Kylie Carlson, head of The Wedding and Event Institute (an online resource for wedding pros) is taking everyone back to school – and I couldn’t be more excited about it! WEI is putting a whole new spin on wedding inspiration shoots and teaching you how to get the most out of them!
From Kylie – Over the last two years the Styled Shoot has had a rapid rise to fame and now it seems that everywhere we look we see creatively styled images popping up on wedding blogs across the world. It is a wonderful vehicle for wedding pros to collaborate and bring to life the story of a wedding, which until the moment of being published, had lived only in the mind of the person who had dreamt it up.
But, and there is a but, a styled shoot takes a lot of work, time and effort, almost as much work as a wedding. So why not make your shoot work harder for you? I am of course talking to all you wedding professionals out there who have expended lots of energy on a styled shoot, only to find you haven’t got quite as much out of it as you’d hoped.
With that in mind I want to ask you to join me as I take you back to school, WEIstyle. Now for those of you who don’t know me my name is Kylie Carlson and it is my lucky task of being the chief educator at The Wedding and Event Institute (WEI). We are an online school specializing in training for wedding professionals and we have schools in the U.S, UK and Australia. So now we have that out of the way let’s get to the fun stuff.
I want you to start thinking of a styled shoot as more than just an outlet for your inspiration and a place to showcase your creativity. And while I completely agree that it is an excellent way to gain publicity and get your name out there it is also so much more than that.
Allow me to introduce you to a styled shoot we did back in April for our UK Campus. And yes you did hear right, we did our own styled shoot as a training company. We don’t just hide behind our computers writing course material we are out and about in the wedding industry all across the world.
As I said earlier the main function of your shoot is to gain publicity, but think outside the obvious and really consider all the opportunities available to you. You have a team of creative wedding professionals together in the same venue who between them can create pretty much anything, so why not use that?
Before any styled shoot the usual procedure is to put together a list of must have or required images. Those are your money shots, the ones that will be submitted to wedding blogs and magazines, but you have an opportunity here to do so much more. Open your mind and think about all the other places you use or require images. Once those must have images have been published and used across all the websites of those involved they have usually run their course. What if at the same time as setting up those must have images you also set up and stage some other types of shots that could be used in more specific ways?
Let’s go back to my styled shoot. Our main reason for the shoot was to get gorgeous images for the headers of our newly designed website, but we went a step further and came up with some other ideas for shots:
- Styled Shoot Training – it occurred to me that there was very little information available on how to create, produce & market a styled shoot, so why not write an entire unit on creating styled shoots for wedding pros? Great idea but I’d require some very specific images for this to illustrate the course material. I’d need professional pictures of the team in action setting up, plenty of before and after shots, and some staged detail shots that could be used as examples throughout the unit.
- Video Workshop – no training is complete without some good video footage. I made sure we had a videographer on hand to film the entire set up along with interviews with our stylist and photographer on how they had produced the entire thing. This was gold! We also did a promo video that we could put on YouTube that would be found long after the shoot had been published.
- Specific Marketing Shots – along with our website we have many forms of marketing including a blog, brochure, social media platforms, newsletter and email campaigns, so we worked with our stationer to create nine specific cards that covered all the areas we highlight across our marketing efforts:
About – this styled shot needed to be fairly generic so it could be used in different contexts. It was very deliberate in it’s set-up as we wanted to make sure it had the ampersand, which is the icon we use in all the logos across our brands, while still being a beautiful shot. The easel and blackboard styled card represented the fact we are a school, but still allowed for creativity.
Academy TV – we produce a number of free-to-air videos to showcase our knowledge and to give perspective students a glimpse of what studying with us is like. The iPad in this shot was strategically placed in the photo to represent the fact that we are an E Learning company and you can learn with us using any device.
Advisory Board – we are proud of our Advisory & Certification Board, of which the lovely Sara of Burnett’s Boards is a member, and we wanted an image we could use anywhere that would be eye-catching and informative, as well as promotional for our board.
Courses – as this is what we sell we talk about our courses a lot. What we needed was an image we could use that would directly reflect the fact that we are an online, E Learning campus that delivers education to the wedding and event industry in a modern way. I think the iPad, milk bottles, easel and overall prettiness achieve this, allowing us to use this image for a variety of different marketing platforms.
FAQ’s – people always have questions about the courses we offer and we find the best way to overcome this is by highlighting individual frequently asked questions on social media, within a single blog post or in an email blast. However, these sorts of things can be so dry that we thought it would be nice to have an image we could use that was both relevant and visually appealing. I think this image pretty much nailed it.
The other images followed a similar thought process to what we’ve outlined above:
– Courses Fees
So how does this apply to you as a wedding professional? And how can you take the example I’ve given you and apply it to your own business? Well let me give you some ideas to start with and then it is over to you.
Start thinking about your business in terms of some of the other marketing initiatives you do. Perhaps you do wedding showcases or expos? If you do think about staging some specific images that you can use in any promotion for this. Maybe you could talk to the photographer about a couple of shots that would work on a pop-up banner – what a perfect way to showcase your work to potential brides when they visit your stand at a wedding showcase.
Have you been thinking of offering a free downloadable Ebook for brides giving them some top tips on planning their wedding? The styled shoot is the perfect opportunity to get some shots you can use within the Ebook rather than using generic stock images. You get to have complete creative control and set up the shot so it is just what you are looking for and relevant to whatever point you are making.
Or maybe you need some good promo images of yourself? Remember we are in an industry where our customer buys the person behind the brand. They want to know who you are, what you love, what you do and what you look like. You could use this opportunity to get some pictures of you at work, as well as some more staged shots for your bio. If you do this just remember to take a change of clothes so you look the part and make sure you’ve briefed the photographer beforehand too. Never just assume it will be ok.
I hope this impromptu lesson has helped you to look at a styled shoot in a slightly different way and that you enjoyed our Summer School as much as we have. If you do want to learn more about Styled Shoots, how to produce them, market them and much more besides, we have just launched our new Advanced Wedding Professionals Short Course, which has an entire unit dedicated to styled shoots, among other things. We have also just started a fun series on our blog called How To Plan A Styled Shoot and we’d love to have you join us!
Photography: Anneli Marinovich Photography // Styling: Louise from B. Loved Weddings // Floral Design: Bo Boutique // Cake & Desserts: Andi Freeman Cakes // Paper Goods: Itty Bitty Bijou // Venue: Fulham Palace.
Burnett’s Boards is a member of the Wedding & Event Institute Advisory Board.