Most of us aren’t a big fan of being in front of a camera; I know I’m not. But when it comes to upleveling your branding, it’s kinda something you have to do. Stock images are amazing; I use them all the time (see my list of recommended stock image sites here), but there comes a time when you need your own branded images.
Why do I need branded images?
Branded images are going to do a few major things for you. They will:
- Tie your branding together
- Ensure your branding is always on point
- You won’t look like every other brand like yours out there (that are all using the same stock photos)
- Attract your ideal clients (and repel not-so-ideal clients)
- Convey your value
- Show your personality
Your branded photos are your visual voice – it’s a visual representation of you, your style, how it feels to work with you, and how you speak to people. It’s the cherry on top of your visual branding and brand strategy.
I had my first branded photoshoot back in October 2020 because I knew it was time to start seriously marketing my business. I knew that if I wanted to connect easily with my ideal customers and become well-known, I needed to ensure that every aspect of my brand was cohesive, especially because I’m a brand strategist. I couldn’t let being a little camera shy hold me back from reaping all the benefits of a custom-branded library of images.
I won’t tell you that planning a branded photoshoot is easy—there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of—but I will tell you that it is 100% worth it. Now that you’ve added “branded photoshoot” to your to-do list, let me get into the nitty-gritty of how to go about planning your shoot and some top tips I gathered and learned along the way.
How to Plan a Branded Photoshoot
Step 1: Gather Inspiration & Start Planning
Your first step is to do your research so you know exactly which images will best benefit your brand, and ensure you aren’t without a branded image when you need one.
I spent a long time prepping for my shoot, and so it’s best to start thinking about it and noting down ideas you have as early as possible. Create a new Pinterest board and pin images that you’d like to emulate.
On the days/weeks/months leading up to your shoot, keep a note of any ideas for specific shots you’ll find useful. On the day, it’s easy to become swept up in everything that’s going on, so if you have a list of what you need, you can give it to your photographer to keep in mind throughout the day. Some questions to keep in mind to help prompt shot ideas are:
- What’s your personality? Where do you connect most with your ideal client?
- What do you offer? How can you show pieces of that in your images?
- What inside knowledge do you share? Do you have stories and metaphors you return to again and again in your content? Can you display these in your images?
I also kept a note of locations we could use for the shoot. My studio was, of course, going to be a primary location, but I also thought about local places we could use, such as the pub and nearby woodland where I regularly walk my dog, Zorro.
Step 2: Hire Your Photographer
Now you’ve got a good idea of what kinds of images you’re looking for, you can start your search for the right photographer. It’s often tempting to simply go to a talented friend who is good with a camera, but if you can afford it, find someone who has experience or at least knowledge of branded shoots.
I chose to work with the amazing Ami from www.thewomanandthewolf.com – she’s an incredibly talented photographer based in London, and she specialises in helping entrepreneurs find visibility through their imagery. When I looked through her portfolio, her style really clicked with my branding, so I knew she’d be a great fit.
When you talk to them about what you’re looking for, make sure you share your brand, brand stories, and all the “insider” stuff only your most dedicated followers would know. This will help them best do their job and capture all those little moments and shots that will really resonate with your core audience. If you have ideas you aren’t sure how to represent in a visual medium, ask them about it! They’re professionals, so may have some great ideas for how to go about it.
Step 3: Find Your Support
Since the idea of stepping in front of the camera for more than two minutes fills most of us with dread, you’ll likely need a support crew to help you make the most of the day and ensure your personality really shines through in your photos.
One of the steps I took to ensure I felt as confident as possible was to hire Jo from www.hairandmakeupatelier.com, who helped ensure I felt confident and my look was on-brand. She’s recently worked with Melinda Messenger, so I feel very privileged to have had the chance to work with her!
It’s also a good idea to think about if you want anyone else involved. If you have a big budget, you may work with a creative director or even an interior designer to ensure your space is perfect for the shoot. Maybe you need to coordinate having your family available to be in some photos or a fashion-focused friend to help do your styling.
Step 4: Wardrobe & Props
This is one of the most fun and time-consuming steps, but this is one of the places you can ensure your brand shines. I picked out around 6 outfits I could use during the shoot that fit my brand. If you look at the images I use, you’ll see my brand colours in my outfits and props. I prepped each outfit with the right shoes, accessories, and jewellery so everything would tie together perfectly and so that I wouldn’t have to think on my feet on the day.
I also spent a lot of time making sure my studio looked just so and that I had the right artwork, documents, and props for flatlays. Think about what kind of accents you want in your images; do you want pops of colour or more natural elements? Do you want to include fresh flowers?
Also, consider what equipment you may use every day that will be involved in your shoot and make sure you block out time to give it a good clean or dust a day or two before the shoot.
Step 5: Make Shoot Day Fun & Easy
When you’re planning, try to think about how shoot day will go and plan accordingly. If you know you’re going to be nervous and find it difficult to think strategically, make notes and checklists of things you need to make sure you get. Here are some prompts to get you started:
- Headshots (with various coloured backgrounds, smiling with teeth, smiling close-lipped, laughing, contemplative)
- Working shots (at computer, with notebook, inside, outside, at park, on floor, with dog/cat, at easel, styling, with client)
- Family life (with kids/pets/partner)
- Desk shots (clean, with notepad, calendar, iPad)
- General flatlays (ensure you have plenty of whitespace for graphics)
Don’t forget the human element of the day, either, like ensuring you drink enough water and eat lunch. Think about a playlist you might like to listen to as you get ready and shoot. Make sure you block off the entire day for the shoot so you can stay focused. At the end of the day, chill out and celebrate! Go out for dinner or get a takeaway and indulge in a glass of wine or something bubbly; you deserve it!
The result of your branded photoshoot should be images that tell your brand story that visually conveys your personality and gives potential ideal clients that initial intuitive nudge that you’ll be the best fit for them. It’s not always something we want to do, but I promise you it is totally worth it!