I love randomly quoting movies and I think we can all agree that the Brad Pitt “What’s in the box?!” from Seven is one of the best ones. It’s such a versatile reference! I’ll admit, I even use it on Christmas and birthdays, yup I’m a dork.
But that’s not what we’re here to chat about today. This one’s for all my weekend warrior homies, the wedding photographers. (There are some pretty awesome tips for brides in here too but for more specific bridal detail advice, head over to THIS post!)
Ok photogs, grab a seat, grab your drink (coffee or…wine perhaps?) and let’s have a chat. Real talk here. We’ve all seen the images on pinterest(and let’s be real, other photographer’s blogs and posts…that comparison game gets strong). Perfectly curated getting ready details, the spool of fabric, antique scissors that seem to have a purpose in the photo and perfectly crafted wedding invitations. But how many times do we actually have a wedding with a 6 or 7 piece invitation suite? I’ll start this honesty train, for me it’s probably in the 25% range and more often the invitation suite is 2-3 pieces and sometimes it’s the one off of mom’s fridge grabbed at the last minute. Either way, it’s an important detail of the wedding day and deserves it’s moment too.
I start each wedding day gathering the bride’s details and sometimes some groom details as well depending on getting ready locations. I’ll typically leave my second shooter with the ladies so she can grab any candid moments and then I find a quiet corner to capture those little details. For me it’s the perfect moment to really get a feel for the day and get into a groove. In the past I have just worked with whatever they had for me but over the years I have started bringing my own additions for these photos and now I have a super awesome styling kit that I’ve put together.
So why have a styling kit? Isn’t that kind of like…cheating, bringing in things that aren’t really a part of their day? Sure, I’m making additions to the details but only to enhance and showcase them better. For me it’s all about adding little touches here and there in these detail photos to take them to the next level. These photos are also GREAT to send out to the other vendors. And when you take the images of their products to the next level, they’re more likely to refer you in the future and feature you on their own social media. Total networking win!
But really, what’s in the box?! I have fabric strips in many colors (primarily neutrals in lighter colors), antique scissors, fake succulents, lace, pearl strings, a few wooden spools, clips and cardstock as well as envelopes in varying colors. I also have larger pieces of sequin fabric, tulle and neutral light fabric for backgrounds. OH and I always mean to bring a big piece of foam board with me that I have, but I always seem to forget it. Whoopsies.
I know what you’re thinking…putting together a styling kit sounds really expensive. Here’s my tip. Go to Hobby Lobby, find the things you want to add to your kit and watch for them to go on the 50% sale. (Every two or three weeks is the cycle I have caught on to with things at Hobby Lobby) You can also check out Joann’s and Michaels for things. My wooden spools, I think I paid 2$ for a set of 4 and have stained a few of them with extra stain we had at home from a different project. For my fabric strips I actually went to SR Harris in the cities and spent a few hours sorting through their fabric warehouse. You only need 1/2 yard of each color so if you shop carefully it is super inexpensive! Have thrift stores in your town? Or maybe antique stores? Take a morning, call up your bestie and go peruse and see what gems you can find. Sometimes you’ll find old vintage ring boxes at the antique store for quite the steal of a price. Another place to find things oddly enough is Amazon. My little scissors that I have are ones that I found right on Amazon for $7!
I always ask for extra sprigs from the florist and remind my brides of this prior to the wedding day. Another thing that helps is to make friends with the local florists. This is super easy if you are in a smaller town and only have a few, but more of a challenge when you live in a large area. Not only is this great networking but when they know that you are shooting the wedding they will know exactly what you are looking for and be able to provide extra springs without fail.
There are also companies online that you can purchase items through, personally I don’t mind spending a little extra time finding unique pieces to add to my kit, and also honestly saving a buck or two on it as well. My FULL kit cost less than $100. I started building this specific kit a year ago and let me give you a few of my mistakes that I made as well.
Mistake #1: I bought TOO much fabric with each color. Remember I said you can get away with 1/2 of each color, you could probably honestly get away with 1/4 of a yard. When I started I was buying a yard of each. Definite overkill.
Mistake #2: Speaking of fabric, be careful of the colors you are purchasing. I found that my bolder colors, darker jewel tones etc, while they seemed like a good idea, I find that they distract in the images rather than enhance. Occasionally I find myself adding one of them for a specific idea but that’s not very often.
Mistake #3: Feeling intimidated or defeated right away. I see other photographer’s blogs and posts on social media and I get such detail envy sometimes. But you can’t feel intimidated or compare yourself. Every wedding is unique and every couple spent the same time curating the details and plans for their big day. So whether it’s a simple photo card with an envelope or an 8 piece invitation suite complete with tissue paper, give them the same time and care.
I hope this was useful! And I’d love to hear from you if you have any questions about my styling kit!!