How to Plan a Successful Stylized Shoot

How to Plan a Successful Stylized Shoot

Work for it. Not wish for it.

In colder months, it can be difficult to stay creative. If you’re anything like me, colder months are generally my slower season. I tend to get in a creative rut during this season. (Seasonal depression is SO REAL.) On the bright side, it is the perfect time to work on projects for marketing purposes.

I’ve recently made the decision to enter the wedding market and wanted to offer something a little different than what is out there for the Grand Rapids area. My good friend and amazing bridal makeup artist, Josh Thiel, reached out to me to partner with him on a stylized bridal shoot and I couldn’t turn it down.


I cannot express how important it is to work with a prominent and professional makeup artist. Not only is he licensed, he has so many years of industry experienced. As a photographer, it shortens your editing process immensely when you work with a makeup artist that has specialized experience with keeps skin looking like skin with makeup.

I know the internet is flooded with Instagram/Youtube makeup artists but truthfully, being a licensed cosmetologist myself, Instagram/Youtube makeup only looks good on certain skin types, age groups, and certain events. I find that most brides still want to look like themselves even if they choose to do more a dramatic look. Josh is amazing at that!


With Josh heading the project, we discussed what types of vendors would work best with our vision. It is important to organize a vendor list that is like-minded and would all mutually benefit from a stylized session.

We decided to partner with Palace Flophouse for hair, Second Dance for the gowns, Hyssop Florals for the bouquets and boutonnière, Endless Management for our models, and Josh Thiel for makeup.


The key to success is communication and planning. We used collaborative tools like Google Docs to map out our entire shoot from creating a mood board, scouting models, sourcing the dresses, mapping out locations, and determining hair and makeup looks.


As a photographer, when you are shooting for multiple vendors, it is helpful for everyone if you plan out each shot you plan to take and assess who it would be beneficial for. This ensures you will have some content for everyone, including yourself.

For example, you will want to do closeups for hair, makeup, and florals to show the details. For the models and the dresses, I prefer to showcase them in a lifestyle manner so that a future bride can envision herself in that shot.


This forces you to diversify your session and ensures that you will not overshoot one specific look for too long. I think this is helpful for the vendors too because it will allow you to deliver a gallery that has enough shots so the vendors don’t necessarily need to overshare the same images across social media platforms.


During the post processing, my favorite process is to send everyone involved a contact sheet of all the images from the session. I usually predetermine how many images each vendor is allowed to choose. This is to ensure you don’t end up with hundreds of photos to edit and helps each vendor to choose which photo they want in the gallery with intention.

Once all of the vendors submit their photo choices, I go ahead and start ending the images. If vendors choose photos that are too close to each other, I usually will use my best judgement and eliminate one then allow them to swap for another as an alternative.


Once all of the photos are edited, I upload them to an online gallery where I share my terms and conditions with the vendors for downloading and sharing.

For example, I do not allow anyone to edit my work, crop them, or throw any filters on photos since the photos are the representation of my work and I prefer not to be misrepresented. Luckily, I’ve been very blessed to have be able to work with some awesome and understanding creatives.


What are some of your tips for success when you’re planning a stylized shoot?