Style Your Way to Your Ideal Client! As Told by Shelly Taylor Photography

Styled shoots are Shelly Taylor’s bread and butter. She knows how to create shoots that showcase her creativity and breadth of work, in addition to increasing her ideal client bookings. Shelly’s expertise in styled shoots combined with her knowledge of getting published through Two Bright Lights has gained her 102 features in 2015 alone.

Whether you’re a styled shoot expert like Shelly, or a photographer just starting out, Shelly Taylor Photography’s tips for submission success are a must read!

Why do you want to be published? How has getting published helped grow your business? “For me, getting published is a big marketing tool. It also goes hand in hand with my passion for styled shoots. Styled shoots allow for quality control and they also let me shoot for myself and shoot what styles I like to see and showcase. They allow for creativity without limitation. So on the marketing side, getting published is a way to showcase what I like to shoot to potential clients. I hear from many fellow wedding pros that you can increase your bookings from what you showcase and have published and I have booked based solely on a styled shoots several times. If I show a lot of really pretty and high-quality details, I will book weddings of the same caliber.

Overall, I enjoy it as a personal goal and competition against myself. I believe it adds a great deal of legitimacy to have my work accepted by peers and publishers. My images are better, and my wedding galleries are more well rounded when I shoot with the intention of submitting for publication. As an added bonus, my brides love seeing their beautiful weddings published!”

Photography by Shelly Taylor Photography

How do you go about crafting a submission? What are some of the things you focus on when you are putting together an album and creating a submission? During styled shoots, I’m shooting for publication. Then when I’m creating a submission, I think back to the types of images that I’ve seen in the publications that I love. Being sure to include those types of images is crucial for a submission’s success. I also try to find a good balance of images I want to include. My goal is to show the entire story of the shoot or wedding but also include the most gorgeous detail shots.

Another important process is to review past albums that have been published. I like to go back to that album to see what pictures the publication featured and which pictures they didn’t. It helps me understand how to choose the images I include in future submissions.”

Do you use any tricks when shooting a wedding to make sure that you get all of those shots that you’re going to want later on when creating a submission? The steps I follow when photographing depend on who I’m working with. If I’m working with other professionals who want to get published and are shooting for publication, I know that they are also looking to get the shots that I want to get. So that can make a difference in my workflow during the day.

If I’m not in that type of setting, I can rely on my assistants to make sure I get the shots I want to get. I don’t carry around a list of desired shots per se, but I do try to shoot one scene at a time during styled shoots. And I always try to shoot the big picture first and then the details later. Then I’ll try to shoot details before the models. That’s just what works for me but I don’t always have that luxury so I have to be flexible.”

Photography by Shelly Taylor Photography

What’s something that you recommend to first-time submitters? Is there one thing, in particular, that they need to include in a submission? For a submission of a styled shoot, I’d say that you need to include at least one image of the bride/model with the reception table. But I always include a mix of images featuring the model and without. It’s important to include as many choices of images as you can for a potential editor.”  

How has social media played a role in your business? “I just do it. Social media is a necessary component in my marketing strategy and should be for other wedding pros as well. And it’s free! So my advice is to just do it. Yes, coming up with posts and captions can be time-consuming but it’s free marketing.

Try to make social media a part of your daily routine. For example, as I’m editing I like to pick out pictures to use on social media when I’m ready to post. But I take it in stride. I will schedule some posts but I don’t do it too far out.”  

Photography by Shelly Taylor Photography

So let’s backtrack a little bit…how did you get started as a photographer?I started photography as a hobby taking pictures of my little girls. After a while, my husband convinced me to start a photography business. But I basically just wanted to pay for my camera, at the time. After I finished my first wedding, I was all in and was knew this was what I wanted to do. Luckily, I was able to get my next wedding fairly quickly allowing me to move into my favorite category of photography for a career.”

What’s something that you’ve learned when you first started out? Was there a big moment in which you learned a lesson or something that you wish you hadn’t done that you’d like to share with new photographers? “I would say investing in education is one thing that I’ve found to be really important. Furthering my education has helped me grow my photography style and business, as a whole. It’s also an opportunity to specialize your photography skills even further.

I’d also say that creating business best practices and processes was an important thing for me to learn. Getting and staying organized definitely makes the day to day of owning a business much easier. I’ve also learned that there are times in which you’ll need to make changes to those practices, and that is okay. It can be unsettling at first, but now I try to look more positively on change.”

Photography by Shelly Taylor Photography

What inspires you? Why do you shoot weddings? What’s your favorite part about shooting weddings? “Honestly, I love it all! But if I had to choose one thing, I love styled shoots the most. Styled shoots allow me to be more creative and take a little more time when shooting. But for weddings, there is a more personal connection and element. When shooting an actual wedding you are an important part of a couple’s day. You’re shooting to capture memories that they will have for years and show to their future children. But I really do love all aspects of wedding photography. I love the unexpected angle, the endless possibilities of creativity, and the giant world of all the things I want to learn about photography.”

Only 40% of wedding professionals get published – join them in becoming a submissions rockstar! Two Bright Lights makes it fast and easy to get published and costs less than $15/month. In just three quick steps, you can submit your work to more than 400 magazines, blogs and websites, including The Knot, POPSUGAR, Brit + Co, MunaLuchi Bride, Every Last Detail and more. So what are you waiting for? Sign-up today at

Photos courtesy of Shelly Taylor Photography.

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