The Perfect Method for Planning a Styled Photo Shoot

If you've ever caught yourself wondering how in the world people are getting such perfectly styled photos of their products or of their clients, guess what? Those usually aren't "real" behind-the-scenes or action shots - they're from a styled shoot! Styled photo shoots are a great way to control the scene and set up your products or services to look their best in order to get some awesome promotional images for your brand.


So let's say you've seen all these amazing styled photos and you want some of your own. Where do you start? There is so much that goes into planning a styled photo shoot, but don't worry: this post can be your tell-all guide. Here is everything you need to know about planning a successful styled shoot:

Step One | Figure out WHY

Let's start by figuring out why we do styled shoots. There are many reasons you might want to put one on, but you need to make sure you have the right reasons! Styled shoots are really great if you're in a creative rut and need to inspire yourself. They're a good thing to do if you have a creative vision you want to put into place (after all, we are artists!). They can help you build your portfolio, but if you're using it for this reason then you need to be sure you're very specific about how you style it. Because these are the photos you will use to attract future clients, you want to make sure you're putting out what you want to attract.

This shoot was created off a vision I had. Yes, that is a real yak!! I have a friend who has a friend who has a herd of yaks. Ask around and you'll find some cool things!

This shoot was created off a vision I had. Yes, that is a real yak!! I have a friend who has a friend who has a herd of yaks. Ask around and you'll find some cool things!

Step two | Determine your WHAT

Second, you need to figure out what you want in your shoot. Outline exactly what you want this shoot to be. Design a mood board on Pinterest and pin your inspiration to it. The clearer you are on this, the better. Here is also where you need to decide on your budget. It's helpful to have all this information outlined and written down for you to remember before you approach other vendors to participate. This way you can set expectations and prove the value you intend to provide to everyone involved.

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Step three | Decide WHEN

Once you have all of this figured out, decided when you want to host this shoot. The more specific you can be, the better. Having a day and time picked out makes it easy for those you're reaching out to collaborate with, rather than just having a wishy-washy idea. You can keep this flexible depending on who you're working with and what your vision is. You will want to give yourself and your vendors enough time to put this together. I suggest starting to plan at least a month in advanced of when you intend to shoot. This timeline isn't so long that people need reminding of the shoot, but it's far enough away that they have plenty of time to prepare.

Step four | Figure out WHO

Now you can finally start communicating with potential vendors. You'll want to reach out to brands that you think will benefit from this shoot and the images. Start by creating a list of vendors you think would be a good fit. Participating in a shoot is time-consuming, and chances are these brands get multiple offers to join styled shoots. Ensure you give your shoot the best chance of getting chosen by building a relationship with brands before pitching your idea. Think of it this way: if a random person came to you and asked you to donate your skills, would you accept as readily as if it were something you know and like? Start by following them on social media, commenting on their posts, and reaching out to them in a DM to just say 'hi'. Or if they're local to your area, bring them a plate of cookies and be friendly! This will help a lot! Next, build your pitch. You want to make this email detail-oriented, yet short and to the point. Be sure to be personable, and include all the information someone will need to make a decision. You can build a generic pitch email, but be sure to customize each one before you send it. Nothing is worse than receiving a copy and paste email. Personalize the email with something about the business, and why you think they'd be a great fit. Tell them how this will benefit them. Show that you've done research about their business.

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Step five | The Day of

Pulling off a styled shoot can be just as stressful as a wedding! The morning of the shoot, you'll be running around gathering the supplies from vendors, making sure your models are getting what they need, and putting it all together. Be sure to give yourself ample time to get it all set up, and always budget more time than you think you'll need. Some things will fall through, but just stay flexible and be okay with doing without. During the shoot, if you are the photographer, be sure to get detailed images of all of the vendors' pieces so they have good content to post. Take pictures of the item in different ways, aiming for 5-10 images of each piece. This is just as important as getting the images of everything together for your own portfolio. When all is said and done, don't forget to write thank you notes to your vendors. Keep up those good relationships so you can work with them again in the future!


all photos in this post are used courtesy of Calli Richards Photography



Calli Richards | @calli.richards

chaco-obsessed • a pretty okay dancer

Calli believes in living life to the fullest with her camera in hand and her husband by her side. She’s also the queen of affordable travel. See her photography here.


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