If you’re reading this, you may be a new calligrapher or stationer, or perhaps a seasoned creative who wants to partake in a styled shoot but may not know where to start. Styled shoots, if you don’t exactly know what they are, are simply events put together by a wedding coordinator or photographer to replicate wedding details to get AMAZING content for social media. Lots of different vendors collaborate so it’s also a good way to connect with other industry professionals and really get to release your creative side without having to please a client or work within a restricted budget. Styled shoots can be amazing to collaborate on, especially if you go the event if you’re local and help set up or mingle with the other creatives. Although styled shoots can be a lot of fun, I’ve learned a lot in this past year, so I am here to tell you all the things you need to know before agreeing to be a calligrapher/stationer for a styled shoot.
Firstly, go into it with low expectations. Sometimes, you may not even hear back at all from a photographer/planner even after reaching out several times. (This may sound harsh, but this has happened to me not once, but TWICE.) And if you do hear back, don’t expect to receive a ton of photos that focus on your products. A styled shoot includes so many aspects; florals, a dress, couple, venue, and lots of other things, depending on the planner and their vision. Truthfully, the invitation suite/name cards may be an after thought to many of the photographers who are focused on the beautiful models. (I mean hey, I get it!)
As a calligrapher, the coordinator may have a specific list of items they want you to contribute or see what you’re willing to create. These items may include an invitation suite with an addressed envelope, table numbers, a seating chart, name cards, menus, table runner, etc. Another thing to consider is payment. Most vendors volunteer their time/products in exchange for usage of the photographers the photographers take. Before accepting, ask the coordinator if photographers need to purchase tickets for attending. If so, I think it’s appropriate for you to charge AT LEAST for materials or ask for reimbursement. If you’re designing an entirely new design/products, then a LOT of time may go into it and you should be compensated for that (and don’t forget about the shipping)! If they have a specific vision that includes lots of acrylic, that will add up fast! Of course, do what’s comfortable for you. Just be willing to spend the money yourself or have the dreaded money conversation. It’s never an easy conversation to have, but if this is your business, it wouldn’t hurt to ask!
If you take away one thing from reading this post, please, please, please ask for a clear timeline from the planner. Make sure you’re aware of when you should receive the photos back, and what rights you have to them.
-Will all photographers send it to one person who will then distribute them to all the vendors?
-Will it take roughly one month or a few months to receive back?
-Are photos going to be submitted for publication resulting in delayed access to posting them yourself? Be sure to ask all the questions to avoid any confusion and not awkwardly sending a follow up email after a couple months only to hear they’re still editing. (Photographers, I promise I’m not annoying & I know editing takes a long time!!!) Maybe this is a me thing, but I’m so impatient and I get so excited to see the pictures afterwards!!
Pro Tip: When making different items from your shop, make a few extras to keep on hand. I usually only agree to a styled shoot if I have samples already made up, so I don’t need to worry about producing them. I keep extra samples from print jobs (as long as they don’t have real client information on them!!!!) on hand specifically for this purpose. I’ve also kept table runners on hand that have grammatical errors (which is the WORST) to send as a little bonus.
To recap, make sure you’re fully aware of what they expect of you, the deadline, and when and how you’ll get the photos. Make it a good experience and create those industry connections!! It’s always so good to have people in your corner. Good luck with your next styled shoot!