What is a branding photoshoot?
Bear with me while I state what might seem obvious: a branding photoshoot is a photoshoot that focuses on your brand. The definition may seem straightforward, but successful execution requires forethought and skill. If you want to be successful with the time and money you invest in your photoshoot, here are some things to consider:
What message do you want to convey?
Pour yourself a cup of coffee, get out your journal, and reflect. Remember when you wrote down what your company stands for and how you want your clients to feel when they experience your brand? Write all those adjectives down again. For example:
My brand is … joyful, colorful, fun, modern, vibrant, authentic, warm.
Your list of words to describe your brand will also describe the words your photos should convey to anyone who views them.When your clients look at your website and your social media content, do the photos reflect the words with which you described your brand? Using the example above, is your Instagram feed joyful? Is it colorful? Is it vibrant?
The purpose of your photos is to bring your brand to life, visually. Your photos speak for you. Your photos give your potential clients an idea of who they can be working with in the future. Your photos are doing all this heavy lifting whether or not you realize it. Are your photos helping or prohibiting the message you want to convey? Are your clothes telling the accurate story of your business and brand?
How are branding photoshoots different from portrait photoshoots?
Portrait photos exist to preserve memories. A good portrait photographer can capture your personality and freeze a moment in time for future reflection.
Branding photos exist to sell your brand. Through strategic locations, poses, and wardrobe choices, your images should convey your company’s values and purpose while also showing off your “power suit.” (Think of your power suit as, literally, the suit that makes you feel most powerful. Your power suit may be a graphic tee and blazer, a floral sheath dress, or a tailored pantsuit.)
In preparation for a portrait photoshoot, you choose a photographer and confirm dates and location. Maybe a week before the shoot, you brainstorm wardrobe choices. Maybe you scroll through Pinterest or Instagram for inspiration. You try to figure out what to do with your hair and cross your fingers that it cooperates the day of the shoot.
In branding photoshoots, you do all of the above and then some. Branding photoshoots typically require more help in order to create the truly aspirational and invitational end-product photos you’re going for. Following is a list of some of the people you’ll want by your side the day of your shoot.
- Photographer - Your photographer should be very clear on your vision. Your photographer will use his or her expertise to help you decide your location and poses as well as the types of photos you’ll need for your business (cover banners, profile shots, etc.). Communication is key in order to make this experience a truly collaborative one. Your photographer should be just as invested in conveying your brand to its fullest as you are. Bring your vision to the table and then let your photographer do her creative magic and produce money making shots.
- Personal Stylist - The personal stylist (this is where I come in) helps align your brand message and personal style into magical storytelling ensembles that speak to who you are, who you serve, your personality, and your professionalism. Let your stylist know the date of your photoshoot, the amount of time booked, and location. Your stylist will take all this information and your brand vision to synthesize an appropriate number and variety of outfits that will make you feel confident, comfortable, and alleviate any stress or anxiety you may be feeling. (The last thing you want is a late-night trip to Target before your photoshoot, grabbing items off the racks at random, hoping it’ll all be good.) Your stylist will have analyzed your best colors, the best fits and cuts for your body type, and your quintessential personal style. In short, your stylist will make your photoshoot styling effortless and stress-free.
- Cosmetologist - If you’re not super confident in your makeup-application skills, don’t worry; you’re not the only one! If it’s not currently in your budget to hire a professional makeup artist and/or hair stylist, reach out to friends and family for help. Your photoshoot will involve close-ups and profile shots, and you want you to look on point!
- Personal Support - You’ll want an extra person with you the day of your photoshoot--maybe your mom, your best friend, your niece, or your intern. Your personal photoshoot support person has the extra hands to hold anything if needed, help with switching out props, help with your outfit changes, and record video/image content during your shoot (behind-the-scenes content is wonderful for your social media accounts).
Time & Preparation -
With portrait photoshoots, depending on the photographer hired, you may have anywhere from two weeks to a month to prepare between booking and doing the thing. Like we talked about before, the prep for this kind of photoshoot is fairly straightforward: you choose a photographer, a location, and then your outfit(s).
In branding photoshoots, you do all of the above. However, it’s important to keep in mind that most photographers who specialize in branding are booked three months or more in advance. If you envision a tulip magnolia (a March bloom) backdrop for your photos, the time to book your photographer is December or January. The plus side of all this far-sightedness is that it gives you plenty of time to find your dream team for your big day! Also, you may want to rent an office space or Airbnb in line with your brand, and this will give you time to book your location in advance as well. You’ll also have time to plan with your stylist and photographer ahead of the shoot, consulting on wardrobe, props, and poses--making your vision come to life. In short, your time between booking and getting photographed is not idle; expect lots of email and phone planning, Pinterest research, and maybe more coffee and journaling.
For portrait photoshoots, you typically wear clothes from your closet--the favorite casual ensemble that feels like a second skin.
Wardrobe choices for your branding photoshoot take a more considerable and intentional amount of deliberation. You want to find the right combination of outfits you typically wear, but elevated (maybe even dramatized). Let’s be honest, a woman entrepreneur may spend much of her working day in leggings, an oversized hoodie, and fuzzy socks (yes,I’m talking about myself). But, when you’re with clients or presenting your image to clients, the ratty anime hoodie is not going to cut it. When selecting outfits for your photoshoot, you are choosing the image of your brand. Don’t look to influencers for inspiration. Don’t mimic what’s trending on your Instagram home feed. Look deep, take all the work you’ve done so far, and remember you have your own unique style and your own unique brand. (Fuzzy on how to translate your uniqueness into photoshoot outfits? That’s where I come in.) Let your clothes do the talking!
The 4 Reasons You Need to Schedule a Photoshoot...like today.
Serena, do I really need a photoshoot?
- If you are present on social media and blogs - YES!
- If you send out email newsletters and pay for advertisements - YES!
- If your current photos are blurry, or 5+ years old, or you’re wearing clothes that don’t reflect the space you and your company are in right now - YES!
- If you have a landing page or website potential customers are directed to, but you’re not seeing conversion happening - YES!
Branding photos are how you post quality photos to any digital platform you’re using. Branding photos communicate your brand message and create a consistent feeling to your audience. Your branding photos are a tool to encourage your audience to take action. Your branding photos help translate your purpose and vision; they help your audience like, know, and trust you more. Branding photos are what elevates your brand and lets the world know: I’m here! I know that you’re a business woman ready to change the world, but you can let the world know with your photos. A picture says a lot, as do the clothes you’re wearing in the picture; let them do the talking!
Let’s keep talking
I would love to hear from you. I want you to imagine we’re having a virtual coffee date. Let’s talk business, branding, and fashion. What questions do you have for me?