How To Plan A Styled Shoot as the Photographer like a Bawse

I am gonna just take a stab at why you’re here right now.

Scenario number uno: You are sort of a new photographer with mad skills and you know you're awesome, but one thing is lacking: a portfolio. So now you need to put together a styled shoot. But how?

Scenario number dos: you love to have fresh pretty images but peak wedding season depending on where you live ain't every season. A styled shoot is a great way to build those collection of images.

Or you think that planning is shoot is overwhelming. Or Maybe not, maybe you've done this before and you got this on locked and you just like to scroll through blogs. Either way I am happy to have you here!

If you don't take anything from this, I at least hope you learn that there’s a photographer chick who lives in her sweatpants most days just right outside of Boston and that Sokkha Photography actually exist in this oversaturated market. Remember though, there's always a piece of pie for everyone.

Oh and quick disclaimer: by no one means does a styled shoot replace actual experiences of photographing a wedding!

You won't be faced with high stress, time constraints, Uncle Bob with the DSLR shooting over you. You might have to scope out an ideal shooting location with that perfect lighting and have about 15 minutes for portrait sessions. And also you won't have to be completely mindful of capturing moments.

There are no retakes at weddings. First look, first kiss, first anything only happens once.

Now with that said, let’s get to it.

  1. Create a mood board

Learn from my mistake folks. I did this backwards. First, I posted my interest of doing a styled shoot and asked who was interested. I got one taker.

Then, the next questions were: what, when, where, and who? Um, I didn't think of any of those things. I sat down for a couple of hours to really think of what I wanted to showcase.

Brainstorming an idea is what you should do first.

What do you want to add to your portfolio? Is it a theme with Pantone’s Color of the Year? Is it Alice in Wonderland? What do you want your images to look like?

Open up that Pinterest App and start pinning away, I know you're good at that.

Now getting those ideas on to a desktop, I probably did it the longest way. I screenshotted every image and then launched Blogstomp or Photoshop and put the board together. There are other free and easy to use software such as Here is a sample of the mood board I created within 15 minutes.

winter wedding mood board

2. Set a tentative date

Tentative, yes because it could change.

Pick a date that would be ideal for you but understand that some venues may be booked for an event. Write the date down and pitch that date to the prospective venue.

3. Find a venue

Make a list of all the venues you dream of working at.

This is where it could get a little tricky and frankly, where I messed up again. Here’s what I did: I emailed two venues because I assumed that it would be difficult to have a venue agree to collaborate but I was wrong. Both venues said yes. That’s great but now I have to turn down one.

Lessen: Don’t waste people's time. Don’t give them excitement of a styled shoot then reneg.

I would suggest emailing one venue at a time and wait to hear back from them. Then, move on to the next if you must.

I’ve hooked you up with a sample of the email I sent to one of the venues. Copy and Paste. Change it to how it will fit your needs. You’re welcome.


I was referred to you by a hair stylist, she spoke highly of your venue. I am seeking out various venues to put together a styled shoot and would love to showcase your venue. I would sign a print release to support all of the vendors who are involved and can use that to build//refresh/expand our portfolios with new images and possibly submit to a publication. The tentative date would be [date] and the theme is [Winter Wonderland] with [Crimson Red, Creme, Forest Green and Light Grey]. This theme is to encourage Couples to not only wait during the peak wedding season to have their wedding but to also book during the winter months where most of us have a more flexible schedule. I hope to work with you and hear from you soon!

Love & Inspiration,



A planner does the logistical elements of the event but if you can find one who can style, you are in major luck!

The planner will be eager to take over to showcase their work by being completely organized, communicative with all vendors and makes sure all the loose ends are tied, leaving no stones left unturned. This will make your life so much easier.

Although the planner may be fantastic, remember it is your vision. It's always a good idea to double check and follow-up with other vendors either by reading the email threads that you’ve been CC’d on. Confirm that all vendors understand the mood board and or theme especially if you are particular about the style.

5. Join Facebook groups such as Styled Shoots of Across America.

This facebook group is filled with vendors who are eager to participate in styled shoot that is in your area-some are even willing to travel.

Put up a post with your mood board including the time, date and place and the vendors you need.

6. Seek Vendors!

Aside from posting on social media, your new vendor friends are great resources.

Find out if any of their vendor friends would be interested in collaborating on shoot. Someone will know someone who is down to collab.

Basic Vendors you may need:

Wedding Planner


Models-If you plan on doing portraits.

Cake Artist


Makeup Artist


Rental company (make sure to ask the venue what you can use of theres, but ask if the rental company has a policy where they are the only rental company who can provide rentals),


Dress boutique

Groom attire and accessories (this can depend on if the models are married or has a dress/suit they want to re wear)

Rings (if the model has a ring she can show case that, again it’s up to you and what you can find)

7. Research Publications and Blogs

Once you've got your dream squad all ready to go (or close to ready) do your research on which publication you want to submit your work to. Some have a policy on exclusivity so you must educate everyone that the photos can be shared once your submissions get accepted or denied. Or share the gallery to vendors once you hear back.

Find blogs that fit the style of your photography and the look of the theme. Aim high, submit to a ton- I can feel that you will get a YES but if you get a NO, brush your shoulders off and try again.

Don't ever second guess your artistry because you ARE good enough to be published.

8. Get your gear ready

Rent if you need a particular lens or camera body.

I knew that my bride was going to have a 2.5 carat heirloom ring passed down from her Grandmother, so ring shots were going to be kind of a big deal, therefore I rented a Canon 100mm Macro lens from which was cost effective.

Plan ahead of the type of images you want such as detailed shots or a wide angle lens so you are prepared with the equipment you need.

Invitations by Brown Fox Creative and velvet ribbon by Party Crush Studio

Vendors shown in Images:

Venue: Willowdale Estates

Wedding Planner: Jillian Howell Events

Calligraphy: Brown Fox Creative

Florist: White Moss and Twigs

Velvet Ribbon and Runner: Party Crush Studio

Rentals: Party Rental Ltd.

Cake Artist: Lizzie's Bakery

Let me know if this blog helped you at all because it encourages me to share more of what I know. I love helping people grow. Feedback is always greatly appreciated, constructive critisim is welcome but leave the negativity unpublished and behind your own screen. It's 2018, spread love.

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