What Is A Styled Shoot?
So what exactly is a styled shoot? A styled shoot is when people get together, each contributing something, to put on a photo shoot with a theme of some sort. The three biggest themes I see are wedding/wedding couples, fashion, and engagement couples. There is no same shoot, and each are run different. Usually there is the photographers, models, mua's & hairstylists, florals, and the stylists or ones who supply the clothing. I've only ever participated as a photographer and have paid usually $25-50 for each one. Shoots have no set limit on price, I've seen anywhere from $25-$500 to participate. Most of the time those participating are using what is called TFP, Time/Trade for Photos. That means they supply their stuff like flowers, dresses, props for use in exchange for photos.
Depending on how they are run kind of helps determine what happens. Some are very structured, like the last one I attended. We had groups of 4-5 photographers, there were about 4 stations set up, and we had a half hour at each. It went great until towards the last part it kind of just became a free for all with people drifting. I really liked the structured ones with free for all at the end. Some are helter skelter and it's a free for all, with people and models going all over the place.
So why participate? Before I answer that, just know in the photography world these styled shoots are a hot topic for debate. People have different reasons for participating, I join them because I like to try new things, meet new people, and to learn. If you are new to my photography I'll let you know now, I won't touch photographing weddings. I've been asked before, but weddings are something I won't ever do. But, I think it's fun shooting these where nothing is on the line, these aren't a once in a lifetime events that something could go wrong during. I've met other photographers who are just hobbyists, or who like me were mostly landscape/nature photographers at these. I feel it is a great way for beginners or those still learning to learn new tips and tricks and to get help with posing and all kinds of things. Not to mention you can try new editing styles, without making anyone mad.
I'm sure you've seen these kinds of dress shots before. I didn't think I'd ever be able to take one. With the help of another photographer, his name is Val Judy by the way, I was able to get this shot. I was beyond ecstatic. Every time I see Val I get happy, he is just amazing with his posing. If you like photography there are times when you just know who took a photo without seeing a name, I know Val's photos without seeing his name. But like I was saying, these kinds of things are possible to learn at styled shoots! Mostly, I won't lie, if you end up at a shoot with photographers who are not as we call it community over competition this might not be possible. Which is one of the downsides of styled shoots. Everyone has different personalities, and some people are not community first. So if you attend a shoot, please be aware you are going to have people getting into your shots, so take a lot of shots. My last one I did everyone was really nice and considerate and we took turns with angles and generally out of each others way. Unfortunately that is not always the case. If you see me at a shoot, say hi! I am mostly community over competition and I love helping others and brainstorming.
I mentioned before these are a hot topic. Why is that? Well...I'll tell you. Some photographers call it cheating. Most photographers use these styled shoots to boost their portfolio. Those who oppose these shoots say because these are styled, meaning always designed perfect with time to get the shots, it doesn't reflect what really happens at weddings. (As far as I've seen it's mostly wedding complaints.) That really the only complaint I have seen, but it sure can ruffle some feathers! One last thing! If you are a photographer you'll see workshops and styled shoots. What's the difference? A workshop is where the lead photographers or whoever is hosting it work with you to get the shots you need, they help you learn things about your camera, or whatever the topic for the workshop is, how to edit etc. A styled shoot is just a fancy set up to take photos at.