Look Beyond Styled Wedding Shoots
Yeah, I know here I go again to complain about something! A little while back you might remember that I did an Instagram live about styled wedding shoots and their prevalence as of late…and my feelings about them. Let me be clear and reiterate that I do styled sessions myself, a lot of people do them, and it’s a great way to get started in the industry, collaborate and meet new vendors and/or practice your skill-set! That being said, I try to do only one or two a year and keep it minimal. What I take issue with is the prevalence of them in some portfolios, and the message that they may potentially send to couples.
I love this industry – I support this industry fully, but what I have a problem with is when it becomes more about a WEDDING and less about a MARRIAGE. So how do styled shoots contribute to this phenomenon?
Let me back up.
It’s wonderful to have the best flowers, the Pinterest worthy decor and invitations – but not everyone can afford that and that’s OK! I always tell my couples that in 30, nay, 4 years you won’t even remember certain aspects of your day that “went wrong”. You won’t care about the linens you used or if your centerpieces “wowed” everyone. What you will remember most fondly is seeing the people you love travelling all the way to be with you, spending time with those people and sharing one of the happiest days of your life with them! IN fact, what I remember most about my own wedding – was sitting at the table playing Cards Against Humanity with 10 people who we love very, very much. THAT my friends aside from getting married to the love of my life – was the highlight and culmination of years of friendship and camraderie. Everything else got recycled afterwards. It’s not to say that those centerpieces, florals, linens etc. aren’t important – because to some people they really are and that’s fine too – but don’t let it stress you to the point that you forget what this is all really about.
I’m saying choose what’s important to you and don’t feel pressured by what you see in Instagram portfolios.
It can be so overwhelming to see all of these beautiful images – especially if some vendors choose to display only (or a LOT) of styled wedding shoots in their portfolios. “Will my wedding look like those models do?” “Will people be impressed?” “Will it be enough?” and so the spiral of consumption, stress and ultimately EXPECTATION begins. When styled wedding shoots are a heavy part of a vendor’s portfolio, it sets an expectation for a couple that may not always be lived up to. It’s so important to strike a balance so that what people see is a genuine, authentic representation of your skill set.
Some people don’t even question and will assume they will have picture perfect moments throughout the entire day and are dissapointed when they don’t receive that. (Understandably so!) Styled sessions take many hours with trained models, often poses are held and every detail is thoughtfully laid out. You have as much time as necessary to toy with lighting, positioning and details. Timing and styling are a luxury that you don’t always have on a busy wedding day.
In essence, sometimes what’s portrayed is “only the good stuff”. Social Media as we know, is very dangerous for this.
I encourage couples to understand that though we do these sessions for promotional reasons and growth/collaboration, to look beyond them and look at real weddings. Look beyond the styled images. If an authentic, real wedding portfolio shows the couple’s personality or sparks joy or moves something within you – trust and go with that feeling. In the same breath, your photographer should also make you feel this way!