Proven Tips for a Successful Stylized Photography Shoot

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Proven Tips for a Successful Stylized Photography Shoot

In 2010, I became friends with a wedding planner and during that very first meeting, we hit off as colleagues, but also as artists. An idea had been brewing for months in my mind about an opportunity to create freely, bring vendors together, and allow photographers to experience something new. Orchestrated Stylized Shoots was born as a way to create and implement stylized shoots.

Many people have different purposes of doing stylized shoots; it can be wedding, fashion, or portrait-related. Inspiration can come from a book, a line in a movie, color scheme, or even a random Google search (hey, it’s happened with our Mediterranean Mosaic shoot!). Whether it’s for personal creative fulfillment or bringing other photographers together, there is a basic formula to help make it successful. And here it is!


The WHATS (aka vital components):

  • Theme
  • Models
  • Details
  • Location
  • Wardrobe


Once you figure out your WHATS, you need to figure out your WHOS. Who will be the people involved? And how much involvement will they have? Some listed WHOS may not be necessary to your theme, so match up what’s needed for your shoot.


The WHOS (aka participants):

  • A coordinator/event planner
  • A photographer (you!)
  • A florist
  • A stationery designer
  • A bridal salon/clothing designer
  • A beauty team (hair and makeup)
  • A venue
  • A caterer/baker
  • An accessory designer

The HOWS (aka quick tips to organize):

  • Allow yourself at least 3 months to plan and execute a stylized shoot. It is a LOT of work, so give yourself enough time to plan, contact, and design. (Many of our shoots are planned on average about 9 months in advance! But keep in mind, ours might be a bit larger than the average shoot.)
  • Determine your budget. Consider all costs involved and how much you are able to spend. You can do a shoot for very, very inexpensively or you can get lavish. It’s up to you!
  • Decide if you just want to be the sole photographer or if you want to invite others. If you invite others, how will shooting happen? (For each of our shoots, we have a limited number of photographers because we never want the “shooting line” environment. Each photographer is placed in a group and rotated through different scenes. That way no one is feeling suffocated or overwhelmed.)
  • Once your theme is established, start contacting vendors. It’s best to start with the vendors who not only see your vision, but with those you already have a personal relationship.
  • Be generous. Offer vendors hi-resolution photos in exchange for their time/services/products.
  • Be genuine. Show vendors that it is a great way of advertising and getting their names out. Submit the shoot to online event or wedding blogs. If you don’t do much marketing, then find another way to show your appreciation for their professional contribution. The shoot couldn’t happen without them!
  • Construct a schedule with who is participating. Give times, addresses, and any other day-of details necessary. (This is where it helps to have an event planner on board with your shoot! Let them do what they do best.)
  • Be excited. Verbally ramp up excitement for your special project on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else. No one else will know about it unless you tell people about it. (This gives attention to your vendors, but also people will be on the lookout for these images!)
  • Be organized. Have everything together in boxes/bags and for smoother setup the day-of.
  • And HAVE FUN! This is your time to get your creativity to shine and do what your artist’s heart is craving to do!

Chelsea LaVere is one of the brains behind Orchestrated Stylized Shoots, a successful little division that creates stylized events locally to Virginia, nationally, and internationally, alongside Meghan Gwaltney, a local wedding planner. In August 2011, they helped coordinate a Jane Austen stylized shoot with Melissa Love in the UK, and in September 2012, they are coordinating a photographer’s stylized shoot Mediterranean cruise with a grand finale stylized shoot in
Venice, Italy. Currently, Orchestrated ranks #1 in Google for “stylized shoots.” They really pride themselves on bringing local community members and vendors together to share creative visions. You can get to know them at |

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  1. Jess M
    February 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm —

    I have a question – do you generally sign an agreement with the vendors that their business names will be included in all use of the photos? I’ve had issues where another vendor uses the image in advertisements, vs. blogs, and then the design (I’m a coordinator) looks like theirs. Any words of wisdom on this? Thanks!

  2. Jean
    May 31, 2012 at 12:29 am —


  3. Beverly Ingle
    May 29, 2012 at 11:36 pm —

    What a great concept! My team has an app that would be helpful for identifying possible locations: ShootLocal at It’s all about speed, efficiency and LOCAL RESOURCES. (Personally a huge advocate for local economic development.) Would love to hear what you think! ~ B

  4. May 29, 2012 at 11:45 am —

    What a great post about Orchestrated! We have loved working with them over the past year and are so thrilled to see our stationery and film featured on your blog!

  5. May 29, 2012 at 9:32 am —

    i JUST came up with a plan for doing a stylized shoot yesterday… how much more perfect could the timing of this post be?! thank you!!!

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Proven Tips for a Successful Stylized Photography Shoot