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Coordinating a styled shoot on a shoe string budget

You might be looking into getting into styled shoots to expand your wedding portfolio. You might be tempted to join some around the local area, but then you find out they’re around $50-$150 to participate in for one time Photography fee.

First of all, they are a lot of money to join because there’s so many props, venue fees and incidentals that need to be covered when hosting an event like this.

Listen to my tips from tried and true stylized shoots that and been featured in 60+ blogs all over the country for creative work.


If you find a venue that can donate a space, or have a super awesome DIY location like a barn, someone’s Farm or someone’s backyard, I would highly suggest doing that route.

The purpose of the shoot is to feature many local artists and a venue so that everyone participating can build a portfolio. The hardest part is finding a baker, A dress designer, a makeup artist, a florist, a hairstyllist, a jewelry vendor that is willing to work for free or cheap.

The more vendors and product placements you can have, the more likely you are to get published.

When I do styled shoots, I start with the thrift store. You can get so many vintage dishes and even wedding dresses, jewelry and shoes at a cheap or a lower rate. If there are brand names that are popular, like Anthropologie, Macy’s or other big brands, it’s more likely to be featured.

I usually get my flowers from a local grocery store or if I have someone that is willing to coordinate the flowers that has a business, I work with them personally.

Of course getting flowers from your neighbor’s field or your backyard is always an option, but remember the point is to feature local vendors and artists- so even if you use flowers from your backyard, try to get someone who is a business owner or a budding florist to help you coordinate or style to get more views.

Getting a cake baker might be difficult, unless you know someone from your church or yoga group that wants to branch out and do a wedding portfolio on the cheap.

I’ve been shooting for several years with different partnerships from local vendors, so it’s easy for me to make a few phone calls. Even getting just a cake stand or cake design elements from Michael’s, is a great way to feature a vendor in a creative way-if you can’t find someone local.

You can feature make-up products, like ones found at Sephora or other local Ulta beauty type of stores if you can’t find a professional make up artist and hair artist to work with you for free.

Make sure you give lots of time to shoot details and set up a whole lot of overdone props around a particular theme- like retro, vintage, BoHo, rustic and other types of commonly used words for a wedding so that your blog and have better SEO capabilities later on.

Publishers want to see 80% details and only 20% actual portrait photos. Of the 20% portrait photos, they want to see a lot of the product placements- the earrings, the necklace, the dress, the shoes, and little with the actual couple only.

They also want to see a variety of different sizes like mostly portrait and only some in landscape since most blogs are scrolling capable with Pinterest-powered for marketing.

Stick with a particular color scheme, spray paint silverware or dishes if you have to to follow that particular pallet. Publishers love seeing a mood board with particular inspirational photos and colors and textures that you used in the shoot. Use spray paint a lot to spray over old winebottles, beer bottles and other random things at the thrift store to stick with the theme.

Make sure you have a big table with a lot of placesettings with random food for detail shots and a menu idea printed off on your home computer with fancy fonts from

Definitely have an invitation set made, lots of places online will allow you to have a sample stationary said that you can order for free or cheap.

You can also ask a local graphic designer friend to donate design services and you print off on your home computer. You’re going to want an entire table of just invitations and stationary with tons of ribbons and other props for textures and flat layers because these are huge for publishers.


You are going to want to do detail shots of just the bride featuring all the products and jewelry, hair and make up that she is featuring.

Do some of the bride and groom with a lot of detail shots of the hands, editorial poses with chairs and furniture.

If you can rent chairs and furniture from a vintage seller online, that would be amazing. If it is too expensive to rent, then borrowing some from friends and featuring then in the credits if they own a business would be a great list of people to have. (crediting those that helped out with the shoot but don’t own a business and can’t be tagged on social media is a waste of effort since companies and publishers really want to be able to see other businesses coming together for their SEO)

It’s probably going to take several hours to do all of the posing and detail shots, so make sure you a lot around 2 to 4 hours of time in shooting, set up, hair and make up and more. Therefore, providing pizza and snacks for the models is really helpful.

Make sure, you coordinate with your hair and make up person, to dab sweat, reapply make-up after eating and more.

You were going to really need to have someone who’s good at organization and administration to get all the moving pieces set up and shooting everything in a timely matter. It would be really helpful if they had wedding coordination experience or can be tagged as a business.

Remember, most publishers want to see at least 6 to 7 vendors, products, or businesses. Tagged in a stylized shoot. (subscribing to is a great investment of only $15-$20 a month to get your hands on being published multiple times all over the country and world)


If coordinating a stylized shoot and getting all the moving pieces is too much, maybe the initial investment and $50-$150 of shooting with a team of photographers and other vendors on an advertised premade shoot might be the way to go for you if you are first starting out.

If you really want to save money, the best thing to do is just get a couple of them dressed in something fancy and get a random bouquet from the grocery store and go out to a field somewhere and shoot beautiful photos.

These are awesome to expand your portfolio but if you really want to see future wedding portfolio come out of it, running a professional stylized shoot is a great thing to do to get your feet wet.

After 55+ weddings, we can tell you that the photographer is the unseen Wedding Coordinator of the entire day and has to know a lot of the behind-the-scenes. Running astylized shoot is very similar to running an actual wedding. For us, the experience of coordinating a shoot, was very similar to running an actual wedding day.


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