Rant: The Truth About Shoots + Blogs
I’ve noticed a lot of talk: be it backlash, adoration or fervor about shoots, inspiration boards and the like in the wedding blogosphere. Mrs. Avocado over at Wedding Bee gave her take on it in her great post “Moment Junkie”. Reading the comments on her post and elsewhere, I noticed a lot of brides feeling intimidated, inspired, frustrated, etc. One bride even likened the “wedding porn” being like the regular, in that it leaves “normal” weddings feeling inadequate.
Since I always have something to say, here it is:
When the styled shoots first came onto the scene, they came in breaking the door down and in vast numbers. I started to feel like Jay-Z with his D.O.A. (Death of Autotune) anthem. They (shoots) were running rampant and dominating all the blogs. It was like—“Okay, shoots are great, but they shouldn’t be the sole content of every wedding blog or vendor portfolio.” (FYI, I tried to contact Jigga for a remix: Death of the Photo shoot, but I am sure my calls were erroneously overlooked). At any rate, I felt like Jay-Z: a beautiful event can stand on it’s own without the excessive styling. A beautiful event is full of details, but it’s also full of moments and memories.
A styled shoot isn’t there to capture memories or moments. It’s there to capture style. Evoke inspiration. Styled shoots are a necessity. You may not like it, but life isn’t all puppies and rainbows, luxeling.
Case in point:
Yes, these are practically insane. Short of Lady Gaga, I am not sure of anyone who would wear this willingly in public. But this doesn’t stop designers from creating them. It is an extension of their art; a way to express their creativity. Even some of the less shocking, but still ill-matched runway looks, I have seen on the red carpet paired with other clothing items and they look STUNNING.
Take these editorials from Vogue. These looks are meant to inspire you and serve as a form of expression. No one really expects anyone to do this in real life. Again, it’s just bits and pieces. So, comparing your wedding with that of a styled shoot that has comped linens and flowers is dangerous for your health. This is especially the case if you are DIYing several aspects of your wedding and you are less than crafty or not a professional. Also, as many people have pointed out, the shoots occur in a controlled environment…but it’s supposed to. It’s a shoot. Although truth be told, I’d like to see some of these styled shoots “gifted” to small weddings so that it can be documented realistically. But that’s a post for another day.
I totally get that it’s about the moments and the memories. But it’s not all about that. Anyone who tells you different is a liar. Like the quote from the movie says “That’s just what the pretty girls say to make the ugly girls feel better”. It’s about both. It’s about creating an experience that will foster the moments and the memories. Truth be told, the memories and moments will come anyway…but the backdrop? Priceless. It’s just like the movies—Avatar had a great, but basic story line. But without the backdrop and special effects, it was basically Dances with Wolves.
The key is to check for the following with any inspiration board or photo shoot:
- Content: All of the pictures should be visually aesthetic and flow together so that you can see the shape of the event through the images.
- Context: Not all inspiration is visual; this is why all of our event vision boards have a story line or explanation for why certain things were chosen or suggested. Details are great. Ridiculously great. And they can inspire other details. Even fashion mags are great about inspiring you and informing/educating you:
- Comparability: Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples when looking to establish your theme based on an inspiration board and/or shoot. You want to make sure your ideas will work with your venue, tables, and space.
- Cost: One thing I am noticing with brides is the sticker shock of what it takes to create “the pretty”. Just like with fashion shoots or boards, you may not be able to afford everything in the spread, but you may be able to afford a few statement pieces. You could also check out discount retailers (i.e., Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc.) for brand name products or similar items. Even stores like Z Gallerie or Pier One for eclectic mixes. Even if your budget is cost-conscious, opt for really nice, quality pieces—even if they are small. It is far better than large, cheap pieces that leave something to be desired.
So shoots…take it as a grain of salt. I hear people screaming for transparency. Ok, fine. But in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter? Whether it was styled or a real wedding, it was still someone’s collective creative genius at work. I totally get the whole “controlled environment” thing. But to be honest, honey, Murphy’s Law applies to weddings, too. I could produce the same wedding at the same place, on different days and different elements would come into play. So, for me, this is a non-issue. For sites like Style Me Pretty and Ruffled, I view those as “editorial” sites and blogs written by wedding professionals as “documentary” sites. To simplify: It’s like the difference between Law and Order and Court TV. Some are for dramatization, others are for reality. I do agree, that if a wedding professional publishes a shoot to their site or blog, it should be clearly designated as such (Just like a singer would never sell a studio album and label it or allude to it being a “live” album). At any rate, I’ve noticed that styled shoots are so prevalent that the distinction has been “Real Wedding” in the title, rather than “Styled Shoot”.
So what, if anything, is my beef with the styled shoot?
I’m tired of seeing the same thing over and over again. I’m tired of the groom pulling up his pants so I can see his argyle socks. I’m tired seeing bowties, glasses and fake moustaches. I’m tired of rustic weddings set in fields and barns. I’m tired of a mish mash of “eclectic” mixes from thrift stores piled together against trees and called vintage. Don’t get me wrong, these were great. The first 600 times. Now it’s redundant and borderline annoying (Hey…keep it real). I’m not against these things…I (and am sure you do too) I’m just tired of seeing them. I don’t think they apply to every bride and I am quite sure that all brides would like to see shoots reflective of their tastes (just an obvious hint to the inspiration blogs).
Just my take. What do you think?
*Garnish*: Want photo shoots done right? Check out Candice Coppola’s blog; she styles shoots and also events. So she knows how it works.
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Hi Terrica – this is a brilliant post. Your final paragraph totally sums it up for me. I too am sick of the sock shots and most especially those moustaches. As a designer, I have even stopped looking at the ‘perfectly perfect’ wedding blogs. I’m tired of the picture perfect weddings with so-called ‘original’ ideas that everyone copies and are no longer original 🙂 That was a bit of a rant – but your post really resonated with me!
Love this! Great analogy with runway vs. reality. This shouldn’t be a good vs. evil discussion. They both serve their purpose and have importance.
(And – I’m with you… no more cute barns for me in 2011. 😉
Thank you, ladies! I knew I couldn’t be the only one feeling this way. It is troubling to see so many professionals putting their creativity, time and effort into these projects and not have them appreciated. Additionally, it’s disheartening to know so many brides are comparing themselves to a styled shoot. There is definitely some balance that needs to come in to play. I think we all want to be chosen for our skill and creativity, and one way of getting that across are with styled shoots. We get to do a lot of things that we don’t normally do for clients.
But as we all agreed to…there needs to be a broader range of “creativity” and not “copytivity”…as not every bride is inspired by argyle socks, moustaches and barns.
saundra, event engineer
HAHAHHAAHAHA… the argyle socks is what got me. What a great post !
What is difficult is when a bride brings me a beautiful photo of a styled shoot, that is obviously made for a total guest count of 12 people… and asks if we can replicate?
Sure can, but it’s going to cost you around $100 per person. Average guest count in my area for weddings is 250.
Do the math.
I think that I love this!
I totally agree with this post & its so true. As a woman that has styled shoots it’s always my goal to make it different & fly at the same time. I try to target the bride that I want to attract & not just what I see on other blogs. I am bored with the socks, mustaches, etc. I think many shoots are done tastefully however they are just a slight copy of what’s already been done. My opinion is be original & let your flavor come through and not just what you want the major sites to publish.
Runway vs reality = brilliant!
@Saun: I completely agree. Replication without education is a dangerous thing. It would be helpful if shoots provided some insight like the magazines do as to the actual costs of the things in the shoot so brides are not shellshocked. I, too, have had brides say “This is my inspiration picture”. And then when you total it up, they look at it you as if you are supposed to have this magic discount wand or magic elves in your basement to make it all appear and affordable for them. I killed all my elves last week. They got into my vodka.
@Latrice: Right there with you, hon! I LOVE to see different shoots. It is so worth it– especially, if like you said, it is for your target market. Even if the major blogs don’t publish it…so what. Publish it on YOUR blog. With the right SEO, cross-posting with other vendors, etc., It may have more ROI anyway!
This post is brilliant! When I first started reading, I felt like I had to figure out which “side” you were on. But I quickly realized the point you were trying to make.
If I were personally a bride in 2011, I would be SO disappointed with blogs who posted only styled shoots in the same styles. I wouldn’t be able to find inspiration in these styled shoots. I’m so tired of the words vintage, rustic, of argyle socks. And how did that mustache trend even get started?!
GREAT comparison to runway fashion. I’ve never looked at it that way.
Oh and Candice’s shoots are all so different from each other. And that is what makes me want to look at each shoot she creates.
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