me. After seeing tons of shoots planned for distant states, I finally saw one planned for Indiana! Not only was the shoot in Indiana , it was just 1.5 hours from my home, I had to learn more! The mood board for the shoot was beautiful, the price modest, and drive easy. I bought my ticket and couldn’t wait!
The day before the shoot I packed up all my gear, charged my batteries, cleared all my memory cards and made sure I had directions. I hate just blindly following the GPS! (Our GPS once led me the wrong way down a one way street–we nicknamed it Little Lost Puppy!) I like to have a glimpse of the overall picture and know where I’m going, before following the “route.”
I see my family off for their days and then head out, nervous as can be. The drive went quicker than I expected, so I have plenty of time to stop by the nearby Starbucks for my favorite drink while I try to calm the heard of butterflies dancing in my stomach.
I arrive, meet some of the other photographers I share a time slot with and then it’s our turn! I get to do details first. Yay! I love details! This also means I can focus on styling picture of pretty things, while I settle in.
Next we get to go photograph the real-life husband wife couples who are our models for the day. Simple right? I’m not actually photographing their treasured memories, and they are models. No pressure should be easy as can be, right? I can’t do it! I don’t know them, they don’t know me. I simply couldn’t do it. I HAD to learn their story!
This beautiful couple had been married for less than 6 months. The live in a neighboring state and knew one of the coordinators of the shoot. She has and interest in drama, so modeling really appeal to her. They took the day off and made the drive for the shoot. Their actual wedding was a traditional Indian wedding, and they also thought this would be a fun opportunity to have an American wedding type of experience. They were absolutely so sweet together! Such a stunning pair. I would have loved the opportunity to get to know them even more.
I got to spend only a few minutes with the next couple but still learned a bit of their story. They had been married less than a week! Yep, you read that right, instead of being on their honeymoon they were, modeling for us! They were so gracious and even re-enacted a first look! They didn’t stick around just for the styled shoot, but postponed their honeymoon to be in the wedding of some friends. What a blessing they must be to their friends.
Next thing I knew our time was up and we had to clear out for the next group to come in. Boy did it go fast! There was no need to be nervous after all. It was also pretty fun.
I got home and began editing a few of the photos and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The experience was fun. The set up, cake, stationary, venue and couples were all lovely! Why then, why did the photos mean nothing to me? They didn’t tell anyone’s story, and that, that broke my heart just a little bit.
I went into the shoot seeing it as a new experience, something to try just for fun. I don’t know what I expected to learn, maybe perfect my detail shots a bit more. Seeing the ideas of other photographers is always inspiring. I certainly didn’t expect to have a bit of an epiphany, a zeroing in on why I do what I do. I always knew I loved connecting with my clients, honestly after a shoot I always think of them more as friends, than clients. I knew that I loved preserving people’s memories. What I didn’t completely realize until the styled shoot was— that it’s the telling of your story that gives the photos meaning for me. Capturing your joy, your love, your story, serving you by capturing your memories that, that is what I LOVE most about this adventure of photography I get to call my job!
Laurel Hall in Indianapolis was our beautiful castle-like venue. Here are a few of the beautiful images from the day.
Venue | Laurel Hall
Florist | Blooms by Blush
Cake | Taylor Made Cakery
Rentals | A Classic Party Rental
Stationary | Jian Loh
Bridal gowns | Blue House Bridal
Hair | Allison Linnear
To learn more about the Simply Seeking Photography wedding experience follow the link below.