My first styled shoot was in March of 2016, and I just got the images back at the end of August.

I know we all have situations in our lives that prevent us from completing projects. Trust me, I have a graveyard of unfinished designs, blog posts, and Instagram almost-posts. It was partly my fault I didn’t receive those photos. I mean, I could have asked before August of 2017 rolled around. I made up so many excuses and let my insecurities hold me back. I thought, “Maybe she doesn’t want to share because my work was so terrible!” Although my style has changed since that styled shoot, the pieces weren’t ugly. Plus, I don’t think the photographer could take ugly photos if she wanted to!

I’m writing this post today to shine light on tips for styled shoots, why I think they’re important, and my biggest tip for styled shoots. Let me know if any of these resonate with you. I’ve asked a few of my calligrafriends to share their opinions as well!

When I was starting out in stationery, I only had the photos I created. Sure, they weren’t that bad, but they didn’t showcase my work in the best light, literally. I messaged so many event planners and photographers to see if they wanted to team up for a styled shoot. Several were willing to collaborate throughout the year, but my first styled shoot wasn’t with any of those people. She randomly found me through a mutual friend. Last year I was practically saying “yes” to everyone who wanted to plan styled shoot. Now, I’m able to take on the shoots I really want to be a part of.

*Note: Exciting giveaway at the bottom!


 Photo by Mayden Photography Photo by Mayden Photography

Do you think styled shoots are worth the time?
Yes, I think they definitely can be! Make sure you set expectations with the organizer at the very beginning of your policies regarding styled shoots. Use your judgment, and if an organizer doesn’t seem very responsive or responsible, you may not want to get involved. Ensure that the photographer’s style is similar to your own so that you’ll receive photos back that you can use and share. Have fun and create something different that you’ve been wanting to try out so that you can showcase your skills!

What is one tip you want people to know about styled shoots?
Don’t be afraid to send suggestions for what features on your stationery to highlight, and even possibly a photo of a sample layout, if you recommend any particular way of laying out the pieces. It may be helpful to the organizer, and you can suggest it in a way where you are being helpful and not pushy.


What is one tip you want people to know about styled shoots?
This might be silly but glue your stamps on the envelopes. I thought I could send stamps in a cute translucent envelope and the photographers could choose whichever stamps looked best to them but what has happened almost every time is that the stamps are placed crooked. So now I glue them on. Send a picture of how you may want the stationery to be laid out. Some photographers haven’t done wedding stationery styling for photography and sending them a picture of how you’d like your pieces to be put together can really help them out. Send at least 2 suites. Put one together and another one where the pieces are unassembled.

Sarah Thomas  |  TRUE NORTH PAPER CO.

What would you have wanted to know before doing your first styled shoot?
It’s really not as intimidating as it can seem! I remember before I had ever done a styled shoot that the process of it always seemed so daunting, and I wasn’t sure what it would look like, or if I was even good enough to participate. Don’t let those thoughts stop you! Once you commit, do the best you can with the knowledge and supplies you have (it can be so easy to look around and compare ourselves to others – but girl, you’re rocking’ it), ask lots of questions from when you’ll need to have the pieces ready by, to the color scheme/inspiration for the shoot, and when you can expect to receive pictures, etc. (and never stop asking questions – even after several styled shoots I still ask a lot of question to make sure I’ll be a good fit for the other vendors), and don’t forget that everyone is on this small business journey together.

Do you think styled shoots are worth the time?
I think this will be very situational. If you’re going through a slower season of business, or just starting out and looking to make connections with other vendors and grow your portfolio, they are can be a great way to accomplish that – and also a way to have a little more creative freedom in the projects! But if it’s a busy season for you, or the style of the shoot isn’t in line with your brand, then there may be other areas that are more worth your time. There are so many factors that could contribute to if it is worth your time; ultimately you’re the only one who can decide that for you and your business!

Sarah Barrett  |  SARAH B. CALLIGRAPHY

 Photo by Lauren Wood Photography Photo by Lauren Wood Photography

What is one tip you want people to know about styled shoots?
Don’t be afraid to experiment! If you have time to use gold leaf, look up a tutorial, and get started. You’ll either create something beautiful and learn you want to do more gold leaf pieces or you’ll never want to see gold leaf ever again. Experimenting with different techniques helps you learn what you want to offer to your clients and what you don’t. If you don’t try, you’ll never know!

Do you have a styled shoot story that could help someone?
I created this blue suite last year. It definitely still holds a place in my heart, but I realized I couldn’t really use the images because they didn’t fit my brand. The images were very moody and dark, which you can see isn’t really my style. Were the photos ugly? No way! The photographer was AMAZING, but it would have been a more worthwhile experience if I had researched the photographer first to see if our styles complimented each other. I now know to ask who the photographer is to see if working together would be beneficial for both of us. If I can’t use the images, that’s one less vendor’s audience that will see the photography. Styled shoots are collaborative projects where everyone needs to be on the same page and be able to share each other’s work without losing sight of their own brand.

What would you have wanted to know before doing your first styled shoot?
Before my first styled shoot, I should have asked the details and timeline. I was pretty much desperate for professional photos of my work. I said “yes” to anyone who wanted to collaborate, and that wasn’t fair to anyone. Don’t forget to “vet” the vendors and really make a connection with them. Keep in touch afterwards!

Do you think styled shoots are worth the time?
I’m a big advocate for styled shoots. I think they’re a great opportunity to work with new people, share your work to a wider audience, and create something you haven’t been asked for yet. I completely believe in posting what you want to be hired for. If styled shoots are the only way you can share your ability to write on agate slices, capiz shells, and marble tile, join one!


As a “thank you” for those who have supported me by joining my Facebook group, Becoming a Wedding Stationery Boss, I am hosting a giveaway! This group is primarily for stationers and calligraphers, but I have a coupon code for something very special for everyone. To learn more on. how to win everything listed below, join the Facebook group. I can’t wait to see you in there!

Giveaway Items:
Arpa Paper in Ivory: 5.5″X5.5″ with envelopes
Arpa Paper in Sage: 6″X8″ with envelopes & 3.5″X5.25″ with envelopes
Arpa Paper in Pale Blue: 6″X8″ with envelopes & 3.5″X5.25″ with envelopes
Honey Silks & Co Styling Kit (not pictured): wood slice, paper clips, fake plants, ribbon, & handmade paper
Honey Silks & Co Ribbon: Forest Velvet, Blush, & Pale Lavender
Honey Silks & Co Styling Scissors: Black
Vintage Stamps from my personal collection
Simply Rooted Styling Surface (not pictured): Your Choice of Color
Wax Seals Custom Stamp of YOUR Logo

For those who can’t enter, you can use the coupon code “stationeryboss” in Simply Rooted’s surface shop for 15% off! I have the “wool” color, and it’s amazing for styling details.

A special “thank you” goes out to Honey Silks & Co, Simply Rooted Surfaces, and Wax Seals for helping me with this giveaway! Go check out their websites. I promise you’ll want everything!

I hope you enjoyed this article, and don’t forget to take advantage of this giveaway! Enter, enter, enter!! Talk to you soon.


Styled Shoot Advice