Olga Levien
New Zealand Artist | Mentor | Mum

Olga Levien wedding | documentary family photographers Blog

Personal projects and documentary-lifestyle photographs taken by Olga Levien photography artist - wedding and family photographer in Auckland, New Zealand and international.

Styled Shoot 101 - Wedding Vendors Collaboration - Inspiration - Business Boost {Photography education | online tutorials for photographers}

Styled Shoot 101 - Wedding Vendors Collaboration - Inspiration - Business Boost

Photography education | online tutorials for photographers

It's not a secret Styled Shoot is a great way to find creative inspiration, fill your portfolio with new amazing images and also great networking with other vendors, allow you to boost your business. 

Let's look through some tips and tricks around the Styled Shoots! {i did a few styled shoot, two of them during this year and enjoyed it!}. My recent styled shoot was done just a few days ago, right after the busy weekend with the wedding, engagement shoot and travelling around to these locations. It feels almost impossible to fit in the schedule, but at the same moment so good when it been done}


Just note: You can organise styled shoot by yourself {and invite all other vendors, don't be afraid to hear NO, that what you get in worst case scenario, best case you will get a new contacts, networking and fun time to collaborate with amazingly talented and inspired people} or to be invited to work with other vendors {its still not take off the responsibility as people expecting you to know what to do and how to shoot}.

1. Theme and subject.

Choose a theme, mood, style, location and anything else that go along this line. It can be dark and moody, bright and colourful, edgy, airy and so on and on. Only you know what makes your heart sing, what direction you want to take, where to find your inspiration. Decide if you need one or few models {their gender and age}.


2. Location - location choice comes alongside with theme and has a significant impact/influence on all other details {beach, forest, field, urban city landscape, there so many options!}. You need to feel comfortable with all these choices. For example a few months ago I shot Urban Styled Shoot {been invited just two days before as another photographer can't make it for personal reasons}, and I felt it's not my cup of tea, as I prefer more natural landscapes and freedom feeling.


3. Models - you can use professional models or amateur freelance models. Pros and cons: professional models know exactly what to do and change their body position, head turn with each camera click, while not professional models need more time to work on and directions. In the other hand, professional models have some go-to / learnt fashion poses that cannot go along with your theme {for example, if you need more candid casual feel}, then you need to re-direct them in the right direction and take more control on what product you will receive.

Also remember, working with few models in one frame harder then with just one. But also can be fun to set up the scene.


4. Set up - make sure to arrive on location earlier, so you have a chance to look around, check light, give some advice on a scene set up if needed {for example, tables, flowers, cattery, any other decorations items}. For instance, I make sure to show the stylist to set up the table under the trees in the shade, or some other little things near the windows in areas where enough light is coming through.


Don't be afraid to move things around how you feel will benefit the shot {for example when I been shooting table settings I straighten the items or move them slightly to reach the harmony in shot} and even gave advice on what colour flowers, or where to place them as you, a photographer can see how scene will look in the camera.


5. Vendors. Team work - remember, a styled shoot is a team effort. It's so important to think about each vendor participating and try to cover all their interests. I love to communicate with each vendor and find out what their needs. For example, in the recent photo shoot we had:

- makeup artist

- hair stylist

- event stylist | planner

- florist

- venue | event manager

- prop hire

- bridal designer | gowns

- cake designer

- stationery | calligraphy | sign maker, engraving | macrame

- photographer

- videographer

and the main organiser of the Wedding fair


While I been chatting with the florist, I found it's important to turn flowers a certain way, so after each change of model/dress / location, I been checking with florist if flowers look their best. Same with dresses {designer been smoothing them and adjusting till each little details looks the best during all shoot. When she saw I put a lot of attention how lines and features look like she felt more relaxed as she saw everything in good hands, under control and I will make sure her work seems the best}, same with cake or any other details.


6. Shooting.

Variety of photos:

Make sure to take plenty of photos in an as much variety {and number of shots} as you can:

- wide scene shot {horizontal, vertical}

- middle range {horizontal, vertical}

- close up {horizontal, vertical}

- side angles

- shoot from the top of the setting/details {horizontal, vertical}

- dress details, dress movement, dress from the back {all on the model, of course}

- Hair/jewellery

- close up portraits with makeup {horizontal and vertical}

- cake in the scene, cake full-length {horizontal and vertical}, just top of the cake {h and v}, cake details as flowers, and other decorations.

- model with flower bouquet, just her holding flowers {faceless close up}, and flowers details

- anything else that can be part of the scene/story / adds on to the gallery {maybe just to show feel and atmosphere of the place, showcase the venue}

Examples with a cake:


Make sure to choose appropriate aperture - get the higher number when you need to have more details in the focus {2.8-3.5} and lower number when you want to showcase just specific aspect {for example 1.4 / 1.6}.

Locations and light.

Have a plan and also allow to go with the flow. For example, I had some places of interest - locations that I wanted to use on my recent shoot {as old school, church, area under the trees with table setting}, but some other places never been used or I found few new spots on the way. Remember sun positioning can change dramatically drink all day shoot {or even right after morning when the sun high in the sky, light will be harsher. Then I use indoor spots or areas under the tree more. Don't be afraid to use a direct light as well; it can give an exciting variety to the gallery.

Be patient.

The shoot can take a long time and not exactly because you need to shoot long, but mostly because you often need to hang around waiting on the scene set up, models hair and makeup done, changing dresses, re-arranging the scenes, decorations etc. So keep calm and carry on. I used this time for scout location, had cup of coffee with organiser, chat with videographer, floral designer, help to set up decorations with stylists / gave some advice, check out with dresses designer what variety she has and trying to see what dresses I will be using in each location {as some perfectly goes with dark and moody spaces as old school and church when others correctly march with scenery and other mini-locations}.

There can be a time when you feel you losing control, don't have any creative ideas or just not feel it, or feel exhausted. Then step aside, take a break, BREATH and come back with new ideas. Slow down is an excellent way to SEE the space, composition and details! {when I felt i done, or can't do anymore with specific scene/model I did a step back and offered videographers to do their thing. Funny enough while they thought what they could do I already had a few other ideas in my head. SO good to have other people to work alongside and bouncing ideas!}


Enjoy it, have fun! Bring the music, make jokes, talk with models, make them relax as well as other vendors.

7. Post-production. Make sure to take all endorse details and tag them all in your sneak peek.

Be FAST! Edit your first choice of images, those that stood out right away at the time of culling and send them to the online gallery to all vendors. I did it the same day so that all vendors will be sharing my images with photo credit {not their iPhone pics } Make sure to have all vendors elements in the sneak peek {don't forget little details}.

Then take your time on editing to reach the perfection. Style and technical flow consistency {exposure, WB, highlights/shadows, contrast etc.}, colours, mood.

Remember, most likely your images will be used on many portfolios/websites and also most likely submitted to different publishers.

Publication submissions depending on your shoot theme. Different styles suit different publications. Sometimes shoot's organisers already have ideas in the place where they want to submit this shoot. If you were not working for anyone and organised this shoot by yourself, then it's your choice where to send. Just remember there are exclusive and non-exclusive publishers. You can choose one or 5 places to submit. Often exclusive publishers not mind if then after main publication you submit your photos elsewhere.


8. Create a BUZZ and keep going! 

Remember Styled Shoot is a way to showcase your work, get more images for your portfolio, show what you love to shoot, particular style of images that attract your ideal client {lots of photographers who starting out using styled shoots to get RIGHT images in their portfolio from start to target their clients, when other using styled shoots as opportunity to recharge and find more inspiration during every season. Shoot what we LOVE!


Let me know if you have any questions, I happy to share everything I know!

Please share some inspiration, your beautiful work on creative | styled shoot, no matter what genre and theme | style. I would love to see more inspiration and ideas!

Thank you so much!


Contact me with any questions!

Great Creative Team:

Models - Georgia and Helena
Stylist: Envy Events Photography: Olga from Levien & Lens PhotographyFlorist: Deb from Creative Crew Make up & Hair: Boutique Bride & Amy Ryan - Make Up Bridal Gowns: Vinka Design Stationery: Inkberry Calligraphy Cake: Magnolia Kitchen Macrame: Envy Events
Venue: Leah from Motat Videography: Wild Souls NZ