Updated: Apr 11, 2022
** As seen on Contemporary Weddings Magazine **
A styled shoot is simply a collaborative effort of multiple vendors who put their services together to create a faux wedding to be photographed. These are great for building up a portfolio, getting work published, collaborating with others in the event industry, and targeting potential clients. Typically, every vendor covers their own costs of the resources they are providing for the shoot, but it can also be done with a budget or open to other photographers. The director and planner put every detail together and coordinate with all the vendors with the desired look for the end product. A styled shoot can be done with only a photographer, a model, dress and bouquet. or, like in this case, working with 10 or more vendors.
This styled shoot we had in June exceeded everyone's expectations, even though it was definitely the biggest and most stressful one I have ever bee a part of. I first started planning this event in January of this year with a photographer from another state who wanted to extend their horizons to the California coast. She reached out with this gorgeous project she wanted to create in the summer but had no idea where to begin. We were very excited as this was a first for both of us, to be able to fully design a styled shoot with all these vendors. As someone who had focused on destination weddings, I didn't have a local team set up, luckily I had enough Instagram friends who were more than willing to participate. The photographer then suggested a second shoot in order to take advantage of her trip down, and of course I agreed! I began putting everything together and had two separate teams for each shoot by March. Mind you I was also balancing my own events plus seven college classes, but I was enjoying it very much. The original goal was a delicate vineyard styled wedding in the Malibu mountains and a whimsical sailboat styled wedding in Marina Del Rey.
The first thing that came up during the process was the venue cancelled on us because they were under-staffed and the host was unavailable. Then the director of the shoot was selling their home and moving states in April. The poor thing was in over her head so I tried to take care of the details on my own hoping it would be exactly what she was imagining. In May, I had to go to Mexico to get physical therapy for a hip injury I had, and I ended up being there all month. I was also in finals for my interior design major during that time, needless to say, communication was not great. The vendors began to cancel since there was no set date because we were not sure when the photographer would be in town. I ended up dropping the second shoot for both our sakes which relieved a lot of stress and lowered our budget by 80%. I still only had about half the vendors we wanted and no venue. Many calls and emails later, I decided to message a virtual friend that had a beautiful new building with a rooftop we could use for the shoot. It was a completely different style and location than we had been searching for but at least we had a venue and we could make it work.
Come June, and the photographer posts on social media that she will be in Oregon the same week as the shoot and was taking the models with her. There wasn't time to shed tears, so I decided to go for it and direct the shoot myself. The morning after I contacted a couple local photographers who quickly joined the team, and both were way more involved in the process and immediately new what I was looking for. One of them even offered to pick up the rentals from the company, since they didn't have anyone available to drive and set up for us. The venue host also agreed to model for the shoot which was a big life saver as well. The only thing is her man was going to be out of town so we still needed one model. I then had the idea of having two couples in order to take full advantage of the styled shoot and all the hard work put into it.
Two weeks left for the event, we were able to get another model and another sweet couple. They were beyond excited to be a part of the styled shoot as it was their second wedding anniversary. Everyone was ready and everything seemed to have settled down and going smoothly. The week before I was even able to get a baker to make a cake for the shoot and I also got a partnership with a custom suit company who were very generous in sending various suits for each male model. Of course, the weekend of, the florist cancelled for personal reasons. Thankfully the team all helped in the race to find a willing soul and we found the perfect addition. The night before I get a text from the baker that someone passed away and will be leaving town so they wont have a cake for the shoot. I wasn't even phased, I already had a plan B for every situation that could pop up.
Now its the day of the event and my brother agreed to accompany me to help set up the venue and clean up afterwards. We packed up a few things, drove towards downtown at 7am, grabbed some breakfast, picked up two dozen donuts to use as the cake, and got to the venue. To our surprise there was no key left but the host took care of it and someone was able to come open up for us. My brother and I started setting up as the vendors began arriving throughout the day. The photographers were only able to bring the rentals that fit into their car so I set up one table that we used as the sweetheart and guest tables. I brought a small white table and a cake stand for the donuts to be stacked on. We decorated it with the extra greenery and roses we found on the property, which ended up being the highlight of the event. It was such a relief every time the elevator of the rooftop opened up and a smiling face came out ready for action. Every vendor brought their own spark and did their job perfectly. The second photographer and model had to leave before their turns to shoot and model so we had to improvise that as well. The lead photographers decided to stay longer to take pictures of the second couple and my amazing brother agreed to step in as the groom. I would love to talk about each individual person on the team and how fantastic they were but then there wouldn't be an ending to this blog. I'm just so beyond grateful for all of them and their hard work, I couldn't have asked for a better team. I had fun with everyone and it turned out extremely beautiful in the end.
Even with everything that happened it was still a great experience and I would love to not only plan but also design and direct another shoot this big. I ended up with a completely different team and made many changes, except for the color scheme, but created an elegant wedding styled shoot. Everyone was smiling and enjoying themselves, doing their part and going above and beyond. The photographers also didn't disappoint, working their magic and getting us all obsessed with the pictures. The best part was that some vendors stayed until the end to make sure we had finished and helped leave everything spotless. We packed up the rentals, cleaned the venue and ended up getting home around 7pm. It was definitely worth it, especially after receiving a sneak peak two days later and swooning over the fabulous end results. (More images of the shoot coming soon!)
MY AMAZING TEAM
Planning & Design:
Carolina Becerra | cbeventplanner.com
Palm Sophia Rooftop | palmsophia.com
Sam & Austin | samandaustinphoto.com
Luisana Rodriguez | @luisanarodriguezphoto
Claudia Gutierrez | @makeupbyclaudia
Azlin Lopez | @azlin.elle.beauty
Lou Urzua | desertproductions.net
Vanessa Ortiz | lavieenrosefloral.com
Sam Khou | @designandiy
Tawny Bridal | thetawnybridal.com
Hartter Manly | harttermanly.com
Signature Party Rentals | signatureparty.com
Christine Rogan | @christinerogan_realestate
Joe Rogan | @joeerogan
Jennifer Laskey | @jennlaskey
Rafael Becerra | @rafaelbr95
Diego Esparza | @leggomydiego4
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