So here's the truth: I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to host and plan a style shoot. It was born out of a conversation with a local vendor about putting together beautiful scenes and blossomed from there. After I shared photos of the shoot I had another photographer ask me how I pulled it all together. FAIR WARNING: I drank a lot of coffee while writing this!
Here are my totally fool-proof* steps to pulling off an awesome, collaborative shoot:
1. Have or find really nice vendor friends who believe in your vision
2. Get initial buy in from one or two of them to confirm that you would have some interest
3. Have a little pow-wow with people you trust (& will help you) to brainstorm ideas
I sat with a few friends and we thought through what types of weddings we craved shooting, what we needed extra work on, what types of clients we hope to attract. From there, we knew that we wanted to capture a few different audiences.
4. Facebook/Instagram stalk** other local vendors whose work you drool over on a regular basis
In addition to local vendors (#shoplocal) there are plenty of small businesses that are interested in trading products for professional photography. I'm a member of a Facebook group that specialized in this. It's people all over the place that collaborate on a product for professional photography basis. That is how I got the ridiculously beautiful jewelry.
5. Reach out to said vendors, compliment their work and ask if they would be interested in joining the loose vision you've already formed
6. Reach out to local models, friends or find pretty people on the street and ask them to be models!
7. Once you have some vendors on board, share with them any ideas, mood boards, etc. you've thought through then let them go be creative and collaborative!
The coolest thing for me was that my florist and baker have worked together previously. I basically handed them the "themes" and they completely created the entire thing. When I saw the fairytale theme I was like, "whaaaaaat?! How on Earth did they know exactly what was in my head that I couldn't put into words?! How did they know a 6-layer cake with sunflowers was going to be the BEST THING I'VE EVER SEEN (and tasted)?!?"
8. Make sure everything has due dates (you need X from the florist by X, etc.)
I had one vendor that really didn't mesh with the rest of us and we waited on quite a few things from her. It was disappointing because she was on the ground floor of the thing, but she just wasn't willing to put as much of herself in as everyone else. We made it work but I definitely think the rest of us got more out of the whole experience than she did.
9. A week or so before the shoot send everyone all the details they'll need (i.e. call times for specific people, if models should come in a bare face and clean, dry hair, parking instructions, logistics for moving locations, etc.) There are so many details and if you don't provide them, you'll either get lackluster participation or people will be suddenly busy that day.
10. While I'm on that topic, PEOPLE WILL FAIL YOU.
Sadly, I had a jeweler and one of the models drop out. It's not your fault, it might not even be their fault. I was super bummed about it at first then had to adjust my attitude and focus on the awesome energy of the people that were there and psyched about it!
11. Congratulations! You've reached shoot day! Be the hostess with the mostess and don't be afraid to use jazz hands. People are looking to you to set the tone, direct the day and feed them. Give the people what they want... food!!
I did pizza and chips but see if you can find a local vendor that needs great photography for a cafe they're opening or something (making myself a note on this for next time).
12. At the shoot, be sure to clearly give everyone the where, when and how re: releasing the photos.
Realistically, these photos came after my paid work so it took me about 6 weeks. I wish I would have done it sooner because editing these seriously gave me back SO MUCH PASSION!
13. Make it super easy for your vendors to promote each other's businesses!
I made a list of each vendor's website, Facebook and Instagram accounts so we could show off all the beautiful work we did together. And here's my shameless plug for all of these wonderful vendors!
Founder + Photographer: LovelyInk Creative [psst... check out my Facebook and Instagram below!]
Photographer: Ashleigh Saylor Photography (I seriously couldn't have done it without this lady. She's basically the other half of my brain!)
Florals: Beloved Floral Design, LLC
Stationary: A Pink Sunset
Cake: Cake Wasted
Jewelry: Dear Isabella
* I'm sarcastic—I can't guarantee these things at all! ;)
** Just enough that they recognize your name/handle; not enough that they call the cops