How To Prepare For A Branding Photo Shoot
I'm no stranger to photo shoots, having done 5 branding shoots in the past 2 years. I typically like to switch up my images every 6 months to help keep my brand fresh.
I've learned in my experience that high quality images can greatly help to elevate or contribute to the credibility and visibility of your brand. For instance, have you ever scrolled through your Facebook newsfeed and saw an image of someone that really stood out? It could have been the vibrant colours, location, hairstyle, clothing, facial expression - something about that image that made you think wow, I want to experience that too! - and then you clicked on it to learn more about the person and what they do?
In any branding photo shoot, you're ultimately looking to create both a visual and an emotional experience for your audience - this is where being crystal clear on your ideal client, message, and brand becomes crucial.
While some photographers will do most of the work for you in terms of selecting the best locations, providing hair and makeup services, props, etc., I enjoy taking the lead when it comes to planning.
Below are my top tips for planning a branding photo shoot:
- Find a photographer you know, like and trust. Do your research, get on calls or personally meet with 3-5 different photographers before deciding on one. I'm someone who's super awkward in front of a camera so I need a photographer who can provide direction so I'm not just standing there with my arms at my side.
Find someone who you vibe with and feel comfortable with, someone you believe understands your brand and can best capture it. My photographer is actually a past nutrition client of mine who just so happens to run her own photography business and is someone I get along with exceptionally well.
- Present the best version of yourself. When it comes to deciding on a location, the clothing you wear, what you're doing - it's all to tell a story that will resonate and connect with your target market. To effectively accomplish this, you must be confident in your brand message + style, as well as know what your audience desires for themselves.
For example, last September I held a photo shoot at The Opus hotel in Yaletown in Vancouver, B.C. I selected this location because not only do I host day intensives out of this hotel, but the atmosphere and unique decor was the type of luxury I knew would resonate with my target market. It was a funky type of luxury outside of the overdone espresso + Gucci handbag. This photo shoot was me in real life when I'm happy doing what I do best - I presented the best version I knew myself to be at the time.
- Keep it consistent. What story are you out to tell? Don't confuse your audience by using too many locations that don't compliment each other.
The first professional branding shoot I did in November of 2014 was in my home for my nutrition business. I was targeting moms, so the story I wanted to share related to my everyday life at home while maintaining a healthy family. I involved my kids in the shoot and made it fun with green smoothie mustaches and even a shot of me doing yoga while my daughter was eating dirt in the background. It was real, it was authentic, and it was consistent (we shot in the backyard, front of the house and the kitchen).
What you want to avoid is watering down your brand with too many stories that don't intertwine. For instance, shooting at a farmers market by yourself, then in your kitchen with your market finds, then at a restaurant socializing with friends - these compliment each other because they authentically share a story of your day. However, if you shot at the farmers market, then at the beach, then at a coffee shop and on a date with your husband, the missing pieces and lack of connection could confuse your audience in terms of your brand's message and create a disconnection.
- Plan it out. I've gone into photo shoots just winging it, and also properly planning it out. The shoots I planned out, I was happier with and more at ease during the process. The shoots I didn't plan out, I was scattered, uncertain and not entirely happy with the end results.
It's as simple as taking a piece of paper and writing down 3-4 different locations, exactly what you'll be wearing, how your hair and makeup will be done, and the emotional and visual experiences you want captured.
- Just be yourself + rock it. Seriously, don't overthink it going in because it will show through in your pictures. If you're not 'corporate', don't showcase that in your photos because you think that's the only way to look professional. Be yourself, smile and have fun! Think of it as a way to celebrate your success and the strong, confident business woman you are.
With all this being said, you definitely don't need professional pictures to be successful in your business - just like having gorgeous photos doesn't guarantee you'll find financial freedom anytime soon. What it does do though, is show the world that you're not afraid to step it up, be bold, be visible and let your inner healthy, sexy, wealthy woman shine.