Style a Wedding Shoot to Build Your Online Portfolio

Elopements Civil Weddings | Pamela Kay Photography

Why style your own wedding shoot?

Breaking into wedding photography requires an online portfolio with beautiful images of people getting married. There is simply no way to get new business and start making money without having images that allow potential customers to view and get to know your style. You can style your own wedding shoot and build your online portfolio.

Finding models

Coordinate your own photography shoots using paid models in the location of your choice. This is more expensive. This option gives you complete creative control to capture images the way you want them for your portfolio. To keep costs even lower, consider sharing the costs with another photographer. I think this is a great option, and I wish I had a few wedding photographer friends that had time to spare and needed more portfolio work.

Friends and family are an option. This may be a good option if you have photogenic family members who understand the vision you are trying to achieve and are willing to work with you. This is also the cheapest and fastest method to get images up on your site. On the negative side, it may be awkward working with family members. Family members often do not follow your creative direction. Asking family members to sign a model release may be uncomfortable. I personally would not ask anyone in my immediate family to sign a legal photo release. What if your family member later decides they do not want their pictures posted on the internet? Then, you are back to the beginning again. Read my blog entry Finding and Working with Non Professional Models.

When to schedule

The best time to coordinate and style a wedding shoot is during slow wedding months. If you have no wedding images at all, then the best time is anytime. The sooner you have a beautiful portfolio, the more likely you are going to get inquiries. January, February, March and April are examples of slower wedding months. Engagements happen on Valentine’s Day. March, April and May are good advertising months following engagements. Late spring and summer are when most weddings take place. If you can get your images and marketing in after Valentine’s Day, you have a better chance of booking customers the same year.

Choosing a location

Photographers choose the location for their styled shoot. This decision is most likely based on costs. Parks are beautiful and inexpensive. The weather requires constant consideration. Hotels offer a different look and will look more attractive to potential clients looking for a more realistic setting. Hotels or other venues such as wineries will also enable better SEO key wording on your website and bring traffic based on client searches.

Working with models

Finding models is not easy. Photogenic friends are an easy and fast option. You can also run an ad on Craigslist. When running an ad and asking for models, it is important to be as specific as possible about your expectations, what you are willing to pay, what experience you require, etc. to weed out all of the inquiries that will flood your inbox.

Many people who are seeking modeling experience will respond. You have to really work diligently back and forth via texting or email to find out if they are going to be a good fit for your creative vision. I recommend inviting them to coffee to get to know them. It is super important to ensure you find out how old they are. You will want them to be over 18 years old. I recommend having them prove this to you when you have coffee. You will be amazed how many of these models never respond again once you simply ask them to meet in a public place for a coffee. Other models are hours late or do not show up at all. In my opinion, it is much better to find these things out prior to investing time and money in a styled photo shoot.


If you are patient and make the effort required to find the right models, it can result in a win-win for your styled wedding shoot and online portfolio. I usually offer payment for their time in addition to providing high-resolution images at no charge. You only need to do this in the beginning to get started.

Contact Pamela Kay

I can help. Let’s schedule a latte date and discuss images that will be right for your marketing materials or social media or personal needs. In the meantime, please take a moment to Opt In for updates and Keep Smiling!

You Might Also Like

No Comments

    Leave a Reply