I’ve “officially” done 3 branding shoots, and countless product shoots for DbyL. They’ve all been with different photographers, and have all had very different results, and it’s safe to say I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
While each branding shoot has shown a part of who I am in my business, they’ve also been verrrry different, which is a direct representation of where the business was and how I felt about Design by Laney (and myself) at that point in time. Each shoot has also been an ABSOLUTE blast, and I love all of these photographers, who I’ll definitely link below. Watch this content in Video if you prefer!
If you’re preparing for your first branding shoot, or maybe you’ve had one that didn’t go so well, I have compiled all the ins and outs, prep-work, considerations, and questions to ask to make sure you get the absolute most out of your shoot. Trust me, it’s the BEST feeling to get photos back and just know they matched your vision exactly! So let’s get you there…
Don’t worry about what everyone else does. This is you, your company, and your voice. Don’t listen to what anyone else thinks you should do, don’t copy your competition, there are no hard and fast rules to what you need to have in a branding shoot – except, obviously, no nudity or inappropriate stuff (DUH). My favorite shot of myself to this date is just me sitting on the floor painting in my hole-y jeans.
If you’re not clear on who your brand is, then you won’t be able to capture that in photos. Write 10-20 words that describe the feeling you want your company to convey. My first shoot I was just trying to be fashionable and luxurious, and while I still love these photos, my brand eventually evolved into something much more personable and casual.
We talk about this a lot. Check out our video on it if you’re still unclear. But ask yourself what type of brand that person would buy from, and keep that in mind during your planning phase.
This may sound silly, but it’s a super helpful exercise in translating your brand words into visual imagery. Try to find fashion images and headshots that you like, and try to keep your images cohesive.
Choose some poses or setups that show you in action. This may require a fake desk, bringing your computer with you, or way more intense setups, but it’s worth it to have working photos to use when discussing your process!
Of course, this can make all the difference. That being said, I’ve had 3 successful shoots with 3 very different photographers. Choose someone you’re comfortable with, and whose vibe fits your brand’s vibe.
You may have to pay them. You may be able to trade. Either way, this isn’t a time to be stingy – the right branding shoot can be used on marketing materials, in features, on your website, and a million other ways you haven’t even thought of yet. So it’s an expense that’s worth it.
In the same vein, TREAT YO’SELF. I schedule haircuts the morning of my shoots so that I can double-dip a little, and I always pay for makeup or trade for it. The worst thing to do would be spending all this time and money and hating your photos because of lifeless hair. Plus, a LOT of makeup can still come off as very natural in photos, and similarly, NO makeup can come off as…well, a little dead-looking – YIKES.
Listen to your photographer on this one – they’ll give you advice for what looks best on camera. Neutrals are best, but I ignore that sometimes, because neutral is the opposite of my brand. I try to stick with my branding color – hmm can anyone guess what that is? – and plan out outfits for different locations. I also love a good twirly dress, to give some movement to the shots.
This is weirdly helpful. I thought about this giant bank of pretty pictures for my first shoot, but never thought about where they’d actually be used. Luckily, my photographer Jessica is a genius, and suggested we take some of these cool pointing photos with a blank wall, so I could eventually fill them in with useful text, like this! Think about orientation, shape, size, distance, blank space, pose, etc. in the context of where the photos will actually be used to get some direction.
These sessions will go by in a blur. You will black them out. It’s just a fact. Treat it like your wedding and make a shot list – you don’t want to get the photos back and realize you forgot to get one pose that you specifically needed.
It’s just important. Go with early morning or early evening for Golden Hour! Here’s an example of that really sexy Golden Hour Light.
Can’t stress this enough. You’ll get way more photos done if you are fully prepared, and your photographer is fully prepared. Show them your shot list and Pinterest board beforehand, pack your outfits in order of importance, and make sure you have alllll the bells and whistles for each look (belt, shoes, correct bra, hair ties, etc.).
This was the one mistake I’ve made over and over again in shoots and had to muscle my way through despite the awkwardness at first. Especially if you are paying for the shoot, you have a right to give a little direction to ensure you get the shots you want. Hold yourself and your photographer to the shot list, tell them if you want more photos in one location or outfit, and don’t be afraid to tell them if you’re ready to move on either. You are not fully in charge of the photos, but you are in charge of sticking up for yourself.
But, of course, don’t be too bossy! I mentioned one photographer coming up with an awesome idea earlier, and that’s exactly why you hire a professional. As long as you’re sticking up for what you need out of the shoot, let the photographer have creative direction too. If you don’t trust them to create beautiful images, then you need to revisit Tip Number 6 and do that part over. Just like a client should trust you to create something beautiful, you should trust other creatives to see things differently than you do, and you’ll be surprised at the amazing results!
Okay, phew, this has been a lot, but if you follow these 15 tips, we’re sure you’ll be cheesing HARD when you get your album back! Let us know which tip is your favorite – and feel free to share some of your branding shoot photos below!
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I make wedding invitations and I teach artists how to work smarter, make money, and run a business that works for you.