I struggled for years with posting photos of myself for my business and I even tried to take my own branding photos. Nothing felt right and I was unnecessarily stressed out. I bet you (and many of my clients) can relate. 😉
Then, I hired a photographer. #hallelujah
Branding photos are essential if you plan to get your business noticed (and I was looking to get noticed!). If you can only do one thing to improve your brand, it should be professional brand portraits. This blog post will (hopefully) prepare you for your session to get you the amazing photos you’ve been dying for. My goal with it is to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible day of the shoot so that you get the most genuine and authentic photos!
Plan Your Brand Photoshoot
Timing is everything
Just because you know a great photographer who has offered you a deal doesn’t mean it’s the right time. The best time to get professional photography is after a clear branding strategy session. Ensure you have the look, feel and content ready to support your vision. Without the supporting framework, you won’t be able to communicate exactly what you need to your photographer (which means ending up with images that don’t quite fit your brand).
Find the Right Photographer
Finding an experienced photographer – not your cousin who’s great at iPhone photos – will prepare you to have the best experience possible. Scroll through hashtags on Instagram (such as #orlandophotographers and pop in your city) and look for a similar aesthetic to your brand that you’ve outlined during your branding strategy session.
Once you’ve got your photographer, check out their reviews on Facebook and Google. Look for things such as:
- The photographer makes you feel comfortable/not awkward
- The photographer helps pose you
- The photographer has been booked multiple times
I look at these key phrases so that I know I will feel comfortable with the photographer and that I won’t have to worry about posing or anything like that day of the shoot. As well, make sure you have someone who is behind the brand vision and passionate about documenting and creating content that is unique to your brand. You can learn a lot through just communicating them after sending a lead form or just sending them a quick IG message. You want to find someone you connect with so that you can build a relationship – communication is everything!
Set up inspiration board
I like to set up a Pinterest board for each photoshoot to get ideas for posing, props and styling. Share this Pinterest board with your photographer so that they know what you are looking for during your shoot! I will also drop in photos from the locations that we are visiting so that the photographer can get some ideas as well. Keep in mind that the photographer is the expert, so be open to their input and unique perspective.
Just like in real estate, choosing your location matters. Decide if you want a clean studio look, vibrant outdoor areas or perhaps a coffee house setting. Choose spots that are YOU! And check each option out beforehand to ensure you’ll be able to get the photos you like. For example, your favorite coffee house may make for great photos but it won’t work if there happens to be a large crowd on the day you go. With outdoor photos, weather is a factor so choose your primary location but have an alternative in mind, just in case.
Your photographer may also have some ideas for locations – but I still like to have 3-4 locations on deck. Usually my sessions are 2 hours and we spend about 30-45 minutes at each location. Keep in mind that your first photoshoot may take a little bit longer. I’ve luckily been able to have some photoshoots in my pocket, so we can get in and out quickly because I know exactly what I need.
My photographer, Christine Wozz, mentions this about location scouting:
If you brand mission and goal for your look is clean and muted pure whites (like yours) you don’t want to shoot at locations with lots of brick and greenery! You want clean neutral colors whites and tans. This will help your edits! More is less the focus needs to be on your and your mission statement so make sure to not use distracting backgrounds.
Be open to communicating your location ideas with your photographer so they can not only think about the best lighting but make sure your location matches what you are wanting to achieve with your brand.
NOTE! Make sure to see that the locations you are looking for are open. Or you’ll be like me and get to a location that is closed on a Monday… Still mad at myself about that!
Scheduling Note: I like to schedule my shoots early in the week to avoid crowds. It’s quieter and I find that we are not as much as a disturbance.
Etiquette note! I ALWAYS go up to the counter when I order my coffees and talk to the barista or owner to make sure they are ok with us being there. Just letting them be aware that you’ll have a photographer and try to be as discreet as possible is a nice gesture. I also like to leave a higher tip when I order the coffee.
Your Outfits May Make or Break Your Photoshoot
I’ve found that the more comfortable I am with what I am wearing, the better the photos come out.
Choose from a pre-determined color palette that compliments your location – and most importantly your brand colors. An outdoor shoot in a vibrant summer dress won’t sit well on your website if you utilize muted colors. And always take a couple of backup options – this is useful when you realize an outfit doesn’t match as well as you thought in person. It’s also useful if your photographer works faster than you thought and you end up with leftover time – don’t take more photos in clothes you’ve already worn – mix it up and maximize your session! As well, consider the seasons. If you’re planning to use these photos throughout the weather changes then consider choosing outfits that don’t look like they go with any specific season.
Plan Out Your Props
Here’s a quick list for the props that I like to bring with me. With Be Bold Design Studio, it’s important for me to have some flatlay options and more working photos so keep in mind your industry for the appropriate props.
- Magazine (Fashion blogger? Pick some fashion magazines. Creative? There are a ton of beautifully designed creative/entrepreneur magazines available at Barnes & Noble.)
- Regular Glasses (In real life, I’m always wearing my glasses so I’ll pop these on. It’s me, it’s authentic and I encourage you to not be afraid to be yourself!)
- Cardigans + Jackets (These add variety to your photos! I’ll start a session at a location with one cardigan, take it off for some photos and may add another cardigan again for variety so it isn’t super obvious I am using the same photos for several weeks)
- Confetti (a fun way to celebrate a launch!)
- Toothbrush + toothpaste (I am usually drinking coffee during the sessions and like to brush my teeth in between each location!)
That’s a rough list, but you get the idea! Bring variety and change it up during the shoot. I found that having more props give me variety with my photography and something to hold on/do during the photoshoot. Check out my brand photoshoot day of checklist at the end of this blog to for my free printable!
This may get a little Type A, but it helps me feel as calm and confident going into the photoshoot. You don’t want to show up to the shoot and then just be standing there unsure of what to do, so having an idea of what you need helps prevent. Often, I’ll write down a quick list of shots that I need and if during the shoot I have trouble thinking of what to next, I’ll check that list. Often it includes flat lays, me using my phone or computer, etc.
After the Brand Photoshoot
It takes about 2-3 weeks to get your photos back. I have so much respect for photographers because oftentimes they spend hours during the editing process. Their job is just beginning during the photoshoot! Plan the photoshoot far enough ahead of when you need the photos to allow for the editing process.
Slowly Release Your Photos
This relates to Instagram. Slowly release these photos and make your purchase last – mix them up so that you are not posting photos of you in the same place and same outfit. You don’t need to share these new photos with your audience all at once. I recommend using a scheduling tool, to plan the overall aesthetic of your feed and make sure no outfits look are too overdone. Also, remember, don’t just post photos of yourself. Share your work, fun quotes, real life happenings, and other content to mix things up!
I’ve got a day of photoshoot checklist that you can print and fill out for your photoshoot. These are the things I like to have in my bags to ensure a successful session!
With the right prep, your brand photoshoot will help elevate your brand and free you up to focus on growing your business. If you need help with your brand strategy, reach out to me!