How to create successful styled shoot

Happy Friday and the third and final day of this late-summer tablescape blog hop I'm a part of!  (See links below for the day one and two blog posts told by my collaboration partners, Lemon Grove Lane and First and Bloom.)  I'm excited to share this post, as I get asked quite a bit from people within my industry how to get involved in collaboration shoots, if they really pay, and how to get one organized.

I've been doing collaboration shoots for two years now with various creatives, service and product providers and vendors.  My journey in collaboration work first came about when I was offering wedding services.  If you've ever been a bride or maybe have a secret wedding board on Pinterest, I bet you a lot of those beautiful tablescape photos you have pinned are part of a collaboration shoot and not an actual wedding.  Do weddings with that level of beauty and detail exist?  Absolutely!  But in order for a bride or the general public to feel inspired someone or some team of people need to set the trend and they oftentimes collaborate to create a styled shoot.  While I don't do wedding work anymore, I do offer Branding photography services and this shoot is also a great example of what a collaborative seasonal branding shoot could look like for a group of creatives or brands.

The making of this shoot all began with my talented florist friend, Tammy, of First & Bloom, reaching out to me and then the two of us recruiting Lifestyle blogger, Leslie, of Lemon Grove Lane to join in on the fun.  

Tammy is my go-to florist girl for any of my shoots!  Not only is Tammy a maven at what she does, I love that Tammy loves to use bright colors and that she only sources local florals and utilizes eco-friendly floral practices. -Something very unique and in true Pacific Northwest value here in the Seattle area.  If you follow my work then you will notice that I use Tammy in nearly every shoot I do! From loose florals to table arrangements, to bouquets to custom floral jewelry - her work never ceases to amaze me.  My shoots, especially my portrait sessions, are always so much better when First and Bloom florals are included!  

And working with Leslie is always an adventure - there's always a million ideas and not enough time.  But let's talk about her home for a's a photographer's dream!  Not only does her home have some of the best morning light for a natural light photographer like me to work with, but her clean, bright and airy design aesthetic carries out in every room you go into. She also loves to collect delicate vintage textiles that help to add character and texture to any of our shoots.  A lot of times photographers have to source or even purchase textiles like this for shoots, so it's nice that she already has everything ready to go and allows me to use anything in her home. 


In early July, Tammy was having that itch to want to create something with full creative freedom and I was feeling that same itch.  While I love all of my client shoots, sometimes doing a shoot with full creative freedom is a great way for me to not only practice any new photography techniques I may want to try out, but I get to practice my storytelling and product styling skills and above all director skills.  

IMO, doing styled shoots like these in a collaborative way do pay off, but you have to approach it correctly.   Whether you are just starting off your business or service or a veteran in your field, they can help refresh your portfolio and give you new content to share with your audience.  And you often times meet new likeminded business owners in the journey.  Meeting other like-minded business owners is so important.  It seems these days that most businesses rely heavily on social media to gain new clients, and while I love IG like anyone else, I've noticed that most of my referrals for my business still come from good old fashion word of mouth marketing through other businesses and service providers I have worked with.  When you find businesses that have the same goal as you, it's easy to want to refer them out.  Plus it makes me look well connected and helpful to my community and clients, annnd if it's a project I am on and can refer out someone I have already worked with and like working with, it makes the job not only more fun but waaaaay easier on me!  Who doesn't like working with their friends??


One thing I have learned in my experience is that with styled shoots, the creative direction is often times curated and lead by the photographer.   But whether you are the photographer, florist, or personal brand behind a styled shoot like this one, I thought I would share with you the steps I take to make sure my styled shoots are successful. 

Step 1: Create a vision board

Pinterest is a great place to do this! 

Step 2: Build your team

Take a look at the vision board you created and start listing out the types of people, businesses, or services providers it would take to create your dream look and then start recruiting!  Be thoughtful in who you recruit.  Just like dating...don't just get into a relationship with anyone.  Check them out and make sure their brand from a Birdseye view aligns with yours.  For example, if you like a very muted color palette, don't choose collaborate with others that love vivid and bright color palettes.  Or if you have a very modern brand, I wouldn't recommend collaborating with a brand that has a vintage or rustic feel. 

Step 3:  Get everyone on the same page

Once you have your team on board, hold a kick off call to review the vision, collaborate on any ideas they have, and ensure that everyone is on the same page with the shoot goals.  For the kick off call, I like to use Uber Conference. It's a $Free.99 conference call line service.  All you need to do is set up your account using your email address and then from there, you can schedule your call and send out the call-in details to your team by adding their email addresses to the call details.  Urber conference wil send a reminder notification to you and your call participants before he call too, which is nice when you have "Mom Brain" like I do. 

Step 4:  Create a shoot brief

During your call, make sure you or someone on your team is helping to take notes of all of the ideas, logistics, goals, and action items.  I am usally the note taker on my calls and I have created a handy shoot brief that I like to use as a template to fill in as the call goes on.  

Get your copy of my shoot brief here to stay organized!


Step 5:  Sharing is caring

Share the first draft of the shoot brief with your team within 24 hours of your meeting while the discussion is still fresh in everyone's heads.

Step 6:  Check-in w/ peeps

Set up a check-in call 7-10 business days before the shoot to follow up with the team to make sure everyone is tracking ok with their piece of the shoot.  

Step 7:  Confirm plans

Finalize shoot brief and finalize all day of shoot plans and logistics with team 2 business day prior to shoot


As you can see from the above, communication is the key to making sure your shoot stays organized and runs smoothly on the day of.  I hope this helps you to get a styled shoot you have been dreaming up and off the ground!  And stay tuned for more about this shoot!  I'm working a blog post that goes over the tablescape story, food selection and food styling from a photography prospective that will be posted next week.



P.S. As mentioned above, this post is part of a 3-day blog hop.  Make sure you check out the following blog posts too!

Day 1: Blackberry Season Luncheon -featuring tips for blackberry picking by Lemon Grove Lane

Day 2:  Brunch on Lemon Grove Lane - the story behind the floral inspiration of the shot by First and Bloom

PLUS I have a couple of deals for you that you won't want to miss!!

Now through 9/30/2018  receive *15% off your first custom floral arrangement from First and Bloom  *minimum $65 order  

Now through 9/30/2018 receive $50 off Everyday Branding or Gold Collection Portrait services or $25 off Seasonal Branding or Silver Collection Portrait services with yours truly. :)

Missy Connell