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Organizing a Styled Session: How-To

So you’ve got some friends in the industry and you’re wondering how to organize a styled session.  But let’s not jump into this too hastily.  First, we need to make sure we’re all on the same page as to what a styled session is.  A styled session is when a variety of wedding vendors get together and create a set, or vignette, with a cohesive theme.  The vignette is them photographed either with or without models and the images are used for publication and/or portfolio.

Now that we know what a styled session is, we need to discuss why one may want to partake in a styled session.  Although there can be a miriad of reasons, some of the most popular reasons for a vendor wanting to participate in a styled session includes:

  • Wanting to shoot at a certain location (and not having the chance to do it live as a real-wedding)
  • Wanting to incorporate certain elements and decor that you haven’t worked with before
  • Wanting to work alongside other vendors/networking
  • Hoping to produce work that can be published in a particular publication
  • Producing images to add to your portfolio

Once you know why you want to participate in a styled session, it can be a variety of reasons, you need to come up with a vision before choosing any other team members.  Your vision will depend strongly on why you want to do a styled session.  Whether you’re wanting to shoot in a particular location or aim for a publication on a certain blog, you have to make sure that you expectations and visions are compatible.  (For example, you cannot create a modern styled session and hope to feature it on a vintage blog.)  Put all of this on paper – you’ll need to get it ready for the next step.

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One of my favourite images from a recent styled session. Click on the image to see the whole post.

Time to put on your point-person hat!  A point-person, or team lead, is someone who helps get the ball initially rolling and who helps take care of the small tasks such as organizing meetings for the group and generally aiding in quick and efficient communication amongst all group members.  As the visionary/point-person you now have to do some research and email colleagues with your proposition.  Don’t forget to include:

  • The date (or timeframe) you’re hoping this session will take place
  • Your initial vision/theme
  • What you want from each vendor
  • The publications you are hoping to submit to (and whether or not they are exclusive or non-exclusive)
  • How the photos will be used/distributed after

Once you have a team of vendors, it’s time to sit down and chat.  Your initial theme may get elaborated upon and you might see the idea grow exponentially.  Don’t be afraid of growth but also, don’t be afraid to pull in on the reigns and speak up if you feel the vision is straying too far from what you originally were hoping for.  Clear, concise communication is key to a successful styled session.

Schedule meetings in order to keep all members updated.  If meeting in-person is too hard, try creating a Facebook group where all vendors can post and discuss.

After the session is complete, keep all the vendors up-to-date on the editing status of the images and make sure that everyone can easily get copies of the photos to use in their portfolios provided that you’re choosing to publish in non-exclusive publications.

A note about publications: Some publication as “exclusive” which means they reserve the right to be the ONLY ONES to display that content for a certain period of time (usually six to twelve months).  This includes display on the vendors own website.  Non-exclusive publications are happy to feature work that has also been featured elsewhere.  Although the majority of major wedding vendors are familiar with the workings of most major publications, it’s always a good idea to remind them as to the exlusivity claus of the publication you’re hoping to be featured in.

Finally, create a document listing all of the vendors contact info and business names.  Ensure that each and ever vendor has this list so that when they create their own blog posts, they can easily credit their fellow colleagues.

Happy shooting!





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