Reflections : Thoughts on a Styled Wedding Shoot


In my last Shooting Star video post, I alluded to styled shoots and how they work…from my perspective. I understand everyone has different approaches to styled shoots, but I thought a few people might benefit from a behind-the-scenes look into this particular shoot from my angle.

Like I mentioned in the video, I lovvvvve photographing stylized wedding shoots. Love it. It allows my brain to think differently and challenge myself. I’m only ever approached for two types of styled shoots: 1. As a documenter (I show up and photograph the design); or 2. As a collaborator (I have a say in the overall design aesthetic). The 1950s Mod Wedding shoot I posted yesterday was the latter. I had lunch with Jesi Haack and we decided to work together. This decision wasn’t arbitrary…we spoke about the trajectory of the shoot, our goals, and ensured it was mutually beneficial for everyone involved.

Having said that, here’s a few random things about the shoot you may or may not find helpful…why do I always feel like I talk too much?! Because I do. Wow, I just answered my own question…I’m cool.
*Finding a location is difficult.
If you’re photographing in a field, this won’t be much of an issue, but since our shoot had a distinct vibe to it, we needed to choose a very specific location. A ballroom wasn’t an option (it didn’t reflect the story), a hotel wouldn’t work (too cliche), and a golf course wouldn’t be a match. This limited our traditional shoot locations…a lot. It was actually one day before the shoot we nailed down confirmation to shoot at Memphis Cafe…but it had to be in between the lunch and dinner rush as to not disturb patrons.
*There’s a TON of work involved.
This pertains more to the designer and florist, but as a collaborator, there’s a lot of correspondence and throwing around of ideas. Oh, and there’s a bit of stress…not gonna lie. Because everyone is contributing their time and effort (and funds), I felt an inordinate amount of pressure to deliver. At the end of the day, if the pictures suck…it’s my fault. I couldn’t sleep for two nights before the shoot.
*Things will go awry…deal with it.
The biggest obstacle on the day of the shoot was the location and time constraints. The Cafe itself was awesome…it’s just that at 3pm, the light was unbelievably harsh as it glared through the windows. And due to the layout of the shoot, the table and whiskey bar had to be set up window-side. As I walked into the cafe for the shoot, Jesi and Carissa worried about the light. It limited the angles I could photograph the table details, but it didn’t limit me shooting in general, so I did the best I could. The light also played an issue when shooting the models indoors, but instead of fighting the light, JD and I simply shot from one of two angles…and made it work. I guess that’s the moral here: Take what you have and shake it.
*What’s the theme/story?
Jesi and I debated the theme of the shoot, but we did know a few things: no pastels, birdcages or a sofa in a field. Maybe Peaches+Pearls…maybe using the Rhianna’s “Rude Boy” music video as inspiration (Rastafari meets Andy Warnhol)…but the “story” was missing. Finding the theme is easier than finding the story. As a photographer, I create a story in my mind for the shoot so my photos can narrate it. It creates a tighter edit and vendors know, precisely, how the shoot will unfold and pictures captured.
This ties in with the previous point. If you’re planning to collaborate on an inspiration shoot, please don’t do what you’ve seen hundreds of times on wedding blogs. This is an opportunity to redefine a potential trend in our industry. Do I think brides will wear three-inch fake eyelashes? Of course not…but it may encourage them to think differently about their makeup. Do I think brides will wear a long-sleeve sequince wedding dress? I’d hope so, but it’s dubious…but it may encourage them to think differently about wedding fashion. Do I think Pucci-pattern table linen will be all the rage next season? No…but it may encourage brides to take more risks and have a wedding truly reflective of their personal style.
That’s what I hope these types of styled wedding shoots accomplish…reminding brides to take the rules and BREAK THEM.

Happy Wednesday!

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  1. sherri lynn

    May 4th, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I like what you said about reminding brides to break the rules. As a recent bride myself, I loved breaking the rules! It was exhilarating and made my day feel one-of-a-kind!

  2. LaVon

    May 4th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    You know, that’s an excellent point. Not only do these shoots allow the collaborators to expand their ports and have a little fun, it’s inspirational for the viewers/potential clients and encourages them to think outside the box on their big day! I’m gonna call some friends and toss around some ideas today! Thanks for the motivation J!

  3. Ciji Morota

    May 4th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Great advice!!!!
    I’m in the middle of organizing a styled shoot as well.
    And so far, so good. But I will definitely keep this blog in mind.

  4. brideandjoy

    May 4th, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Jasmine, I thought I was the only person in the whole wide wedding world thinking Mid Century Modern… I’m glad I’m not alone. Your work is fantastic and has given me lots of ideas for my own wedding so thank you!

  5. Trysha

    May 4th, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I like that by going off the edge of the envelope, it encourages others to push the edge of the envelope.

  6. Adriana Morett

    May 4th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Hi J*, Just wanted to leave some blog love, well, because I love your blog!! 😉 Thanks again for sharing so much and inspiring me.

  7. Sabrina Nicole

    May 4th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m trying to work on a collaboration shoot right now and this was very helpful.

  8. The New Diplomat's Wife

    May 4th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Very much agreed, Jasmine – especially on the "do it differently". Fashion and photo shoots can be inspiration for lots of things, which is why I enjoy these photos even though I’m way past my own actual wedding. But there might be a pucci print at my next dinner party. Somtimes it takes something dramatic to shift one’s perspective.

  9. Jenny

    May 4th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Jasmine – amazing! Ok, so question – was this an actual wedding? You said "style shoot" … what is that? LOVE your photos 🙂 so inspiring

  10. Abby Grace Photography

    May 4th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    This is really helpful- I’m currently collaborating with an awesome wedding blog in the area for a style shoot. Thanks for posting this!

  11. Erin K.

    May 4th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    You make it look so easy…I appreciate you explaining how much work goes into the process of having a styled shoot!

  12. The Amys

    May 4th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    With such a competitive field, one thing is for sure, be original to beat the competition! Love this post!

  13. Amanda Hill

    May 4th, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Very helpful post. I get tired of seeing the same style.
    And Memphis represent!

  14. Lizzie

    May 4th, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I wish I had seen your blog when I was planning my wedding – I let it all get to me so it ended up cookie cutter style instead of something that reflected me! Now as a photographer I hope that I can show my style and creativity with a little influence a-la Jasmine!

  15. Autumn Teesdale

    May 4th, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    I have been reading about styled shoots alot lately, maybe its a sign!! My gears are turning for sure!

  16. Amanda Hill

    May 4th, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Very helpful post. I get tired of seeing the same style.
    And Memphis represent!

  17. jenn {bow tie & bustle}

    May 4th, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    styled shoots are the best! thanks so much for hitting on so many great points about what it takes to collaborate on a styled shoot. loved this post!

  18. Tammynize

    May 4th, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    What bride wouldn’t want to wear 3 inch fake lashes?

  19. Lydia

    May 4th, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    You totally pulled it off! Thanks for sharing your tips. I have a shoot next week, and I’m crossing my fingers that it’ll turn out!

  20. Pua

    May 4th, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    LOVE this! And loved the photos from this styled shoot – so different, and SO beautiful!

  21. Emma Godfrey

    May 4th, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you for this post, it’s really got me thinking. It is so easy to fall into the trap of doing what everyone else is doing because it feels like the thing to do, but it is so much harder to take the first step to something new. How long before Mod weddings become the next big thing?! 😉

  22. sarah

    May 4th, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Great tips…. I love setting up unique shoots for my clients! Love to see diversity & their personality shine through! You are incredible at what you do… keep being fabulous! xox

  23. Anahy

    May 4th, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    This is way cool. It’s so true, we get caught up in doing what’s current that we forget that we can start new things. Thanks for the reminder. Stay awesome.

  24. Erin Oveis Brant

    May 4th, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    First of all, you totally killed this shoot! Totally. But OMG thank you for this post! I’ve been wanting to do a styled shoot and really why shouldn’t I do something that hasn’t been done before? Why the heck not? Outside of my comfort zone lives the greatest risks and the greatest rewards. As usual, thank you for keeping me in check. And it’s so great to see you pushing farther out into new territory. Keep blazing the trail, sister! xo

  25. Gina Meola

    May 5th, 2011 at 2:30 am

    Yay! Good points. We have a styled shoot in just a couple weeks, and I’m hearin’ what you’re screamin 🙂 XOXO

  26. Wedding Photographer Columbus GA

    May 5th, 2011 at 4:24 am

    Thanks for the awesome insight in setting up a wedding a shoot. Really was helpful!

  27. melanie bittick

    May 5th, 2011 at 6:44 am

    love the insight of this post.

  28. melanie bittick

    May 5th, 2011 at 6:45 am

    love, love, love the insight and message of this post. thanks for sharing! xo

  29. Cindy Habel

    May 5th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Thanks Jasmine…..inspiring and helpful. Love the originality of this styled shoot!

  30. Fotograf Ślubny

    May 5th, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Very nice, really

  31. rich

    May 5th, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    thanks for all the tips! your shots came out amazing!

  32. Alejandra - Imaginale

    May 5th, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    I believe your risky thinking is exactly what has made you the inspirational leader in the photography business you are today 🙂

  33. Kelsey {las vegas wedding photographer}

    May 6th, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Thanks for all the great tips!


    May 6th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    This image captures the essence of the shoot and is purely you. Beautiful!

  35. cassandra-m

    May 6th, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Posts like this Jaz makes me think differently. 😀 THANK YOU!

  36. Alicia -- Beba Photography

    May 9th, 2011 at 7:07 am

    I love that you mentioned that people have different approaches to styled shoots because it really reflects how each photographer "sees" a scene an interprets it. I love that as photographers, we can all be artists and put our own personal spin on things.

    It’s like sitting Michaelangelo, Monet, Van Goh, Walt Disney and Picasso down at the same table, placing a bowl of fruit in front of them and asking them to all paint it.

    Can you see it? Michaelangelo would paint something life-like and realistic. Monet would use several short strokes. Van Goh would capture the "mood" that the fruit creates, Picasso would rearrange it and Walt Disney would make it into a cartoon.

    All very different approaches, but all equally as beautiful and special because each one brings something different to the table. I love being able to create something from my imagination and heart and put it out for others to see. I’ve not done something as elaborate as you have done and definitely have ideas to try that are bigger than my pocketbook, but the important point is sharing your heart with others through what you’ve created. I LOVE that photography provides the outlet to do that. : )

  37. Ashley Goodwin

    May 9th, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    This. Is. Amazing. I am still dying over her false eyelashes! I am SO thankful that YOU brought to my attention to start doing styled shoots (especially while in Hawaii) and connect the dots with what I have to offer as an interior designer and Southern Gal, it’s made me look at things differently and notice what makes ME "tick"! Can’t wait to incorporate some southern charm into some styled shoots in Hawaii, but in a totally different way! Thanks for always encouraging and inspiring! love ya!

  38. Molly

    May 17th, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    You clearly made that lighting work because the light in this picture is gorgeous!

  39. Sandy Tam

    May 18th, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Seeing this post, I have made it a project to collaborate with some friends to do a stylized shoot. I think it’s a great way to push ourselves outside our comfort zone. Sometimes, shooting on the wedding day can be so overwhelming. Practicing shooting "outside the box" is huge. Thanks again for sharing your inspiration. I love checking in and seeing what you’ve done.