Next up on part 4 of a 5 part series for the Ultimate Guide to Book the Elopement You Want is… DRUM ROLL PLEASE….. plan a styled shoot to book elopements! The bougie of us may call it creating curated content. Sally sells seashells by the seashore, anyone? Hootsuite, the social media scheduling tool, describes curated content as “content from other brands or people that you share to your social media accounts.” We are waiting for Webster to catch up with the times on this one. Long story long, YOU, our wedding photography badass, need to create content that people want to curate, IE share. You create something AWESOME, others share your work, potential couples see your work and say “damn this is fire, book now please!” and you’re off to the races. The concept is straight forward, the execution of the logistics on how to plan a styled shoot to book elopements for others to curate content is where we come in.
Before we get started, If you haven’t read part one (automate your elopement business), part two (stop getting ghosted), or part three (seo for elopement photographers), we recommend you back up and start with all of the goodness in Ultimate Guide to Book the Elopement You Want from the top. Now onto how to plan a styled shoot to book elopements.
Create a Vision Board for your elopement styled shoot
First and foremost, you must be intentional about WHY and what you’re hoping to achieve. For us, it is getting booked for elopement photography. Our second why is connecting with people in the industry that have similar styles to us. Creating a tribe of vendors can help creatively with styled shoots but also be a resource for you. Couples planning an elopement will not know every vendor they want right from the start, building relationships with others can be one of your biggest referral sources. Also, it’s fun to nerd out with someone that has the same passion for elopements that you have!
On your vision board, be sure to keep your target market in mind. Our peeps over at Pretty Presets and Actions nailed it with creating, “something that will speak to your ideal client, and something that will excite and inspire any other vendors you would like to work with.” SWOOOON. That is what we are going for photog friends!
Determine a Theme
Take a look at your vision board. What speaks out? Mountains, lakes, desert? Pastels or warm colors? Adventure or classic? Your vision board will guide your theme. Your theme will be central to every other decision you make. Don’t be intimidated by this. You can have one theme when you plan a styled shoot to book elopements and another theme when you plan another one! The biggest mistake is wedding photographers trying to cram too many ideas into one styled shoot. Having one, clean vision will attract your couples.
Vendors for this FABULOUS Paris, France elopement inspiration:
Settle on a Location
The theme determines the location. Once you have that locked down you’ll need to check out the location before moving forward with a stylized shoot. When you visit the location you will scout for specific areas you want to shoot. You do not want to be doing this the day of! Take a few photos and add them to your vision board. This will help you manifest what you want so you can make it come to life.
Real talk – you also will need to research the policies with the location. Do you need a permit? Are there things you can’t bring? Is there a max amount of people allowed at the site? Plan ahead for the weather. Will you need to bring something to block the wind or the sun or the rain?
When you plan a styled shoot to book elopements, the name of the location doesn’t need to be the attracting feature. It is better to have an unknown location where you can create a GREAT photo shoot, than choosing a location that is going to be overly populated and make it difficult to capture your vision. Focusing on creating curated content, having shareable images that your couples will see and think “that is WHAT I want” is different than thinking “that is WHERE I want to be.” Couples are looking to you for your style, not a specific destination.
Choose Your Vendors
You have your theme and the location, now let’s involve all the folks that are going to make magic with you! First, come up with a list of what skills you need – florist, hair/makeup, models/couple, venue, rentals, catering, getting ready location, fun activity, dress/suit.
Next, do you already know people from the aforementioned categories? OR is there someone whose work you have had your eye on? This is the opportunity to go from vendor crush, to vendor boo. Ask them out (to your styled shoot)! Select vendors whose work is in line with your vision. Remind yourself of your theme. Just because you like someone’s work, doesn’t mean this is the stylized shoot for them. A hair stylist who creates perfect updos will likely not be the one who will attract your top of the mountain elopements. Too many bobby pins for the adventure couple!
Make the Connection
We recognize making the connection can take getting out of your comfort zone, but we promise, this is also where you get the good stuff. That photo gold! Think of it not as them doing something for you, but also you do something for them. By reaching out, you are encouraging creativity and something to add to their portfolio too!
Before you reach out, you need to have a budget. Many vendors go straight to the bottom line. Are you offering an exchange of photos for their time? Or do you have a set budget for each vendor?
When you are ready to reach out, being genuine goes a long way. Say helllooooo, it’s meeee, then tell them up front what you’re looking to spend and the role you want them to be involved in. Will they be part of the creative process?
Feel free to reach out a couple times and a couple ways. Get down in the DMs, out in the e-mails, send a bottle of wine to their mum. Just kidding, we gotchu covered **click here for styled shoot email inquiry template to vendors*
It is also good practice to ask the vendor tribe you create for this if they have any specific photos they want you to take. Make sure you write these down on your shot list. Additionally, ask each vendor how they would like their business credited. Nothing will sour a relationship faster than not crediting correctly, or worse, not crediting at all!! Don’t be that guy.
pro tip: take photos of other vendors behind the scenes
Publishing THEN Posting
After you plan a styled shoot and have all of your photos, it’s time to submit them for publishing. Some of our favorite publications for elopements include: Junebug, Green Wedding Shoes, Wandering Weddings, and Rocky Mountain Bride.
Research what the publication guidelines are for those you are interested in approaching and what the submission process is. Be sure to follow the rules they lay out so you are considered. Several publications require exclusivity in order to publish your work. This means you need to hold back on posting until after you have finished the publishing process. Check in with them to learn their rules as it relates to sharing on social media.
Once you have the green light- post, tag, share! Then post again! Now is the time for bragging rights. Let EVERYONE know where you have been featured and published. It builds credibility with your future couples and other vendors.
Ultimate Guide to Book the Elopement You Want
Breaking it down, when you plan a styled shoot, you are doing a few things that help book the elopement you want:
- You are creating curated content to attract couples that align with your elopement vision.
- You are making connections with other vendors that can boost creativity and build referrals.
- You are showing couples your published work and building credibility with them.
Our biggest warning is not to complete a styled shoot and sit on it. Publish, post, and then go back to our blog about SEO and make sure you are reaching people with your styled shoot! Our ultimate guide works when you follow all 5 steps (don’t miss the next one!). If you want even more, drop us a line or schedule a one on one mentor session with us. Our little black book is always open to you.
This is the little weirdo you’ll be workin’ with… meeee! Photographed by the ever so talented Alicia Parks Photography