12 Steps to Prepare for Your Brand Photo Shoot
Oh man, I'm sure you're thinking 12 steps to prepare for my brand photo shoot?? That sounds overwhelming! 😐 Let me assure you it's less intimidating than it seems. I'm a brand photographer and go through all these steps with my clients! I just don't tell them there are 12 steps to not scare them off 😉
And you are probably reading this post because you have a brand photo shoot coming up or you are thinking about booking one. You have lots to plan and get done in your biz so let's cut to the chase & dive into the 12 steps shall we?
And to make this blog post even more fun, I'm going to share little sneak peaks of my planning process to create my own brand visuals 😄
1. Research photographers
When you start thinking about booking a photo shoot for your business research the different photographers in your area, maybe there is a photographer who specializes in brand photography to help coordinate the shoot details and is familiar with styling, prop sourcing, location scouting, etc.
When inquiring make sure to ask what dates the photographer has available and when then images will be retouched and delivered. This is important if you need the photos by a certain date.
So for me, all the photos on my website and Instagram without me in them I take myself 😊 But I do need a hand when I want to be in a shot. I've been working with a couple friends and photographers to take my photo. I still plan how I want the shot to look, my outfit, posing, how I'll edit it, but using a tripod is a pain in the butt! And it's way more fun to work with a friend for the day taking photos of each other.🤗
2. Do your brand research
Before you start diving into the fun planning process you must define your brand direction. I help clients do this with my brand questionnaire. It includes 19 in-depth questions that help a business owner figure out the specific details of their brand they may not have considered before.
It covers topics like which colours and visual elements represent their brand, key words that describe their style and mood and to describe their target audience. If you are interested you can download my brand questionnaire here!
My favourite two questions I love asking business owners are how you are different from other businesses in your industry? And what brands inspire your style?
A big belief of mine is to be inspired but never directly copy! No two brands are alike, and I aim to show that through the visuals.
In the case of my brand, other people that offer similar services to me are Ale Vidal, Lish Creative, Studio Bicyclette, and Jennavieve Films. All these ladies are soooo inspiring and amazingly talented! Sometimes it's hard to not get discouraged at how incredible other creators are, but I choose to let it inspire me and focus on what makes me different.
Brands that inspire my style are Anthropologie, Luxy Hair, Ohh Couture and LaurDIY (ugh so obsessed with their Instagram feeds below😍). I draw inspiration from fashion and beauty brands as well as from bloggers and Youtubers.
I look to other photographers and videographers to learn from their techniques but I get my style inspiration from completely different brands. That ensures I'm never copying someone but I'm defining my own unique brand style.
3. Collect lots of visuals
So after a client writes out all the key elements of their brand direction, it should be pretty clear how we will design their brand photo shoot. When I hear the words fresh, feminine, playful, vibrant (these are actually my brand words) I want to make sure the client and I are on the same page. So the next step is to collect lots of visuals to bring those words to life!
I create a secret board on Pinterest that the client and I can both add photos to. We pin a variety of images that showcase the theme, mood, key words, style, subject matter, editing style etc. We also make sure the photos are reflective of the colour palette.
It's hard to tell a brand's aesthetic from just one or two photos, so I like to have 10-20 photos that are all a little bit different but flow together. Then the brand's aesthetic becomes very clear!
Below is a screenshot of my Pinterest board I created for my brand direction. (I have a lot more photos saved but I'll just share a peak😉
4. Prop source
A brand photo shoot is about showcasing your product or service and the lifestyle that goes with it. These are not plain product photos or headshots, the photos need to tell a story. Props help bring a brand to life!
Since I work with creative entrepreneurs and my style is playful yet feminine, a few props that I like to incorporate into my photos are:
Flowers (I'm obsessed, love a good flower moment)
Matcha (lol I’m obsessed!!)
My camera & laptop (what I use when working and show people I'm a photographer/videographer)
Pressed juice or smoothie (kinda random but I have them often & self care is part of my brand message)
Desserts (something pretty that makes a photo more interesting, also I have a huge sweet tooth!)
Pen & notebook (I'm always journaling for my biz & planning out future goals)
5. Location scout
An interesting and unique location tells more of a story than just a plain studio. It depends on the mood, style and emotions you want to evoke in your customer, because that can be translated through the location of your shoot.
For example, if your brand is edgy & urban a good location would be a graffiti wall. If your brand is fresh and serene, an appropriate location would be a beach.
Location is just another layer of a photo shoot to tie in all the different aspects of a brand.
My favourite locations when I need visuals for my brand are anywhere with flowers (gardens, blossoming trees, field of flowers, etc.) pretty cafe's and restaurants, colourful walls/buildings and ornate architecture.
When I travelled to Europe I was in heaveeeeeeeeen! Everywhere I went was a picturesque location for photos. See for yourself in my London & Ireland blog posts! But I can't complain, Toronto has lots of beautiful locations too.
6. Pull wardrobe, hair & makeup inspo
Something to add to your Pinterest board when planning your brand photo shoot are photos of wardrobe, hair and makeup ideas. It's a good idea to add them to the board to ensure everything is cohesive, and Pinterest is fiiiiiilled with inspiration so you will be able to find lots of ideas.
I personally find it easier to put together an outfit when I have a photo to reference. And I know stylists and makeup artists will better understand the look you are going for when you show them a photo. NEVER just describe it... always show them a photo.
7. Shop for new outfits
Once you have a few ideas of what to wear, you should search through your wardrobe (or a friend's) to see what you already have that fits your brand vision. If you need anything additional, then it's time to go shopping!!
Definitely buy something you would love to wear again. I always look for pieces I can wear in more than one setting. For example I look for dresses that I can wear casually on the weekend or dress up with heels and jewellery to wear our dancing. Or blouses that I think are pretty and feminine to wear on a date but not too revealing so I still could wear them to a networking event.
The key is to buy something versatile that is also on-brand for your business. Need a few more wardrobe tips? Check out my blog post 12 Wardrobe Tips for Your Personal Brand Photo Shoot!
Also side note, I absolutely love when clients send me photos of the outfits they are considering! I can then picture what look would suit each location or even offer styling suggestions. I like to be their confidant, I'm there to reassure you made an awesome choice and to offer advice if requested🤗
8. Book hair and makeup for the photo shoot
Once your photo shoot date and location is set and all the details are planned out, the next step is to find a hair stylist and makeup artist whose work you love and book them for the morning of your shoot.
This is something I handle for my clients so it's less stress for them. It's also included in the price of my packages, which is a nice treat for clients so they feel pampered the day of their shoot!
9. Make a shot list
A step in planning I find essential is to make a list of every shot you and the client (or you and your photographer) plan to capture. This ensures nothing is forgotten during the chaos of the shoot and that everyone is on the same page👌
Examples of different shots are flatlays that are eye-catching for a website banner, images that are off center so there's room for text, shots of your workspace, you working, lifestyle headshots and/or photos of products you’ve made.
10. Beauty Treatments
A few days or a week before your shoot do any beauty treatments you want to look your best (ie. a fresh hair cut and colour, manicure, eyebrow wax, facial, spray tan, etc.)
This is optional of course, everyone has a different beauty regime! If any beauty treatments are part of your routine may as well plan to get them done before your shoot to feel extra fresh and fabulous, am I right?!
I mean, don't experiment with a spray tan for the first time the day before your shoot. You don't want to look like you just came from the Jersey Shore, ya know?😅
I'm all about a cute manicure though!💅 Your hands will most likely be seen in the photos, and your photog will not clean them up when retouching.... make everyone's life easy and just get the mani😝
11. Prep & rest
The night before your photo shoot make sure to get lots of rest, you are going to need lots of energy when shooting (& you want to avoid those dark circles & puffy eyes if you can) This is honestly hard for me because I'm so excited/anxious that I can't fall asleep easily. But hopefully that's not the case for you. Or well there's always coffee😴☕️
Also pack up everything you need and wash your hair the day before. Most stylists like to work with hair that hasn't been freshly washed since it holds the style better.
And before bed prep skin for makeup the next day. Nothing crazy, just stick to the usual cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize, and maybe a face mask if you're feeling extra.
12. Don’t stress!
Giiiiiirl that pimple can be covered with makeup or edited out in photoshop, so please don't stress! And if you've followed all these steps you are MORE than prepared, so I can assure you your shoot will go smoothly.
Also you look HOT, stop worrying about looking chubby in the photos! (this used to be me so I can relate) But your photog will pose you to look great, will shoot good angles and in the most flattering light. There's no need to stress about loosing 10 pounds before your photo shoot, instead focus on loving yourself at every size, age, & milestone.
I hope you found these 12 steps helpful. Know that these photos are documenting your journey (of biz and life!) while showcasing YOU as the face of your brand. If you are making the investment in brand photography, you are investing in yourself! Pat yourself on the back, because that is AMAZING.
I know you are totally going to rock your brand photo shoot, now relax and have fun babe!😘