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Are Styled Shoots Worth It? Five Reasons to Attend a Styled Shoot (or Not!)

Styled shoots are a popular way for burgeoning photographers to practice their craft and build their portfolios. These days, it seems like there are dozens of styled shoots for a photographer to join, with prices running the gamut from less than $100 to over $1,000. With that kind of investment, of course you’ll be asking yourself, “Are styled shoots worth it?” Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when you’re choosing whether or not to invest in a styled shoot.

Portfolio Building

Your portfolio is one of the most important components of your business. Attending a styled shoot can help you build a portfolio before you’ve been booked, help you pivot to a new direction, or add a product to your offerings. Many styled shoots are wedding based, but there are a ton of elopement shoots as well. If you want to make the move from extravagant weddings to intimate elopements (or vice versa), styled shoots can be a great way to help transform your portfolio. Or - consider attending a boudoir styled shoot to be able to offer wedding clients a bridal boudoir session!

An important consideration: will the styled shoot you’re thinking of attending have picture-perfect model couples or real couples who look, well, real? Do the set-ups look over-the-top and editorial, or like a real wedding your ideal client would put on?

One type of styled shoot that is becoming rapidly popular are Destination Styled Shoots. These are extremely fun and well worth the price because on top of building your portfolio, you get to explore places you have never been before and make great new friends!

destination styled shoot bride in big sur, california

Our elopement bride, Mary, at our Big Sur Retreat! Photo by Marjorie Therese Photography.

Practice You are allowed to make mistakes and iron out techniques while shooting at a styled shoot. This practice will help feel more confident when you are shooting an actual wedding. Practicing coaching and posing couples is also invaluable as it can feel awkward at first. One of the reasons Wildly Styled Shoots uses more real couples than model couples is so that you can authentically practice coaching!

Another reason why styled shoots are worth it is to be able to get valuable feedback. As you branch out into getting paid weddings or other sessions, you will be able to have improved your skills by receiving constructive criticism. The shoot host or other photographers you meet are usually more than happy to give you any tips and suggestions. Consider if the shoot will be fast-paced or more relaxed with friendly feedback and time for networking.

Creativity & Fun

Of course, not every shoot will be a styled wedding. At Wildly, for example, we’ve done boudoir shoots, elopements, and even a family session! Styled shoot themes can be trendy or timeless - and sometimes, the theme is just too fun to pass up (like our Barbie Boudoir, below)! A fun shoot with fun people can reignite your creativity, or let you try new things!

There are always new techniques and trends coming out and styled shoots are the perfect opportunity to try them out, such as capturing blurry photos or using fractals. Styled shoots are a great way to try something out-of-the-box without pressure. Also, working with a group of photographers will challenge you to find new angles and help you see others’ creative ideas.


An underrated aspect of being a part of a styled shoot is the relationships you will build within the photography community. You will meet other aspiring or current wedding photographers, vendors, and models. These relationships are priceless. Camaraderie is important in this field, which can feel somewhat isolating and “every man for himself.” Not only will you find that the folks you meet will recommend you (and you can return the favor by recommending them), but you’ll have friends in the field to bounce ideas off of or vent to. Being a small business owner is hard and having people in your court is priceless.

Content Creation

In this day and age, social media is an important marketing tool - one that you have to cultivate regularly. Participating in styled shoots will give you a lot of content all at once to post on social media posts and keep your accounts alive and well. You will be able to schedule posts in the future with the amount of content you will have at your fingertips! Look for styled shoots that have a variety of models and set-ups so you can get more "bang for your buck."

Another important consideration - real clients may not want you to post pictures of them, especially if it is a low-key elopement or a boudoir session. A styled shoot will give you plenty of photos to post!

All in all, deciding to be a part of a styled shoot can be daunting and expensive, but the right shoot is definitely worth it! Potential clients will always look at your portfolio to see if your style matches their vision, and a styled shoot is a great way to build your portfolio in a way that reflects your ideal client and shows off your unique eye and talents. The relationships and skills you develop at styled shoots are invaluable in developing your photography into a career that you can be proud of. It will help you book real clients because you will have a portfolio full of examples to show off! If you'd like to join one of Wildly's styled shoots, click here to see what we have coming up!

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