The Right and Wrong Way to Utilize a Styled Shoot

The Right and Wrong Way to Utilize a Styled Shoot

Styled photo sessions can be a powerful tool for any wedding photographer’s portfolio. However, if utilized incorrectly, styled photos can arguably hurt the wedding photography industry. Here’s how to properly use styled photo sessions for your portfolio.

There is a time and place for styled photo sessions. They’re gorgeous, offer potential brides and grooms ample inspiration for their own weddings, and can bolster the visibility of the photographer. However, if misused, styled photos can lead to incorrect expectations and a bad experience for both photographer and client alike.

When It’s Not Ok to Use Styled Shoots in a Portfolio

As a professional wedding photographer, one of your main jobs is making sure to set the right expectation with clients. Improperly managed expectations lead to miscommunication, assumptions, and a slew of other issues that no creative would ever want to run into with their photography business.

It stands to reason, then, that if a photographer is inexperienced and hasn’t photographed many (or any) weddings, but uses a styled photo session within their portfolio to appear more experienced than they actually are, it’s going to set the wrong expectation with future clients. Styled photo shoots shouldn’t be used in the place of real weddings.

If you’re just starting your wedding photography business, there is nothing wrong with attending or setting up a styled shoot and including it in your portfolio, just make sure that when a potential client inquires regarding your photography services, you’re setting the right expectations so they know how much experience you actually have as a professional wedding photographer.

The Right Way to Utilize a Styled Photo Shoot   

Styled sessions can be a powerful tool for marketing oneself. Organizing a styled shoot can also be the answer to a creative drought, allowing the photographer to exercise their creative muscles.

The best way to utilize a styled shoot is in a portfolio of a photographer who already has ample experience photographing weddings and couples. Supplementing your wedding portfolio with styled photos is a great way to show off your skills while also maintaining proper expectations by showcasing styled photos alongside real wedding photos.

So long as you’re not masquerading styled photos as real wedding photos, they’re a great way to show off your technical skills to clients and fellow photographers. Attending a styled photoshoot can be an excellent tool for your portfolio, so long as you’re utilizing the shoot correctly and making sure that your actual experience photographing real weddings is not muddled by how many styled photoshoots you’ve attended.    

Lead Image by Ibrahim Asad via Pexels, used under Creative Commons.

Danette Chappell's picture

Danette is a Las Vegas-based wedding and elopement photographer who's photographed over 1,500 weddings and elopements in 14 different states. She has a passion for teaching business and helping other creative entrepreneurs succeed. She also loves cats, Harry Potter, and the occasional video game.

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