by: Lauren

Lately I’ve been seeing a few disgruntled commentators on different wedding blogs about “Styled Photo Shoots”. I just wanted to provide a little insight into these shoots from my perspective as a vendor, bride, and blogger.

“Styled” photo shoots, or as I like to call them, “Inspiration Shoots”, are done by wedding vendors because they want to showcase their work. Often times some vendors aren’t able to fully utilize their expertise and talents for weddings and events because of client budget restrictions. And so, photo shoots were born. Personally, I want to see cool decor, flowers, special details- mainly I want to get inspiration from the shoots. The element about these inspiration shoots that I think might be disappointing some is that they may not actually be *attainable* for a bride to replicate. This is sometimes the truth. I can attest that there are lots of vendors that strive to keep their shoots “budget friendly”. However there are also some that put their absolute all into a shoot to show the best of their ability, using the very best flowers, linens, decor, etc. Another reason vendors do photo shoots is because the same types of weddings keep popping up all over. I know that’s one of my personal reasons for doing them- I’m sick of feeling like I’m seeing the same wedding on every single blog. A good way to curb this “plateau” is to enable brides to see new and different styles and designs that can be incorporated into their weddings, which is easily done with inspiration shoots!

As a bride, I looked at these photo shoots as inspiration for my own wedding. I loved seeing different versions of table numbers, paper products, color schemes, etc. Yes, sometimes I could care less about the dress, or I would lust after something that I couldn’t have for my wedding (or didn’t fit with the style of my wedding), or I would find a new favorite color scheme, but overall, they were inspiring. Isn’t that what the majority of brides are looking for when reading wedding blogs anyways-inspiration? (Note: Except if you read {ELD}! You’re looking for advice, tips, and insight too!)

Inspiration shoots are also really helpful in visualizing certain wedding styles. A the editor of {ELD}, I accept inspiration shoots that are styled based a particular word in the Wedding Style Dictionary. In doing this, I’m able to convey to you all what various wedding styles look like, as well as hopefully provide wonderful inspiration at the same time! With these Style Dictionary shoots, vendors have been instructed to make sure elements can be replicated by brides in some way, or easily attained. So no worries wondering {ELD} readers- the Style Dictionary Shoots are totally *safe*!


Any other questions, comments, or thoughts about Styled/Inspiration photo shoots?

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{Insight Into} Styled Photo Shoots via


Founder & Editor at Every Last Detail
Lauren Grove is the editor and owner of Every Last Detail. A clueless bride-turned-wedding planner, Lauren uses her experiences and knowledge to educate and inspire brides all over the world.

15 responses to {Insight Into} Styled Photo Shoots

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  1. Janice Carnevale

    Lauren, great post. Part of my concern with styled shoots is that they are not clearly labeled as such. I think that is false advertising. Another part of my concern is that while YOU may be striving for diversity in the styled shoots you promote, others may not. If I see another Alice in Wonderland shoot, I may barf :)

    • Lauren

      Ah, yes, definitely. I like it when they’re titled as a photo shoot. :) And yeah, Alice in Wonderland- so over it!

  2. Carrie Pratt

    Great post Lauren! As a photographer, I’m constantly being asked by brides for inspiration and ideas. They often don’t know where to start. Therefore, I’m really happy that there are a lot of inspirational styled shoots out there to get them thinking outside the box. I always tell them that they’re just that, inspirational. They often will take the ideas and put their own spin on it. I love that!

  3. Harvey Designs

    we use inspiration shoots to stretch our creativity. it’s our chance to show off just how great our work can be. if we don’t go all out then all anyone will ever expect of us is mediocrity. and we don’t want that. :)

  4. Paige + Blake

    love the post.
    I also agree with comments.
    All style shoots should be labled as such. (I honestly haven’t seen one that isn’t)

    As a photogrpaher, I also see “styled shoots” as being selfish. . . in a good way!
    If I have an idea for something in my head, I want to get it out and see my ideas in life.
    Just as a writer of a best selling series will write a completely different novel aside from their main streem sucess, simply for their own enjoyment, a photographer may organize a shoot displaying and showcasing elements of a wedding (usually for their texture/line/light/mood) they might normally never get to shoot.

    anyway, I love the post, Lauren.

  5. Brit

    Very valid points from both sides. I love a good styled shoot – and while the average bride more often than not cannot completely re-create the elements of a shoot – they can certainly use the elements of them. That is what I think the key take-away is. If a bride can use bits and pieces of an inspired shoot – I think that’s a win.

    AND, I agree with Janice’s point. If it is a styled shoot – it definitely needs to be labeled as such – which you definitely do.

  6. Lucia

    My only issue with these shoots is that often the images end up in the photographer’s galleries and portfolios, not simply on their blog labeled as a photo shoot. Like everyone says, it should be clearly labeled and that is often not the case.

    On a real wedding day, you do not have the time to take that many images of a bride and groom, or that many detail pictures before guests come and put a wadded up napkin on the table or hang their purse on the back of the chair. Real wedding days are fast paced and often don’t allow for you to go to the beautiful locations outdoors where many of these shoots take place. With enough time and control over the lighting, bride’s look, location, etc, it makes it a lot easier to get some GORGEOUS images. It takes a lot more skill to do some when you have 15 minutes with the bride and groom and their aunt is there behind you taking pictures too and the bride’s flowers arrived that morning and are beginning to droop and the church is really dark except for the giant stained glass window casting weird colors on the b&g’s skin and all the rest of the chaos and time constraints of a real wedding day. Yet brides go to a photographer’s website and see these staged wedding pictures, often with beautiful models as well, and then choose their photographer based on those “fake” images.

    As inspiration pictures for a wedding planner/decor company/florist, etc, I don’t see a problem. As examples of a wedding photographer’s work in their galleries and portfolios I do think it is a bit like false advertising.

  7. Lisa Green, Anderson Green Events

    Lauren, I think you’ve opened up the door to a fantastic discussion. I see the value in a photo shoot from a vendors point of view, but few are labeled as a “photo shoot” and almost none include a break down in pricing to show how how these ideas are either attainable or they aren’t. I’ve been the bearer of bad news to many of brides that the inspiration they are showing me is not financially possible, which breaks my heart. I am all for vendors creating inspiration shoots and sharing them as long as they are labeled as such and include a price list!

  8. Christie O. {Hindsight Bride}

    Great post and great conversation. As a DIY, budget bride, I tended to see big glammed up real weddings and photo shoots in the same light. Both were likely beyond my financial reach. Rather, I was looking for inspiration and a ideas for creating a particular mood. I loved anything that would give me ideas–inspiration boards, photo shoots, and real weddings. As far as looking at a Photog’s website and portfolio, you can pretty much tell the real weddings from the fake ones. There is the whole reception thing that is generally represented in a photog’s portfolio, not to mention the ceremony.

    I am dismayed that people would leave nasty-grams in comments about staged shoots. I see so much artistic talent in the wedding industry. Talent that a bride may or may not have on her own. Talent that should be cultivated to be sure! However I understand Lucia’s point that shooting fantastic photos under wedding conditions and shooting them in a more controlled environment are two different beasts. Still, I have seen real weddings exploding with details. Photogs sometimes arrive early to shoot the details. And many real brides and grooms do early or day after shoots to get all of the editorial shots that are impossible once the guests arrive and the wedding is in full swing. Both are in controlled environments with real couples. So are those to be labeled as well?

    There are so many scams out there. I’ve seen photogs stealing other photogs work and passing it off as their own. So I cannot understand why we target such a benign practice as styled shoots?

  9. Eden

    As a bride, I appreciate both “staged” shoots and “Real Weddings.” I saw one site that labeled their shoots, “Faux Wedding.” It made it very clear what you were looking at. Some of my favorite staged shoots are those that give various budget options and include DIY tips.

    One reason why I like the labeling is so that I mentally know more time than a bride might have in flipping a venue from ceremony to dinner went in to arranging the tables and flowers. I can maintain sanity that way. It also helps me eliminate more complex tablescapes that would impact our timeline.

    Interestingly enough I’ve come across photography sites with details from real weddings I thought completely staged (saw the couple from the Real Wedding featured elsewhere). With real weddings you can’t guarantee that all of the vendors are going to be identified or even know who to contact about a designer or detail. With staged shoots you can usually find the items that have been purchased and identify designers you might want to use in your wedding.

    Both types of images serve to inspire. As long as they’re clearly labeled I don’t see a problem with it.

  10. Stacy

    I agree with a lot of the others comments. The photos definitely need to be labeled that it is a staged/mock shoot and not an actual wedding.

    And I do agree with you, Lauren, that I also get tired of the same old wedding. It’s the same as “We don’t want a traditional wedding” spiel, but then end up having a traditional wedding! Don’t get me wrong, I love weddings, but these photos shoots allow for the planner to have complete creative control to allow for new design concepts (or hopefully so) in hopes of possibly setting new trends and providing inspiration to engaged couples.

  11. NYC Faces Makeup Artist Anni Bruno

    As a makeup artist, I love working on inspiration shoots. Most of my bridal clients are really hesitant to play with colors in their makeup for their wedding, preferring to stick to their regular, neutral color palette. In an inspiration shoot I can be bold, daring, and creative. And then a bride sees that, within the context of all the other things represented in the shoot, and it somehow becomes less scary and she’s inspired to branch out! So for me, they help women get inspired and get more comfortable with trying new ideas!

  12. Jill Pasco

    You have a great post. I just love weddings. I just love the theme, wedding cake, bridal gown, baltimore wedding photographers and flower girls. Most of all, I love weddings that are out of the ordinary.

  13. Jessica Robinson

    I think this post is wonderful!

    As a wedding & event floral designer, I love the opportunity to design photo shoots. It gives me the chance to create something that a couple may have never thought of. Sort of ‘think outside the box’. With the shoots that our company designs, we try to design something realistic, that a real couple could recreate. not too over the top that you couldn’t afford to recreate it for your own wedding.

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