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.