Our friend Fred has an adorable 1965 Morris Mini Minor. It is the perfect vintage car for a floral photoshoot. We had been talking about doing it for literally years. We finally made it happen earlier this summer.
Photoshoots are a great opportunity for promotion, creative challenge, professional networking and content creation. When we were a young business and hustling for work, we accepted any and all invitations to get some exposure (see what I did there). Usually a publication or a photographer initiates the shoot and we are invited to provide the flowers. The organizer defines the concept and sets the requirements. Designing for those shoots are pretty much like any other job, but they are usually more interesting and creative, we don’t get paid and we stick around for the event. They are always fun and exciting, but the business benefit usually isn’t related to the resulting product.
The Byproduct of Photoshoots
It is definitely cool to see your flowers in a magazine or posted online by an influencer. But, really, no matter how good the shoot turned out, we rarely got any direct return. Notable press did provide some legitimacy for us, especially when we didn’t have many reviews, likes or followers. But we had to do the chest thumping. Usually our name was in tiny italics in the caption of a photo or in the credits at the end of the piece. The real value came from the relationships we made through the shoot.
Photoshoots can be an intense experience. There is a lot of effort, preparation, and expense. They can take hours, and there can be drama. Each partner has a stake in the event and we all work as a team to make the shoot successful. It is an opportunity to build trust and collegiality. Today, many of the vendors I repeatedly partner with, recommend, and receive referrals from came as a result of working a photoshoot.
Photoshoots on our Terms
As an established business, we only do photoshoots now that we organize. We invite trusted business partners to participate and we coordinate all the details. Our objectives for a shoot has also changed. We are more interested in creating content to share and having fun rather than getting into some other creator’s feed. (Of course if Martha comes calling, we’re in!)
Another benefit of running our own photoshoots is getting our true fans involved. We try to develop new and interesting opportunities for loyal customers who can’t get enough of our services. If we control the shoot, we can create a unique participatory experience for some special customers. Talk about a vicarious florist.
The photoshoot with the Mini was the first we did with this blog in mind. It was a blast. Fred loves to show off his car and was very generous with his time. Our photographer friend Naomi of Urban Row Photography took beautiful pictures. She brought her kids who were more cute than contributors. Chris, one of our true fans, was able to join us between work meetings. Sophie, my goddaughter, assisted me and Jess as lead designers. When farmer Maya of Hillen Homestead made a delivery in her own vintage Datsun pickup, the shoot was lit.
We got started by planning on Pintrest, of course. Jess and I created a board of inspiration pins and shared those with Naomi and Fred. We then mapped out where the car would be for pictures. Naomi advised us on the best location for lighting. We knew chicken wire tubes would be our primary mechanic but the final installation would be a game time decision. We were set with flowers and foliage: we had some left over from two weddings and a farmer gave us a deal on sunflowers due to high inventory.
The key to an installation like this is volume. We anchored the cascade to the floor and trunk of the car with buckets and small bulb crates. The tubes extended from the crates to the floor. We stuffed them with forsythia and bupleurum. Then we ornamented the foliage with sunflowers, rudbeckia and roses. No water. The entire shoot was three hours. We dried everything we could after the shoot and the rest went to compost.
Naomi’s professional pictures turned out great (see more samples for yourself). We also took some (amateur) video. Add in this blog post – its all grist for the mill.
Naomi called me up a few weeks after the Mini shoot to invite me for coffee. She had an idea for our next project: pet photoshoot. Flowers, dogs, cats, rabbits, reptiles, paying customers. Scheduled for October. Can’t wait!