I recently did a styled shoot for my friend Olivia who opened up a print shop (please, do yourself a favor and check it out). It was so much fun to brainstorm, gather props, and execute the ideas we had. At the end of the whole experience, I realized that styling a brand/product session is actually a lot easier than I thought it would be, and cheaper too! Here are a few things that I found to be helpful when planning a styled session.
1. get inspired
I talked with Olivia about her vision for the photos and then I went on Pinterest and Instagram to be inspired by other print makers/styled shoot experts. I saw what other people worked with when photographing products and gathered a little arsenal of inspiration. It's important to write down your own unique ideas for the shoot; however, especially if this is your first time doing a styled shoot, look and see what other people have already done! I scrolled through styled accounts on Instagram for WAY too long. It's addicting. (Some of my faves are Lauren Hom, Melissa Male, and Lauren Saylor.)
2. Make a plan
Now, I'm not usually one for extremely detailed plans, but I knew that if this shoot was going to be successful, I needed to plan out how this whole thing was going to go down. Before I went shopping, I sketched out my ideas. What props was I going to use? Where could I photograph these prints? Who could I ask to help? What backgrounds was I photographing up against? After I decided these things, I organized the prints and made "prop groupings." Basically, which props went with which prints? (Later, during the shoot, I mixed it up a bit but it was still helpful to have this guide so I knew which props to buy.)
I categorized the prints that she sent me into a few groups. Coffee/food, quotes, and media (Broadway/TV) references. Then for each category, I created a prop list. The coffee/food group would clearly involve latte art and donuts. For the quotes, I knew that we could use some extra flowers that my friends at Ever Something (where we were shooting) had laying around. I (of course) used coffee for the Gilmore Girls print and pulled out my Amy Poehler book for the quote about empowered women.
3. Involve friends and/or local vendors
This shoot would not have been possible without some of my good friends here in Tulsa. We photographed all of the prints at Ever Something, a local styling and florist shop. The lattes were donated by a coffee shop down the street. My friend Monica offered her styling advice and hung out with me during the session. (Pro tip: a second, or third, or fourth opinion will ALWAYS be helpful when doing a styled session.)
Instagram is a great resource for finding people in your area. Look up florists, caterers, stylists, and boutiques in your area that might want to contribute. (Side-note: I do not condone taking advantage of people/vendors. Create relationships, be kind, and help each other out. That's the best way!)
4. it does not have to be expensive
The biggest (welcomed!) surprise about doing this print shoot was that it was not expensive. I bought washi tape at Target, got food props from either the grocery store or this super cute bakery down the street, and collaborated with local vendors. What I love about collaborative shoots is that everybody wins. When you involve other people, the shoot becomes bigger and better than it could ever be. I think the props total came to $25 which is so insanely doable on a budget. Get creative! Think outside the box! Remember, you can drink the lattes and eat the donuts when you're done! (Perks of the job.)
Reach out to a friend or Instagram peer who might need some photos taken for either an idea they have or a business they've already got going. Create a styled shoot around a collaborative idea and watch magic happen!
Have you ever done a styled session before? I'd love to hear your happy/horror stories in the comments. ;)