A styled shoot often looks so effortless, but it usually requires a huge team to coordinate and work together towards one vision, so if you'd like to find out a little bit more about what happens behind the scenes, then read on!
Sarah (Sarah Shuttle Creative) asked me along to Millbridge Court to come and capture some of the behind the scenes, and I jumped at the chance - it's a beautiful venue and I was eager to put my documentary hat on in a styled shoot scenario. Sarah organised this modern, airy and geometric Art Deco styled shoot, pulling together a moodboard, and organising suppliers who felt aligned with it, structuring the plan for the day, styling and managing the shoot and keeping everyone fed and watered. A shoot is such a busy day, that it's rare to be able to take a proper break, so it was amazing that Sarah scheduled this in for everyone! It was especially welcome for those who started at 6:30am, and carried right on through until the end of the day.
The morning starts with the model in hair and makeup - typically 45 minutes to an hour for hair and the same again for makeup depending on the complexity of the look - whilst other suppliers begin to move furniture, and set up styled spaces. Lisa (Cabbage White Flowers) was busy creating spectacular arrangements in orchids, roses, hydrangea and tropical foliage. She gave them an extra level of glam and wow by using some golden painted stems which really highlighted the golden framework some elements were installed on for the backdrop. Anna (Anna Lewis Cakes) was busy installing a stunningly elegant cake and dessert table in a second shoot zone, and the attention to detail was impeccable - each single macaron was perfectly placed and angled, each sugar flower tweaked just-so, and arranging ribbons to fall just perfectly.
Whilst this is happening, all the small details are being photographed. Sarah and Holly (Holly Robinson Jewellery) were busy styling flatly on different textured backdrops and in different lights to bring out key features of different pieces of jewellery, stationary (kindly provided by Lou Paper), hair pieces, shoes etc.
As the large installations came together across the table set-up, Pippa of The W Studio worked on table styling, ensuring that the napkins were just so, the candles were positioned perfectly, the cutlery exactly aligned, no detail left unperfected. Emma of BooBridal Boutique, was busy selecting the perfect dresses by Alan Hannah and Mia Mia. She had brought a range not only to provide options and alternative styling choices in. line with the moodboard, but to also find the ones most suited to both the model and the other pieces. Her role is not just providing the samples though, it is to ensure the model (the lovely Jessica Megan in this instance) is properly fitted and that the dresses are shown to their absolute best across the whole of the day - this might mean tweaking the straps, tying ribbons, positioning boobs (!) as well as laying the skirts perfectly between images and taking care of the fabrics between locations. She worked with Holly to also ensure that the jewellery sat perfectly with the dress, so that each complimented the other, and Veronica of King and Bentley Makeup was always on hand for hair and make-up touches and tweaks between shots too, even changing lip colour for different outfits or lighting.
As each zone became ready, Maxine Kim was able to follow the shot list to highlight all the details of the products, skills and venue, shooting in a light and airy style to match the moodboard atmosphere. She started with inside shots with a bridal prep feel, before moving outside to shoot with the car provided by Classic and Vintage, and then back inside to work on each of the styled zones there. This included shooting cocktails on a chaise longe (not a real cocktail this time though, a rhubarb cordial!), with the cake table and macarons (I can testify that these were delicious as we were able to polish them off afterwards!), and with he completed table styling. But it's not just the cocktails that are not usually real - you'll find that typically the cakes are polystyrene inside. This is for a variety of reasons - firstly it keeps the cost down for the supplier but it's also easier to transport, and can be made in advance, allowing for plenty of time for intricate sugar work, without placing pressure on real client orders. And it also reduces food waste!
When you see a styled shoot, you'll often see a very small table set-up, and this is to allow for a heavily styled and ornate set-up for less cost and easier transportation, especially when there are flowers involved. You'll also often see the flowers used in multiple shots in different ways, but these are all ideas you can use on your own wedding day - there's nothing wrong with relocating an installation of any kind if it looks right and can give the wow factor all over again!
In essence, a styled shoot is a very controlled set-up and run like a tight ship to pull it off - everyone's eyes are on every little detail all the time, and the professionals are each managing their skill and product every step of the way, working together as a fabulous team to create stunning images - just remember that the final images are not the full story - there's a lot of planning, effort and skill that goes into a snapshot of perfection!