Are we over styled shoots?
It's something we hear lots of at workshops and at industry events - are there too many styled shoots out there? Being a publication that gets sent approximately 50-100 styled shoots every week, we can for sure say at times, definitely! Don't get us wrong, we heart a well executed, well styled editorial that is original and inspires us in this extremely saturated industry. We're ALL OVER great work and appreciate it for what it is - art. So why do we turn away so many styled shoots from Wedding Sparrow? Here's some useful pointers on what we look for:
The lack of a story within an editorial is the number one turn off for us in the Submissions department. A focus on the color pink (or whatever the Pantone color of the year is) simply isn't enough for our audience and they love to see the in-depth story behind the inspiration. A pretty girl in a white dress will only make your editorial go so far and ultimately it makes the shoot look very similar to lots of other styled shoots in the industry and we feel like we've seen it all before. Having a story that is exclusive to you (as the artist and creator), makes it personal and much more likely to be original. Think outside the box, your inspiration should not come from an existing place in the wedding industry, this just sees replication in an already very saturated industry. Take inspiration from anywhere else - art, history, literature, travel - anything except the wedding world!
APPROPRIATE USE OF STYLING
We see all too often, the over-use of styling and props in an editorial and it doesn't work for our audience. Our brand is all about timelessness and ultimately the vast majority of styling 'props' simply date an editorial and make it trend-driven. Not something we look for. We used to see engagement picnics with vintage typewriters in fields. The question we ask? Who on earth are they typing a letter to?! It's not appropriate in this setting or situation. We see editorials with 'brides' holding golden sprayed pineapples in the middle of a mountain setting. The question we ask? Why?! It's props for the sake of props and has no meaning. Less is more when it comes to styling and don't forget to use your talents as a photographer/florist/stylist to get a wide range of images to ensure the the editorial has depth and variety.
DEPTH OF FIELD
In terms of photography, we see lots of editorials that are shot from a similar stand point meaning the subject is always the same distance from the camera. This doesn't lend itself well to variety of images for the reader and once we've seen one image of the 'bride' at this position, we don't need to see the rest. Don't underestimate the use of space either. Space can be so emotive in an image and we love to see a great use of space. We also love to see out of focus shots, macro shots, emotive shots and details such as movement, make up details (Editor Sara has a thing for lips!) and the classic back of head shot (this does great on Instagram and Pinterest!).
OUR KEY BRAND WORDS
Before submitting to any publication, you need to research what their brand is all about. Wedding Sparrow is all about light, natural, muted, organic, authentic and quality work. If you send us dark, bright, heavily saturated, over styled editorials, it's a straightforward 'no' from us due to the lack of brand consistency we would offer our audience.
It's the easiest thing in the world to say 'just be original!' when actually it can be very difficult for some. We are all heavily inspired by what we see online and on social media and we often see original editorials in the industry replicated. So how do we create without replicating? We need to regularly exercise our 'creativity' muscle. What starts as a kernel of an idea should then be inspired by your personal experience, mood, personality and even the season. When we start with a simple idea (a moment in time, an emotion, a location), it needs to be fleshed out and the only way it will remain original is simply if we put a piece of ourselves into it. For example, if we use a simple olive tree as the starting point of our idea, the end result should differ depending on what day of the week it is, what mood we're in, what season it is and lots of other external factors. It could take us to hot climates, spice driven color palettes, dark skinned models if we think of olive oil and the effect it has on light, sheen and luminessence. Or it could take us to a dry arid desert, with black burnt trees, epic movement shots in a dress with yards of material if we think of the shape of the tree itself and how it bends. Flexing this 'muscle' takes practice and we should all be doing it often as creatives. Don't create that moodboard without thinking of your 'why' - the reason you're creating this editorial.
We'd love to hear your take on styled shoots in the industry and if we see too much replication. How do you keep pushing yourself to be original in a saturated market?