Equipping creative professionals to build portfolios with purpose & joy
“to understand how the different types of styled shoots can be good for your business, it is important to know the purpose and benefits of each one”– Dream Team Académie
The four basic types of styled shoots are: editorial, portfolio-building, educational and branding. Some of their differences are quite obvious and others are more subtle. The point of this blog post is to describe the main categories and their specific qualities. Let’s look at the importance of these events and how to choose wisely; before diving headfirst into descriptions.
I could write an entire blog post around the benefits of participating in styled shoots. (oops!…you just got the inside scoop on the topic for my next post) For now, I’ll keep it short and sweet by sharing two…
It would be irresponsible to say that a styled shoot is beneficial and leave it at that. It is true countless hours can be saved and best creative work can be showcased. However, you still have to be diligent about which shoot you choose.
All shoots are not created equally. Before diving into one, do your research. Know about the host or vendors participating in the shoot. Ask to see samples of their previous work. Take time to talk to the organizer(s). Explore if it will be a good fit. Most importantly, select the styled shoot with your purpose and intention in mind. Keep your own brand personality and business vision in focus as you discover the details.
Follow this plan to:
– select events that are in alignment with your business
– avoid wasting time on shoots that are low quality
– resist FOMO by sticking with shoots that align with your brands needs
– eliminate commitment regret by investing time & financial resources wisely
As mentioned in the intro, styled shoots can be classified into four different categories – editorial, portfolio-building, educational, and branding. The similarities and differences are listed for each one.
An editorial shoot is overseen by a single art director or producer. This host wants to evoke a very particular emotion by taking the viewer on a specific journey through a series of images that tell a story. There is a distinct vision for the mood and esthetic of the event. Often times, the story is an embellished version of real life. It is highly inspirational and can awaken the creative senses. In best case scenarios, there is a well planned strategy to ensure smooth execution.
– create or recreate high-end looks that tell a story with the intent of being published
– curate a modern gallery showing current or ahead of its time trends
– get published (magazines, online media, TV)
– build a book that attracts a client who is interested in the most up to date esthetics and/or a client who is in the publishing industry
– provide exposure
Portfolio-building events can be referred to as “content day”, “shootout”, “styled content day”, “photography shootout” or something similar. These shoots are organized by an event host, coordinator, or done as a collaboration with multiple vendors. Vibe is driven by a collective voice. The most prominent reason for a portfolio-building event is to create content.
– to gain fresh content for one’s portfolio
– fill the gaps by showcasing creative work
– develop relationships within the professional vendor community
– provide client inspiration for what is available and possible
– fill the needs of the photographer and/or videographer for the gaps they long to fill in their own portfolios
– highlight vendor team’s unique skills/offerings by realistically capturing the products/services each has to offer
Educational styled shoots may pop up under the name “conference”, “workshop”, “experience”, “masterclass”, or other similar descriptors. These events are highly interactive, combining technical and cognitive skill. There is an element of learning and some hands-on involvement. Education-based events may be a half day or can last several days. Each one is unique but they all have a teaching element in addition to shooting.
– teach/grow technical & business skills
– acquiring images for portfolio
– provide encouragement to develop purpose
– guide attendees with hands-on techniques
– build relationships with attendees and collaborators
– gain clarity of purpose
– get clearer vision and plan for business
– develop stronger technical skill
– master business strategies
– strengthen relationships within the professional community
– equip photographers/videographers with purposeful content
– provide client inspiration for what is available and possible
– learn about other vendors
Words on a page aren’t enough to get your message across in the way you intended. That’s where branding comes from. Brand personality, behind the scenes, and the experience are the subjects to be photographed. During your brand shoot, message, process, and final package should all be captured.
– highlight vendor’s unique creativity
– match the vibe of the brand
– realistically show the products/services offered
– share your story through visuals, visibility, and authentic brand presence to stand out in your market
As a reminder, there are different types of styled shoots. A shoot may be in just one of the categories or it may be a hybrid of two or more. Many business owners have been disillusioned because they didn’t do their homework before choosing. These shoots can be a key to filling the gaps in your portfolio but discretion is advised.
1. Use your business goals and list of values. Look at the purpose and benefits of each shoot. Which one fills the needs you have? How will participating help you reach the vision you have for your business?
2. Research the event host(s). Do they have a clear vision? (inspo, vendors, date, time, location) Have they executed successful shoots in the past? Do their events closely represent the mood boards they show? (ask them to see past work) Do they have a good reputation? (check reviews for this)
3. Look at the style/mood/vision/inspiration boards. Does the vibe of the shoot fit the esthetic you need for your portfolio? If the answer is no, do not attend unless you are participating to fill a creative void. So many pros waste time and money on shoots because they know the images will be “pretty”.
4. Remember that your portfolio is more than just beautiful images. Your business purpose and vision must drive every decision for your portfolio. Keeping this at the forefront of mind will lessen wasted time and energy. Learn to discern if a shoot is filling a gap, a creative need you have, or is simply a gorgeous distraction that you can enjoy scrolling on someone else’s feed.
5. Trust your instinct. Once you have gone through the other four steps, you can decide with confidence. Know your reason for participating and put your heart into it.
Styled shoots are one of my favorite ways to build a purposeful portfolio. Please understand, they are not a replacement for real wedding/event images. However, they can provide images of the content you need to show your offers in a truer sense to your customers. Does this help? If you enjoyed this post, subscribe and tell me your favorite part. I love hearing from you.
ps. Dream Team Académie’s mission is to help you build a portfolio that is a true reflection of why you are in business, what makes you different, who you serve, and what you offer. For answers about how to get confidence, consistency, and banish FOMO forever, drop a note below or reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Read about using your purpose and values in business here:
business core values – the strength of purpose
These are just a few of my favorite reliable resources for the varied types of styled shoots:
Editorial | Portfolio-building shoots
and, of course