Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Making (and Magic) of a Styled Bridal Shoot

First and foremost, I do profusely apologize for my absence these past few weeks.

I hope that if you read on you will understand why blogging has somehow slipped through the cracks...

While this might be my first attempt at creating styled bridal images, I'm no stranger to grand production shoots. When I moved to New York City 4 years ago, I had my sights set (as many do) on becoming a fashion photographer ("fashion" being said with sparkling eyes, jazz hands, and a magical/mysterious tone). After countless shoots, and one-too-many 20 hour days behind the scenes at New York's fashion week, I took a step back attempting to remedy a major quarter life crisis.

It was at that time, through the coaxing of some very close friends and the opening of some very enticing doors, that I decided to take a break from fashion altogether and go the bridal route. In my mind it seemed to be far more simple, rewarding, and conducive to paying my bills (though in hindsight, I'm not sure how accurate that perception is...)

What I didn't expect, however, was to fall in love with weddings. What I also didn't expect was to discover incredible ways for my experience in fashion photography to contribute to my style of photographing weddings. The possibilities seemed endless. And yet, I still hungered for the amount of creative control that my previous years of fashion had afforded me. And thus was born the idea of creating and styling an inspiration bridal shoot.

Now styled bridal shoots aren't a new thing. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not re-inventing the wheel (though I'd love to think that I am!). These types of shoots have been gaining momentum more and more in the last few years. Some of you may have already read countless blog posts featuring such shoots. Heck, some of you may have done one yourself! So how can I entice you to stick with me...

What about total transparency? Why not completely de-mystefy the process of coordinating such a shoot, revealing both the victories and roadblocks along the way? But I have to warn you - it's a beast! So I don't blame you if you grow weary - your eye-lids beginning to droop and your mind beginning to wander. But I'll try to break it into segments...

This being the first, most educational, most revealing, and most boring segment of all.


So here it goes...

* Now keep in mind, the idea is that everyone is volunteering their time/talent/product for a collaborative experience.

3 weeks prior to shoot date...
Thursday: Meet with cinematographer. Brainstorm the general idea of doing a shoot together (keep it small, nothing fancy, quick and easy). Decide to do said shoot. Tentatively set the shoot date for March 23rd.
Friday: Schedule a meeting with female model option #1 (how uncanny that she contacted me out of the blue just a couple days prior). Work a fashion shoot previously scheduled for today and mention to the makeup artist (MUA) on set what I'm putting together. She's interested and know's a hairstylist as well. Perfect! MUA - check. Hair - Check.
Monday: Reach out to local vendors in the neighborhood who could be potential contributors to our shoot. Talk with 2 jewelers in person - both want to participate. One other jeweler and the florist are closed. Confirm meeting with model option #1 for Wednesday. Contact female model option #2 (as an additional option... and anyway, I've worked with her before and something tells me she'll be perfect). Model option #2 responds saying she'd love to do it AND she can provide a groom. Double points! Call MUA to go over the general idea of the shoot and make sure she's 100% on board. Email a few wardrobe stylists I've worked with previously to try and get one of them on board.
Wednesday: Phone call with cinematographer to give him the update and continue brainstorming ideas for the shoot. Admit to developing this shoot into something much larger than what we originally set out to do. Meet with model #1... except Model #1 never shows up. Email Model #2 to confirm her availability. She's 100% in. Great! But her male model's agency is being a stinker about the whole thing, so now we may not have a groom. Email from MUA saying the hairstylist isn't actually available on the day of our shoot.

Summary of week one: Planned a shoot. Got a MUA. Got hair. Got a model (bride). Lost a model. Got a model (bride). Got a groom. Lost a groom. Lost hair. Got jewelry.

2 weeks prior to shoot date...
Friday: Email Hair stylists. None of the hairstylists are available. Email more hairstylists. Phone & email wedding dress designers. Jeweler no longer wants to contribute (something about bad experiences in the past). Go up to the top of the Empire State building to gain a new perspective.
Saturday: We have a dress designer! Gain a photo assistant.
Monday: We have a wardrobe stylist! Email dress designer to set up a time for a fitting.
Tuesday: Email massive update to cinematographer. Plan meeting with cinematographer & stylist to go over styling ideas on Thursday. Reach out to a new local jeweler. Reach out to florist.
Wednesday: Email more hair stylists. Reschedule meeting with stylist for Saturday. MUA offers to do hair as well if we can't find a hair stylist. We find a hair stylist.
Thursday: Get in touch with female model. Still no word on male models. Start sourcing male models. Phone meeting with cinematographer.

Summary of week two: Got a dress designer. Got a photo assistant. Got a stylist. Got hair. Lost jewelry. Got jewelry. Still no groom...

1 week prior to shoot date...
Friday: Call dress designer to confirm fitting for Monday. Confirm fitting with Model & stylist. Source inspiration images to go over with stylist.
Saturday: Meeting with Stylist. Follow up email to stylist with meeting notes. Research shooting permits for our location.
Sunday: Meet with gallery owners to pitch an idea for a photo exhibit... (totally different project!)
Monday: Confirm fitting with designer. Create a story board & timeline for our shoot to present to designer. Meet with female model to go over general shoot ideas & details. We have a groom! Dress fitting with designer, model, and stylist. Change shoot location. Photo assistant emails to say she'll now be out of town on the day of the shoot.
Tuesday: Phone meeting with cinematographer. Cinematographer's wife wants to help. Confirmation email goes out to full team along with a light schedule for the day of shoot. Begin drafting a full schedule & call sheet for day of shoot. Prep story-board pdf's for day of shoot. Plan food supply for team on day of shoot.

Summary of final week (thus far): Got a male model. Got dresses. Got location. Lost a photo assistant. Got a photo assistant.

And that brings us to today.
As for the next 2 days... there will be a lot of sourcing & picking-up of the styled elements of the shoot (jewelry, accessories, props, etc), location scouting, finalizing schedules for the day, spoiling myself to a fabulous new haircut, and any other miscellaneous details that will inevitably pop up.

Now all we can do is hope & pray that everyone will show up on the day (they will - they're all awesome!)

I look forward to sharing details of how everything goes on the day of the shoot along with, of course, the beautiful end result! And I simply can not wait to reveal all of the incredible boys and girls who are making this very special day happen.

And if you've stuck with me thus far, you deserve a little sneak peak at our inspiration board as well...


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