I’ve heard a lot of photographers talk about wanting to plan a styled photo shoot to build their portfolio, but get discouraged because they don’t know anyone who would contribute or are new, and might not be able to afford the cost of planning a well executed shoot. Or maybe, they don’t know a couple who would model. In the end, they feel defeated, and give up before ever really trying. I hate hearing these stories, so today I am sharing with you how I pulled together an amazing styled shoot in less that 24 hours with only $60.
Last week I traveled to the beautiful southern city of Charleston, South Carolina for fun with some of my wedding photographer friends. This was not a work trip, but you know us creatives, we were itching to do something amazing while we were there! Like most professional wedding photographers, we are all romantics at heart, and when we decided to visit Boone Hall Plantation (location of film set from The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks) I thought what a great idea it would be to try to pull together a romantic low country, Notebook inspired shoot. I’m obviously not from Charleston, so I didn’t know anyone in the area. Not a vendor, not a couple, no one. But what I did have with me was my laptop. So I harnessed the power of the internet and hit social media.
The Rising Tide Society group, which I am a part of, was an amazing resource. I posted a call for collaborators and found our gorgeous model Kate, a local to Charleston travel photographer. She had her own bridal gown and was willing to dress up for us
There was a local floral shop just a block from the amazing VRBO we were staying at so one morning before our group hit the town for carriage ride tours of the city, I walked in and asked if they could help up. Unfortunately, it was the week before Mother’s Day and the shop was buzzing with preparations for that huge flower giving holiday, and wouldn’t be able to offer us anything custom. But Manager Diane, did graciously provide us with one of their pre-made bouquets for only $25. Not knowing what other elements were going to come together, we selected a mixed floral bunch in whites and greens.
At this point we had the minimum requirements for an amazing portfolio building shoot. Just look at the images I was able to get using just our models, location, and flowers.
What if you want to do more of a complete styled shoot like I did? You’ll need a paper suite and props, right? Google is the best place for finding local and independently owned shops for this. I did a simple search for a custom invitation shop. For us, because I was traveling, finding a shop that was close by was important. The Silver Starfish was only a couple of blocks from were we were staying. I looked at their Instagram account and discovered that their items were completely individual and would fit in with a southern styled shoot perfectly.
Knowing that they would have samples on hand, I called and simply asked if I would swing by and borrow a few. I immediately connected with the shop owner (after some short chit chat we discovered we are from the same home town) and she invited us in to borrow what ever it is we needed!! Of course I promised them a ton of images (remember we had 10 photographers shooting) and tags on social media anytime we posted.
Most everything else (ring boxes, trays, ribbon, etc) was a collection of items that we gathered from the various detail boxes that the group had already.
In addition to the $20 bouquet, we paid for our models entrance into the plantation (which was a total of $40), making the total out of pocket for this shoot only $60. I’m pretty sure you can’t beat that!!
Styled Shoot Credits
Models: Kate + Thomas | Carolina Grace Photography
Location: Boone Hall Plantation | Charleston, SC
Invitation Suite + Framed Art: The Silver Starfish | Charleston, SC
Flowers: Tiger Lily Flowers | Charleston, SC
Hair + Makeup: Arika Jordan | Arika Jordan Photography
Ring box: Weft + Whimsy
Hand Lettered Song Quote: Letters from Lindsey