Q&A: Tamara Menges on Photo Shoot Styling Like the Pros

Tamara Menges Stylized Photoshoot ~ Photo: Archetype Studios
Photo: Archetype Studio

Such a treat to have brilliant photo stylist and event designer Tamara Menges on the blog today! Menges, by her own account, sees “beauty in everything, whether it be a piece of fabric or a particular chair, or a rusty old can.” And we can’t help but see beauty in her. We asked her to reveal the methods behind her magic—and explain why professional styling is a MUST if you’re aiming for an unforgettable bridal, engagement or boudoir shoot!

Houston Wedding Blog: What, exactly, does professional photo styling entail?

Tamara Menges: Professional styling is a unique approach to a photography session. It’s basically the use of props to tell a story that is then captured by the photographer. To me, it’s imperative that I convey an actual “story,” and I use that word A LOT when I’m designing and conceptualizing a project. It has to make sense, obviously, but it also has to speak to the client.

HWB: How do you figure out a couple’s “story”—what do you need to know about them?

TM: I ask a lot of questions: what they do for fun, how they met, where he popped the question, etc. Their styling should reflect who they are as a couple, and it should be yet another part of the story that is being told through the photography. I work one-on-one with them, then, after the consultation, I brainstorm with my team, put an inspiration board together and submit those ideas to the couple or bride. Of course, some like to be surprised!

Tamara Menges Stylized Photoshoot ~ Photos: Callie & Co. Photography
Tamara Menges Stylized Photoshoot ~ Photos: Callie & Co. Photography
Photos: Callie & Co. Photography

HWB: Tell us about a couple of your favorite recent shoots.

TM:  My absolute favorite engagement session was with a couple who are both very strong Christians and wanted to use their Bibles in some of their images. For them, I designed an entire setting based around their faith. I found an old church pew from the 1800s, I made multiple burlap pillows with their favorite lines of scripture, a large cross out of re-claimed fence posts, and a pitcher and bowl to symbolize washing of the feet, along with many other elements that tied into their beliefs. I named this shoot “A Faithful Engagement.” It turned out perfectly!

Another favorite was really outside the box. It was a gothic shoot that we titled “’Til Death Do Us Part.” My inspiration was crows. I knew I wanted it to be unexpected. I kept the color palette clean, with black, white and gold—red and dark purple were too expected! Perfectly enough, Natalie Harris Bridal and Evening had a design of a white gown with images of trees on the fabric! I went for an elegant gothic approach, not a scary one.

Tamara Menges Stylized Photoshoot ~ Photos: Sarah e. Evans Photography
Photo: Sarah e. Evans Photography

HWB: Sounds gorgeous! OK, so how much can we expect to pay for your services—and why are they worth the investment?

TM: Given the amount of research, thought, and hands-on work that I put into each shoot, my pricing starts $300. [HWB ed note: bargain alert!] This includes the above, along with props needed to complete the concept. Photo styling is a good investment simply because it expresses and captures their personality and story in a unique way. Most people don’t realize how much thought is put into a styled shoot, but that is why they turn out so interesting. I have a bit of an outside-the-box approach to styling shoots, so I often push my clients a little further than what may seem typical, and the end results are images that they are excited about for years to come!

For more pix from Tamara Menges Designs’ “A Faithful Engagement” shoot, click here! To get in touch with Tamara herself, find her here!

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