A styled shoot by So Lovely Weddings and Blooms and Ashton Kelley Photography

Styled shoots can be a great way to collaborate or allow yourself creative freedom in the shooting field. We see beautiful inspiration sessions happening all the time, and it’s quickly become a common practice among wedding photographers. While deciding to do one is the easy part, determining how to pull it all together can be difficult. If you aren’t sure where to start, I hope today’s post helps you! Below, I’m sharing five tips to help you plan for your first or next styled adventure.

A styled shoot by So Lovely Weddings and Blooms and Ashton Kelley PhotographyHere are some tips for getting started:

  1. Determine a solid base. Setting a date aside, deciding on a design concept, and coming up with a venue can help you define the smaller details. You’ll know where, when, and what and that will equip you to start looking for who!
  2. Figure out your budget. It is true that many times, if a vendor is excited to work on the project or has the freedoms/availability to do so, services can be donated. While that is sometimes the case, it’s also very important to acknowledge other fees you may incur. For example, a florist cannot buy flowers for free, so they would be unable to provide them for less than cost. Be open and honest about what you can afford. Most vendors will be flexible if they are excited about the project.
  3. Make your network work for you. If you don’t already have someone in mind you’d like to collaborate with, reach out through social media! A simple status update or posting in a group like The Rising Tide Society or Shutter Sisters can be a beneficial use of your resources. Be clear about what you need, when, how much you have to spend, etc. when you are approached so you can strike while the iron of interest is hot. Bonus tip-Add a picture with your online post to catch the eye and make sure it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
  4. Don’t be afraid of a little DIY. Just because you don’t have a massive budget, well-known vendors, or extravagant rental items does not mean that your styled shoot won’t be fabulous. Get creative and use what you have. Future brides and editors love inspiring details so don’t be afraid to try something new, create custom pieces, or elevate the style of an affordable trend.
  5. Make the best of it. No matter what happens leading into your shooting time, embrace it. Whether it rains, a vendor cancels, details don’t turn out how you imagined, or the cake topples over, capture it the best you can. Much like weddings, you don’t always have the option for a “do-over,” but you do have more creative freedom. Who knows.. the thing that goes wrong could be the thing that inspires the entire shoot!

A styled shoot by So Lovely Weddings and Blooms and Ashton Kelley Photography

Conceptual shoots can really be a fun way to expand your portfolio and try something new! I love working with my friendors on projects we dream up, and I definitely recommend putting one together to see if it is something that creatively empowers you. These can be so much fun if planned the right way! Alicia Wiley Photography and I have been working on a little side project that will help empower photographers to plan, execute, and submit styled shoots for publication with confidence. We’ve set a day aside to talk all about it at our Baltimore studio and you can find out more, HERE.

Have more questions about styled shoots? Leave a comment on this blog post and i’ll address it within 24 hours. I hope this gets you inspired to plan your first beautiful styled shoot and I can’t wait to see it!


Photography | Ashton Kelley Photography

Design & Florals | So Lovely Weddings & Blooms

Stationary | EAlexDesigns

Models | Eric & Brittany Kinder



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  1. Candi

    April 13th, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Great tips and beautiful pics!!!

  2. ash10k

    April 13th, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Thanks, love! These are from our first retreat in Canaan Valley, WV last August! <3

  3. Emilee

    April 13th, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    Thank you so much for these tips! I’ve already bookmarked it to save for when I start planning!

  4. ash10k

    April 13th, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Yay! So glad it could help you, girl!

  5. Michele

    April 13th, 2016 at 7:27 pm

    Ashton- awesome tips! I feel like there are so many tutorials now to help folks with DIY projects!

  6. ash10k

    April 13th, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Yes!! I saved myself money spray painting cheap flatware gold, making backdrops from craft paper, etc… It’s totally possible to have it all if you’re not afraid of a glue gun! ;)

  7. Lauren C

    April 13th, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Great tips!! I’ve never put a styled shoot together but thanks to you I have more confidence that I can when the time is right!

  8. Brea

    April 13th, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    Very cool! I’ve never done a styled shoot before either, but I’ve always been intrigued by it. So fun!

  9. Lori Stead

    April 13th, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    Great advice!!! Excellent post – thanks for sharing!

  10. ash10k

    April 18th, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    You’re welcome! ANY time!

  11. Mahlia

    April 14th, 2016 at 12:24 am

    This is perfect and so helpful! I’ve been looking for info on planning a styled shoot.

  12. ash10k

    April 18th, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Yay! Can’t wait to see what you do! We’re hosting a small workshop on how to set one up for success and shooting one WITH you if you’re interested in coming to Baltimore! ;)

  13. Jamie

    April 14th, 2016 at 7:29 am

    Wish I didn’t live so far away… I’d love to come to your studio and learn from you and Alicia. Thanks for sharing these tips here though. ❤️❤️❤️

  14. ash10k

    April 18th, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Me too!!! Hopefully this time next week we are shooting beautiful couples in downtown Charleston, together!! <3

  15. Chelsey Rocha

    April 14th, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Love it!! I want to do a styled shoot very, very soon!!! <3

  16. ash10k

    April 18th, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Yay! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!!

  17. Nichole Meredith

    April 14th, 2016 at 9:11 am

    These are such wonderful tips! I’ve never put together a styled shoot before but when I do I will definitely reference this article!

  18. ash10k

    April 18th, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Yay! Glad it could serve as a good reference for ya!

  19. jiyeon

    April 14th, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Thank you so much for the tip! I am having a stylized shoot next month, I will defininately keep this in mind!

  20. ash10k

    April 18th, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    LOVE that it was just in time for you!

  21. Alicia Wiley

    April 15th, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Love all of these tips! There is definitely a lot of pressure on photographers to capture every detail each vendor involved is wanting for the things they contributed. So excited to be working together on this new project! <3

  22. ash10k

    April 18th, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    Love your face! This is going to be such a fun (and beautiful) one to take on!