How to Start an Event Planning Business: Stylized Photoshoots 101
Wondering how to start an event planning business in 2021? QC Student Ambassador, Katherine Dionne, is here to help! In addition to being a current QC student, Katie is also the proud owner and Director of Events at Je T’aime Weddings & Events. Connect with her directly by joining the QC Event School Virtual Classroom on Facebook!
Starting an Event Planning Business: The Catch-22
I began my event planning business in February of 2013. Over the last eight years, I’ve learned a lot about the events industry and have been able to build my portfolio significantly.
Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “That’s all fine and good, but what about me? I’m just now getting started. Without experience, how am I supposed to build my portfolio so I can market myself to potential clients?”
I asked myself that exact same question when I started out. After all, it’s a very logical question. It also, admittedly, feels like a bit of a Catch-22. You need experience in order to grow your portfolio… but you need a portfolio in order to build experience. So, what exactly are you supposed to do when you’re brand-new to the game?
The Good News Is…
…you can still build your portfolio without having done any official events yet. The answer is stylized photoshoots! A stylized photoshoot can help you showcase your skills, while also strengthening your networking skills and building your vendor list.
What is a Stylized Photoshoot?
A stylized photoshoot is when a group of vendors come together and build a shoot around a specific theme. They do this by integrating different design elements together. Often, stylized photoshoots will not be compensated in the traditional sense. Rather, everyone will offer their services for free; often in exchange for high-quality images from the shoot as compensation. These images can then be used to build your portfolio!
Another major perk is that stylized shoots provide you with a chance to plan an event on your own terms. You’ll gain real-world experience, network with vendors, and build lasting professional relationships. It doesn’t hurt that you’re also given the chance to put your creativity to the test and build your portfolio at the same time.
Sounds fun, right? Well, as much fun as designing and executing a style shoot absolutely is, it still comes with a lot of work.
Organizing a Stylized Photoshoot
In order for a styled shoot to be successful, you’ll still need to go through almost the entire “planning” process. You should plan a stylized shoot the same way you would any other event. Not only is it going to help you develop your portfolio; the vendors you collaborate with will also see how well you operate as a professional planner.
If you do your job right, they’ll undoubtedly take note of how you organized and managed every last detail. Always make sure that you’re friendly and professional throughout the entire process, because it’ll better your chances of these vendors recommending you to future clients! Who knows, you might end up working with them again in the future.
That in-and-of itself is a huge benefit to planning a styled shoot: work with vendors that you have never met before and potentially increasing your future bookings. If you’re wondering how to start an event planner business, this is the place to start!
Common Vendors You’ll Be Working With
If you’re going to plan a stylized shoot, you’ll be working with all sorts of different vendors. A photographer is obvious, of course. But you’ll also likely be collaborating alongside a:
- Rentals company;
- Stationer for menus and invitations;
- Hair stylist;
- Makeup artist;
- Event decorator;
- Floral designer;
- And more!
These shoots are meant to look exactly how you would design a wedding or event. Not sure where to find these vendors? No problem!
Simply start by doing your market research. I always suggest beginning with Instagram when looking for vendors. This platform offers a perfect way to look at each vendor’s portfolio, which is the easiest way to see if that person’s style will fit your vision.
When you find a vendor you want to work with, send them a direct message and see if they’re interested in participating. Almost all of the vendors will want to know exactly what your vision is and what kind of shoot it will be. So, don’t reach out to them until you have a clear idea in your head – and can describe it effectively.
Remember: you’re asking these people for their time and services. It must be mutually beneficial for them to want to participate.
Creating Your Vision
Start by creating a mood board of the theme and color scheme you want to use in your shoot. I always suggest going onto Pinterest and using photos of inspiration to create your mood board. Once this is created, it’ll be a lot easier for vendors to commit to participating in your shoot.
The next thing is to start choosing your vendors. Like I mentioned above, I suggest utilizing social media to find vendors that have similar styles to what you are envisioning. Once you establish contact, you can send them your mood board so they can get a visual.
This process is no different from planning a real live event, so you should treat it as such. It’ll take time, research, creativity, and logistical know-how to pull off your styled shoot. And just like with a real live event, you’ll be so excited and relieved once everything is set up and you finally see all the beautiful photos for the first time!
How to Start an Event Planning Business: Food for Thought
When I designed my first styled shoot, I was so nervous! I was terrified of messing up. I didn’t want the vendors to think I wasn’t capable of being a great wedding planner. The last thing I wanted was to make a bad impression and make them not want to refer me to potential clients.
Luckily, I had an incredible team of vendors. They were so patient, so kind, and very easy-going. We had the venue for as long as we needed. The photographers took the most beautiful photos and the vision I had in my head came to life perfectly. Looking back, I was probably putting too much pressure on myself. I knew what I was doing and I had the skills to make things happen. The people around me saw it, and it helped me to see it, too.
If you want to know how to start an event planning business, perhaps the best piece of advice I can give you is to believe in yourself. So long as you put in the time, the dedication, and the work, you’re going to set yourself up for many years of success!
If you have any questions, please feel free to connect with me in QC’s Virtual Classroom on Facebook. As always, I am more than happy to help! Good luck!