I find that one of the tough parts of having a blog and a business that work hand in hand is trying to justify your own way of doing things. One person may tweet this and one may blog that and all of a sudden you might stop in your tracks only to find yourself reevaluating your goals, your plan of action, your way of making things work for you. I know that as much as I believe whole heartedly in myself, as a newcomer to the industry I often find myself overwhelmed with the amount of learning I have yet to do. However there is one thing I am sure of.
One stat that has emerged from engage11 and really has me feeling slightly defeated is that “brides are not embracing styled shoots.” (I do realize this is a convention for luxury brides which is a clientele I am not trying to reach out to). As someone who was once up to her eyeballs in endless amounts of ‘inspirational’ wedding photos during my engagement, I can see both sides of this discussion. For brides with tight budgets and limited resources it’s defeating to see perfectly styled shoots knowing you’ll never be able to create something as structured. And I totally get that a real wedding where a ceremony takes place and a union is made, where there’s an actual guest list and a meal being served is extremely different logistically than say a styled shoot organized by a planner/florist/designer/photographer. I agree that no wedding vendor should ever advertise to potential clients that these shoots are in fact real weddings. Because well, they’re not.
However. And this is a big however. When you go into business as a wedding stylist and coordinator or start a business venture with goals of styling events (i.e. designing the aesthetics of a wedding and making your design concept come to life on the big day), and you have yet to build a portfolio, have zero proof of your talents, haven’t had the opportunity to showcase your abilities, or even worse, have actually booked clients but they haven’t given you full reign to style their event to reflect your talents – then where is an aspiring wedding stylist to turn to? What about wedding stylists and coordinators who are trying to set forth new trends, trying to freshen up their portfolio, trying to work with new talent in the industry? What are they suppose to do? When I officially started Hey Gorgeous Events just eight months ago I had only my wedding photos for my portfolio. Which is great. But I knew I’d need something more to add to my portfolio to speak to brides.
Inspiration shoots are a lot of work. But speaking from a stylist’s point of view, they are in my opinion one of the best ways to showcase the talents of various vendors and hands down, until you can lock in brides who trust your vision entirely, one of the only ways to have complete control over the creativity that goes into creating wedding-type portfolio images. And while there’s no guests eating and drinking and celebrating at a styled shoot, there are still time constraints, unpredictable weather conditions, vendors who cancel last minute, scheduling conflicts, flowers, invitations, cake, decor, a venue, a photographer, a model, a gown, accessories, favors, a videographer involved (and the list goes on and on) that are just as real as they would be at a ‘real wedding.’ And that is why I 100% believe in styled shoots. And will continue to do them.
The stylist in me doesn’t spend months preparing for inspiration shoots and collaborating with 12 plus vendors with the mindset that my efforts are strictly for potential clients. Instead I create these opportunities for myself, and for the others who instill their faith in me to organize such endeavors, because I enjoy doing so. That and it’s an amazing networking opportunity for all involved AND most importantly, these shoots allow us the freedom to showcase our work, talents and abilities. Which in turn ends up being both a benefit for us and a benefit for potential clients or brides who will forever as long as the industry exists, be on the look out for new inspiration. A win win for all.
I’d love to hear from both brides to be and stylists below! Please play nice.
Above photo by Beth Kaye, from my first inspiration shoot. That helped launch my business.