9 Reasons You Might Think Twice About Styled Shoots

March 01, 2018

If you run a business that has anything to do with events, such as event hire, catering, flowers, photography, stationery and signage, props and the like, the chances are high that you will be asked to take part in a styled shoot.

My Event Decor has participated in five styled shoots, and provided items for at least another seven in the past three years. Here's why you might think twice about being in a styled shoot.


1. There is no guarantee your products will appear - unless you pay
The inclusion of styled shoots in a blog and/or magazine - if that is your aim - is up to the discretion of the publisher.

Unfortunately, it may never appear if the style is wrong for that media vehicle.

Unless you have paid money to be in a styled shoot organised by say, an online event services directory such as Lenzo which will feature it on their own blog and on Instagram, there is no guarantee your shoot will be published.

A paid shoot is an advertisement by another name.

2. There is no guarantee you will like the way your products appear
There is no guarantee that a clear shot will appear featuring your product.

Ever seen those fashion magazines where a a model is shot out of focus so you can't see the fine detail?

Your product which costs you money to make or hire, might not actually be photographed as you'd like, thus proving to be a waste of time.

Or one or more of your products supplied may not make the final edit.

Or it may be used in a way that you would never recommend but you weren't at the shoot to control how they styled it.


3. A "free" styled shoot still costs money
If a business coordinating a styled shoot wants to use our products, we spend time and/or money creating and/or delivering that product.

If it is a physical product, such as a prop, we cannot rent it out on the shoot day to actual paying clients. Delivery, installation and pickup takes time, which costs money.

If it is a bespoke product to showcase our skills, we are spending time creating something that may or may not pay off.

4. Styled shoots don't reimburse you for damage to your products
I refused a recent request for product inclusion in a styled shoot which was in fact the event business directory's art director's child's birthday party.

Not only weren't they paying to hire an item during the busy summer entertaining period that I could rent out, but they wanted me to sign a disclosure agreement that I wouldn't bill them if it was damaged.

A regular client would lose their bond; there was no bond being paid in this instance.

During a styled shoot that I did take part in the following week, one of my mercury glass balloons were broken by another vendor by accident. But I am the one wearing the cost of replacement.

5. Styled shoots can be organised by non-stylists
Anyone who wants to show off their (newest) products and collaborate with other vendors can organise a styled shoot: you don't have to be a stylist.

While this is great in theory, those who are not stylists may not know what style is currently in, on-trend, has been recently featured, is waning in popularity or which is seriously passe, which means the shoot may have no chance of being featured.

The person who has the vision for the styled shoot is like a film director determining how the shoot will look. But does the shoot organiser have a sense of style?

6. Your styled shoot shouldn't be practise for a budding photographer
Who has the styled shoot organiser hired as a photographer?

By all means save money on your shoot - but photography should not be one of them.

Because a budding photographer has no portfolio, you can't see their style until the shoot is complete. But do these shots suit your brand or even your website photo format?

In our very first shoot we forgot to brief our budding photographer to take shots we could use for our website in square format - all of hers were landscape which meant all of them had to be adjusted.

We also forgot to brief her to take single product shots. And enough shots overall (see number 7).

7. Find out what your preferred blogs and magazines want upfront
This was a real rookie mistake.

It was only after our first shoot that we collated all submission guidelines of the event blogs and magazines we wanted to pitch our styled shoot to. 

We discovered we had instantly eliminated ourselves from a number of blogs and magazines by not having the correct quantity of photos (we had barely 49 across two different style shoots) or even the right size shots.

For example:
Hello May - 50-100 final edit photos, 2,000 pixel width minimum
La Bride - 35-50 photos, 800 pixel width minimum
Nouba - 1,200 pixel width minimum
Polka Dot Bride - 10-20 images for initial pitch
Swooned - 75-100 images, 900 pixel width minimum
Vintage Bride - maximum 200 shots, low-res at 650 pixels wide AND high-res at least A4-size

8. Expect a long delay
A styled shoot is a long game so don't do it if you need or expect overnight publicity.

All blogs and magazines want exclusive content. That means it can appear only once so you need to submit it in order of preference.

They also take 2-4 weeks to let you know if they want to use it. If the first one rejects it after a month, you have to submit your shoot all over again.

This means you can wait several months, possibly up to a year until your shoot is even approved for inclusion.

While you may be able to publish a few product shots on your own website, you cannot freely publish the shoot on your own social media accounts.

9. You may be disappointed with the result
You may think I am urging you to avoid participation in styled shoots.

Not at all.

It can be very useful to take part to meet other vendors and see what they do, no matter how new or established you are. If you can spend the morning or afternoon with other vendors networking it can work out very nicely, less so if you're just delivering and collecting your product/s.

No doubt you will be promised high traffic as a result of your item included in their styled shoot. Just think about how many other shoots are taking place and being promoted: you have only a couple of minutes to grab people's attention on Instagram.

Does it lead to new customers? Possibly. But just remember it is a rare styled shoot that captures the imagination of the public. 

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