People have mixed feelings about photos of styled wedding shoots versus actual weddings. The criticism of the stylized shoots tends to imply that they set unrealistic expectations regarding budgets, time, and circumstances. My feeling is that they are awesome. Ten years ago, when I first became a professional photographer, I set up so many shoots, y’all. It helped me practice my skills and figure out who I was behind the camera. These days, I don’t need planned wedding editorial shoots to build my portfolio, but I still love to do them. Here’s a little secret. Whether I’m shooting a sweet family, an actor’s headshots, a flower, a theater performance, a dog, a building, or a 10-hour “real” wedding…I am learning and growing every…single…time. I have some very comfortable skills, but one of the things I enjoy most about photography is that there are always challenges and ways to improve. I can try a new way to light a scenario. I can try to get a wonderful shot really, really quickly or in crazy conditions. I can figure out a different approach to make the people I’m shooting feel more relaxed and confident. Set-up photo shoots make me a better photographer for the shoots that my clients pay me for. Also, folks who are planning weddings don’t need to be intimidated by styled shoots. Use them for inspiration. Even if it’s beyond what fits with your budget, location, schedule, you can still use the ideas in a way that works for you. So, I say, “long live styled shoots”!
This image is from my winter wedding style shoot with the great people at Flower Child Weddings!