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!
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.
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!