Reflections : Thoughts on a Styled Wedding Shoot

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n my last Shooting Star video post, I alluded to styled shoots and how they work...from my perspective. I understand everyone has different approaches to styled shoots, but I thought a few people might benefit from a behind-the-scenes look into this particular shoot from my angle.

Like I mentioned in the video, I lovvvvve photographing stylized wedding shoots. Love it. It allows my brain to think differently and challenge myself. I'm only ever approached for two types of styled shoots: 1. As a documenter (I show up and photograph the design); or 2. As a collaborator (I have a say in the overall design aesthetic). The 1950s Mod Wedding shoot I posted yesterday was the latter. I had lunch with Jesi Haack and we decided to work together. This decision wasn't arbitrary...we spoke about the trajectory of the shoot, our goals, and ensured it was mutually beneficial for everyone involved.


Having said that, here's a few random things about the shoot you may or may not find helpful...why do I always feel like I talk too much?! Because I do. Wow, I just answered my own question...I'm cool.
*Finding a location is difficult.
If you're photographing in a field, this won't be much of an issue, but since our shoot had a distinct vibe to it, we needed to choose a very specific location. A ballroom wasn't an option (it didn't reflect the story), a hotel wouldn't work (too cliche), and a golf course wouldn't be a match. This limited our traditional shoot locations...a lot. It was actually one day before the shoot we nailed down confirmation to shoot at Memphis Cafe...but it had to be in between the lunch and dinner rush as to not disturb patrons.
*There's a TON of work involved.
This pertains more to the designer and florist, but as a collaborator, there's a lot of correspondence and throwing around of ideas. Oh, and there's a bit of stress...not gonna lie. Because everyone is contributing their time and effort (and funds), I felt an inordinate amount of pressure to deliver. At the end of the day, if the pictures suck...it's my fault. I couldn't sleep for two nights before the shoot.
*Things will go awry...deal with it.
The biggest obstacle on the day of the shoot was the location and time constraints. The Cafe itself was awesome...it's just that at 3pm, the light was unbelievably harsh as it glared through the windows. And due to the layout of the shoot, the table and whiskey bar had to be set up window-side. As I walked into the cafe for the shoot, Jesi and Carissa worried about the light. It limited the angles I could photograph the table details, but it didn't limit me shooting in general, so I did the best I could. The light also played an issue when shooting the models indoors, but instead of fighting the light, JD and I simply shot from one of two angles...and made it work. I guess that's the moral here: Take what you have and shake it.
*What's the theme/story?
Jesi and I debated the theme of the shoot, but we did know a few things: no pastels, birdcages or a sofa in a field. Maybe Peaches+Pearls...maybe using the Rhianna's "Rude Boy" music video as inspiration (Rastafari meets Andy Warnhol)...but the "story" was missing. Finding the theme is easier than finding the story. As a photographer, I create a story in my mind for the shoot so my photos can narrate it. It creates a tighter edit and vendors know, precisely, how the shoot will unfold and pictures captured.
*Do it DIFFERENTLY.
This ties in with the previous point. If you're planning to collaborate on an inspiration shoot, please don't do what you've seen hundreds of times on wedding blogs. This is an opportunity to redefine a potential trend in our industry. Do I think brides will wear three-inch fake eyelashes? Of course not...but it may encourage them to think differently about their makeup. Do I think brides will wear a long-sleeve sequince wedding dress? I'd hope so, but it's dubious...but it may encourage them to think differently about wedding fashion. Do I think Pucci-pattern table linen will be all the rage next season? No...but it may encourage brides to take more risks and have a wedding truly reflective of their personal style.
That's what I hope these types of styled wedding shoots accomplish...reminding brides to take the rules and BREAK THEM.

Happy Wednesday!
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Sandy Tam - Seeing this post, I have made it a project to collaborate with some friends to do a stylized shoot. I think it's a great way to push ourselves outside our comfort zone. Sometimes, shooting on the wedding day can be so overwhelming. Practicing shooting "outside the box" is huge. Thanks again for sharing your inspiration. I love checking in and seeing what you've done.  05.18.11 - 9:33am
Molly - You clearly made that lighting work because the light in this picture is gorgeous!  05.17.11 - 12:02pm
Ashley Goodwin - This. Is. Amazing. I am still dying over her false eyelashes! I am SO thankful that YOU brought to my attention to start doing styled shoots (especially while in Hawaii) and connect the dots with what I have to offer as an interior designer and Southern Gal, it's made me look at things differently and notice what makes ME "tick"! Can't wait to incorporate some southern charm into some styled shoots in Hawaii, but in a totally different way! Thanks for always encouraging and inspiring! love ya!  05.09.11 - 12:19pm
Alicia -- Beba Photography - I love that you mentioned that people have different approaches to styled shoots because it really reflects how each photographer "sees" a scene an interprets it. I love that as photographers, we can all be artists and put our own personal spin on things. It's like sitting Michaelangelo, Monet, Van Goh, Walt Disney and Picasso down at the same table, placing a bowl of fruit in front of them and asking them to all paint it. Can you see it? Michaelangelo would paint something life-like and realistic. Monet would use several short strokes. Van Goh would capture the "mood" that the fruit creates, Picasso would rearrange it and Walt Disney would make it into a cartoon. All very different approaches, but all equally as beautiful and special because each one brings something different to the table. I love being able to create something from my imagination and heart and put it out for others to see. I've not done something as elaborate as you have done and definitely have ideas to try that are bigger than my pocketbook, but the important point is sharing your heart with others through what you've created. I LOVE that photography provides the outlet to do that. : )  05.09.11 - 12:07am
cassandra-m - Posts like this Jaz makes me think differently. :D THANK YOU!  05.06.11 - 12:18pm
MARK MARTINEZ PHOTOGRAPHY - This image captures the essence of the shoot and is purely you. Beautiful!  05.06.11 - 8:46am
Kelsey {las vegas wedding photographer} - Thanks for all the great tips!  05.05.11 - 5:09pm
Alejandra - Imaginale - I believe your risky thinking is exactly what has made you the inspirational leader in the photography business you are today :)  05.05.11 - 12:10pm
rich - thanks for all the tips! your shots came out amazing!  05.05.11 - 11:07am
Fotograf Ĺšlubny - Very nice, really  05.05.11 - 9:47am
Cindy Habel - Thanks Jasmine.....inspiring and helpful. Love the originality of this styled shoot!  05.05.11 - 5:31am
melanie bittick - love, love, love the insight and message of this post. thanks for sharing! xo  05.04.11 - 11:45pm
melanie bittick - love the insight of this post.  05.04.11 - 11:44pm
Wedding Photographer Columbus GA - Thanks for the awesome insight in setting up a wedding a shoot. Really was helpful!  05.04.11 - 9:24pm
Gina Meola - Yay! Good points. We have a styled shoot in just a couple weeks, and I'm hearin' what you're screamin :) XOXO  05.04.11 - 7:30pm
Erin Oveis Brant - First of all, you totally killed this shoot! Totally. But OMG thank you for this post! I've been wanting to do a styled shoot and really why shouldn't I do something that hasn't been done before? Why the heck not? Outside of my comfort zone lives the greatest risks and the greatest rewards. As usual, thank you for keeping me in check. And it's so great to see you pushing farther out into new territory. Keep blazing the trail, sister! xo  05.04.11 - 4:48pm
Anahy - This is way cool. It's so true, we get caught up in doing what's current that we forget that we can start new things. Thanks for the reminder. Stay awesome.  05.04.11 - 2:06pm
sarah - Great tips.... I love setting up unique shoots for my clients! Love to see diversity & their personality shine through! You are incredible at what you do... keep being fabulous! xox   05.04.11 - 1:59pm
Emma Godfrey - Thank you for this post, it's really got me thinking. It is so easy to fall into the trap of doing what everyone else is doing because it feels like the thing to do, but it is so much harder to take the first step to something new. How long before Mod weddings become the next big thing?! ;-)  05.04.11 - 12:12pm
Pua - LOVE this! And loved the photos from this styled shoot - so different, and SO beautiful!  05.04.11 - 11:35am
Lydia - You totally pulled it off! Thanks for sharing your tips. I have a shoot next week, and I'm crossing my fingers that it'll turn out!  05.04.11 - 11:30am
Tammynize - What bride wouldn't want to wear 3 inch fake lashes?   05.04.11 - 11:17am
jenn {bow tie & bustle} - styled shoots are the best! thanks so much for hitting on so many great points about what it takes to collaborate on a styled shoot. loved this post!  05.04.11 - 11:16am
Amanda Hill - Very helpful post. I get tired of seeing the same style. And Memphis represent!  05.04.11 - 11:12am
Autumn Teesdale - I have been reading about styled shoots alot lately, maybe its a sign!! My gears are turning for sure!  05.04.11 - 11:10am
Lizzie - I wish I had seen your blog when I was planning my wedding - I let it all get to me so it ended up cookie cutter style instead of something that reflected me! Now as a photographer I hope that I can show my style and creativity with a little influence a-la Jasmine!  05.04.11 - 10:18am
Amanda Hill - Very helpful post. I get tired of seeing the same style. And Memphis represent!  05.04.11 - 10:06am
The Amys - With such a competitive field, one thing is for sure, be original to beat the competition! Love this post!  05.04.11 - 9:46am
Erin K. - You make it look so easy...I appreciate you explaining how much work goes into the process of having a styled shoot!  05.04.11 - 9:44am
Abby Grace Photography - This is really helpful- I'm currently collaborating with an awesome wedding blog in the area for a style shoot. Thanks for posting this!   05.04.11 - 9:26am
Jenny - Jasmine - amazing! Ok, so question - was this an actual wedding? You said "style shoot" ... what is that? LOVE your photos :) so inspiring  05.04.11 - 9:17am
The New Diplomat's Wife - Very much agreed, Jasmine - especially on the "do it differently". Fashion and photo shoots can be inspiration for lots of things, which is why I enjoy these photos even though I'm way past my own actual wedding. But there might be a pucci print at my next dinner party. Somtimes it takes something dramatic to shift one's perspective.   05.04.11 - 9:14am
Sabrina Nicole - Thank you so much for this post! I'm trying to work on a collaboration shoot right now and this was very helpful.   05.04.11 - 9:10am
Adriana Morett - Hi J*, Just wanted to leave some blog love, well, because I love your blog!! ;) Thanks again for sharing so much and inspiring me. xoxo  05.04.11 - 9:05am
Trysha - I like that by going off the edge of the envelope, it encourages others to push the edge of the envelope. &nb