Having professional photos is one of the key elements of your personal brand. It’s the first thing that people look at when they come across one of your social profiles and within a matter of seconds, they make a judgement on who you are as a person. So, let me ask you this – who would you take more seriously? Someone with a professional headshot or someone with a selfie?
Last October, I had the opportunity to work with Laura from Gooseberry Studios on my first personal brand photoshoot. I’ve always had a photographer take my headshots in the past but I knew it was time for me to make the investment in a full professional photoshoot. Having one headshot is not enough. From interviews, award applications to website photos, the photos from a personal brand shoot come in handy more than once.
But, choosing a photographer is the easy part. The real question is how do you actually prepare for this photoshoot to ensure you achieve your objectives and of course, get your money’s worth?
Here are my three tips for successfully preparing for a personal brand photoshoot:
Create a moodboard
Starting with a moodboard helps you to get all of your thoughts in one place. I had a vision in my head of how I wanted my photos to look but I needed a way to accurately describe it to Laura. After spending time on good ol’ Pinterest, I was able to find photos that highlighted the look I was going for including main colours, locations and types of shots.
The overall mood of my photos needed to be bright, friendly and personable. I wanted my photos to look less like a fashion editorial and more everyday working woman. Lots of smiling and fun shots that showcased my style and personality.
Make a shot list
Although you may think of different shots when you’re “in the moment”, the best way to get the most of your time is to make a list of shots before hand. The shots you choose should best represent you (and your business, if applicable). For my shoot with Laura, I wanted the following shots:
- Close-ups of my accessories
- Action shots of a working woman (on my phone, walking confidently)
- Table shots on my laptop with books
Select all outfits that highlight your brand colour(s) and messages
The outfits you choose to wear in your photos are one of the most important decisions you can make for your shoot. Your outfit is what will communicate who you are, what your brand stands for and the message you want to portray.
Ask yourself two questions before you choose your outfits: What are my brand colours? What brand messages do I want to communicate?
This will be easier to answer if you have a business as you would typically select your outfits in these colours. Since pink is my primary brand colour, I selected a number of outfits with pink. But, I took it a step further – whether it comes to applying for a job or picking an outfit, I inspire my clients, followers and anyone else to make a statement. Statement necklaces have become a part of my brand. I knew that this particular notion of “making a statement” needed to be made clear in my photos so each outfit featured a statement piece. Whether it was my heels, accessories or pairing a bright pink dress with a black blazer, I strategically selected my clothing to highlight one of my most important brand messages.
This still applies regardless of whether you have a business or not – you still have a brand that you need to communicate. Maybe you’re looking to land a new job? I think it’s pretty clear what type of message you would want to communicate in your photos: professionalism and friendliness. In terms of colours, think about the colour that best represents you – do you have a colour that you wear most often or perhaps a colour that you use in your resume? Allow that colour to come through in your photos.
And here’s a tip: make sure you try on every single piece of clothing before your shoot. Ensure that everything fits the way you want, you don’t have any rips and/or missing buttons and if a shirt is a bit sheer, you have something to wear underneath.
Now, that’s my perspective as someone who recently completed a personal brand photoshoot. But, what does a photographer consider to be essential in preparing for a shoot? Here are 5 tips from my photographer, Laura on how to have a fabulous photoshoot:
1) Set clear (and reasonable) objectives for your brand photography shoot.
A professional brand photographer should work extensively with you before any actual shooting takes place in order to establish your visual and marketing objectives.
What are your business’ core values? What colour palettes do you gravitate towards? What style of photo do you prefer? What subject matter do you wish to shoot? What emotion do you wish your business to convey? Do you have an art concept in mind or do you need your photographer to dream up something amazing specifically for your company? These are just a few of the questions that you should have clear answers to before stepping in front of the camera.
At the same time, it is essential to remain reasonable with your photo shoot objectives. Your photographer should be able to assist you in deciding what is and isn’t possible for the scope of your project and budget in a manner that still achieves your overall objectives beautifully.
2) Stay away from trends
Try not to base your brand photography vision on a current trend, because in this digital world trends literally change overnight and what might have looked current one day can suddenly become dated. Instead think outside the box and come up with a concept that will stand the test of time. Brand photography is an investment, something most established businesses invest in every 3-5 years, so be sure to come up with a concept and style that will remain timeless, thus providing your brand with added longevity.
3) Make, don’t mimic
Creating a mood board for your brand photo shoot is a fantastic way to gather and organize your ideas in a visual way. However, be mindful that you only use that secret Pinterest board for inspiration. Replicating exact photos is a huge no-no (yep, I’m talking copyright infringement), plus it doesn’t serve your brand in the long run. Be yourself and let that personality shine through your whole brand.
Strive to put your own twist and flair on your photo session, something that is uniquely you. The goal of any brand photo shoot is to help make your business stand out, not blend in, so dig deep into your creativity and don’t be afraid to try something new. Your photographer should be able to offer fresh, imaginative concepts to assist you in defining your brand in a memorable manner.
4) Be organized
Organization allows you to maximize your shoot time and have fun! This means bring only what you need to the shoot (a lot of excess items create unneeded mess, clutter and chaos). Try to have everything you need for your shoot prepped and ready to go at least 24 hours before the shoot so that you have a whole day to relax.
If you yourself are being photographed, try on your outfits before the shoot to make sure you love them. Consider taking your makeup and hair styles for a test run. Arrive early to your photo shoot location so you have time to chat with your photographer, have a cup of coffee and get the lay of the land.
5) Get a good night’s sleep
Not only does a solid eight hours of sleep combat pesky dark circles under your eyes, but it also allows you to think more clearly, remain energized, keep focus and do your best work. So unplug early and turn in at a reasonable hour the night before your photo shoot.
And of course, have fun with it! Professional brand photography will help to bring your brand to life, so celebrate the experience!