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!