What Makes a Great Styled Shoot

Today we are going to focus on what makes a great styled shoot and how you can make your submission stand out. This is just what we like in the UWM office, hopefully, this will make those submissions easier for you if you know what we look for!

If you are going to the time and trouble of organising a shoot, or mini-wedding as we like to call them, then you must be prepared for hard work both before; during and after the day. This shoot will bring great PR to your business so do due diligence is a must. Here are my Editor’s top tips on getting your photo shoots featured:

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1. Your audience awaits

Firstly decide on your audience – which couples are you trying to attract and which magazines/blogs are they reading. Different couples have different styles, this is not a one size fits all business. Do you want this shoot to be in a printed magazine or would you prefer either a digital or blog? With 88% couples going online for wedding inspiration, a blog could be the perfect choice for you. Remember print magazines only have limited space for styled shoots, whereas digital can feature as many as they want and both can use their blogs for instantaneous results. Plus you can link to all the suppliers you have used on the shoot. This enables readers to click through to see their websites for themselves.

slushieprints via Etsy

2. Star Wars or Star Trek?

Once you know where you want this to be featured and have had an initial discussion with your intended medium (they might even help you with co-ordination, I know that we do!) it is time to hit Pinterest with your designated team and start sharing mood boards. We recommend you work with suppliers that you know; who are local to you. Shoots are not just about showcasing, they are also about relationship building. The teams we work with, we work with again and again because their work is fabulous and they make shooting a very enjoyable process.

You need to consider your theme/content – how much detail do you want or is this focused on a couple and couture, or both? Readers want to see the details, the shoes, the cake, the décor, etc. They are looking for inspiration!

Team UWM shooting at IceBar London
Team UWM shooting at IceBar London

3. Your team

Work closely with your team once your colours/theme is agreed, so everyone has a clear and precise understanding of what is required of them on the day. As shoot co-ordinator, allow for emergencies (have a backup plan).

Use your shoot as an opportunity to share your creativity with wedding world. You are not under any client remit, so you can use whatever inspiration you wish to showcase your visions. Think decades and styles, which designer should you engage with and loan gowns from to best capture the look you want. Plan your shoot like you would your wedding, just on a smaller scale.

So who to have on your team? I would certainly recommend the following:

  • Photographer (pretty useless without one!)
  • Models – if showcasing gowns/suits
  • Hair/MUA – one/two depending on model numbers
  • Venue décor/stylist
  • Runner – definitely have a 2nd pair of hands to help – essential! They can help dress the models, ensure the dress is laid correctly for photos, fetch food, help with the care and management of borrowed accessories and gowns etc.
  • Florist
  • Cake company

Depending on where you are shooting, of course, you may wish to add transport or casinos or ice sculptures (just examples), this is your shoot so you get to assemble a team. These images will be used to promote you/your business so you must ensure the story you are telling through this shoot reflects you. Obviously no wild west shoots if you are allergic to horses! Stick to what you know, and what you want to be known for!

Laptop Image

4. Pre and Post

Once you have submitted your shoot and know when it is being published (print or digital) then encourage your shoot team to hit social media. DO NOT tweet entire shoots out, but all agree on a couple of images and start teasing them out to your audience. You will soon find that if you have a great team all putting the odd sneak peak out via their social media accounts and saying when the full shoot will be available and where – you can drum up some great PR. This will then get the hype going before anyone sees the full result! Tag each other in the posts, be loud and proud about who the team is and what you have created. As Editors we are featuring your work for free, we are giving you a platform to our readers so it is always nice to see suppliers being enthusiastic and proud about being featured!


5. The NO-NO list

Here are some common mistakes we see in submitted shoots and don’t worry, it happens to the best of us, examples are included which are all mine as I do not mind a little public humiliation.

  • Images in mirrors – yep you have that great shot and wow! Man in the mirror!
  • Fake tan – please don’t let your models do this – it is never even, looks bad and can be a huge pain if they have done it quickly the night before and not showered!
  • Blurred images – we can say no more, no it is not arty!
  • Lighting – no incorrectly exposed images please; we only showcase excellent photography.
  • Editing – Keep it simple! Readers want to be inspired by the content of a styled shoot not how unrealistic the sky looks! Yes, filters are all the rage on social media but not in the world of pro photography, if a dress designer loans you an ivory dress they won’t want it looking pink!
  • Image size – make sure your photographer is aware of the submission guidelines for your chosen blog/publication.
  • Over-complicating – once again keep it simple! If it is a detail shot, check your content – is it enough or too much? If a dress shot, check the background – patio heaters are never great, neither are harsh shadows, bins, signs or lamps (just dangling into shot).
  • Safety – please no images of models in gowns in pools, hanging off buildings or standing on the edge of rocks. If a bride cannot relate, it will not inspire.

I hope this has given you an insight into what we look for a UWM and happy shooting x