How to prepare for your personal branding photo shoot

I know it can be a big step to book a personal branding shoot, so well done on making the first step to becoming more visible in your business. It makes such a difference once you have photos of yourself that you are proud to share.

You’re probably now wondering how to prepare for your personal branding shoot!  I know it can seem a little daunting, so I put together this guide to help you prepare, based on my experience of working with many fabulous entrepreneurs.

Please note that every shoot I do is different, because you are unique. This isn’t a cookie-cutter experience, we collaborate together to make the shoot, and therefore the photos, completely bespoke to you.

So please just take the ideas and suggestions from this guide that resonate with you, and don’t worry about the ones that don’t! It’s just to help you prepare as best as you can for the session.

1. Do your brand research

It’s important that you have a clear idea of your brand before you book a personal branding photo shoot, so that we can ensure that your photos are perfectly on brand for you.

I’ll send you a brand questionnaire before the session which will help me learn everything I need to know about your brand and who your dream client is. Then we can work to create images during your shoot that will stand out to this dream client and compel them to want to work with you.

These are the kind of questions I want you to ask yourself before the shoot…

–  What makes you unique in your industry?

–  What do you offer to your clients that no-one else does?

–  What do I want my images to convey about my personality and my brand

–  What do I want the viewer to feel when they look at my photos? Inspired, motivated, calm, happy etc?

–  What brands inspire you?

2. Create a visual mood board

Once I have the answers from your brand questionnaire, I will have a pretty good idea of how you want your personal branding photos to look. You choose a photographer because you like the style of their work, but it still really helps to create a visual mood board before your session.

I love to share a secret Pinterest board with my clients so we can both pin ideas we have for the session. This ensures that we’re both on the same page, and that I know if there is a particular type of shot that you really want.

Rather than just 2 or 3 images, it’s a good idea for us to have at least 20-30 images in a board as that really helps me to see the overall aesthetic that you want to achieve.

These boards then help us to think about suitable locations for your branding shoot and helps you to plan outfits & props too.

3. Prepare a shot list

A great way to prepare for your branding shoot, is to think about where you will be using the images afterwards.

Are there specific places on your website that you need the images for?

Do you want a header for your Facebook page?

Are you looking for 6 months worth of weekly images to use on Instagram?

It really helps me if you can provide me with a list of shots you require as it helps the shoot to flow better and means I can be sure to provide you with the exact images that you need. The more detailed the better!

For example if you need a banner image for your homepage where you will be writing text on the side, please let me know so I can take a wide shot of you with lots of white space for text.

If you need some images of your hands working on a keyboard, or photos of you laughing with a glass of wine in hand, please let me know as they won’t necessarily be shots I will automatically take.

You need to think about aspects of your personality you want to show. If you meditate everyday, you might want to talk about this on social media so it would be a great idea to have some shots of you meditating. If you have a penchant for killer heels, then let’s get some photos of them for you to talk about on social media or your about me page on your website. Anything that you think tells your story and helps you to stand out from the crowd.

 

Here is a guide to how a shot list might look for one of the stories of your shoot. Planning in this much detail in advance means that we get all of the images that you require.

OUTFIT ONE – Jeans and jumper

  1. Headshot for about me page
  2. Banner image with white space for website
  3. Banner image pointing to one side for new online course
  4. Sitting enjoying a coffee with my initialled mug
  5. Working on laptop in garden
  6. Sitting in armchair reading a book
  7. Taking a photo with my phone

4. Plan shoot locations

This is an exciting part…deciding where your session is going to take place!

The beauty of booking a bespoke personal branding photo shoot is that we can select the locations to suit you and your brand perfectly.

Depending on the package you’ve gone for, we may have 1 or 2 shoot locations in Surrey or London agreed.

Once you have done your brand research, you should have a good idea of the kind of location that will help you achieve the perfect images for you.

Here are a few examples of different locations I have used for branding shoots.

 

LOCATION SHOOTS

I love working out on location, and we can work together to think of a location that will work perfectly for you and your brand.

This personal branding photo shoot below was for Kelly Macpepple who runs a lifestyle hair and beauty brand. Kelly wanted somewhere with a variety of different backgrounds and somewhere vibrant and fun to match her brand. We did the shoot in a hotel and surrounding areas in Guildford town centre.

We could also shoot out and about in a city centre like I did for this branding shoot below with love coach, Marilisa Conese. We can take some photos out on the streets and I’ll find lots of great backgrounds and pockets of light. And we can also get some photos of you working in a lovely cafe too.

Many shops and cafes are happy for us to shoot there if I let them know in advance and give them a shout out on our social media pages.

 

This beach shoot was for Caroline Harrison who is a brand stylist. She moved to the coast in Cornwall and named her business Making Waves Creative, so it made perfect sense for her to have her personal branding shoot on the beach, and West Wittering was the ideal backdrop for her photos.

 

AT HOME SHOOTS 

Your home could work brilliantly for the session if you want to show what you do on a day to day basis.

This is what we did for this shoot below with wedding planner Kim Thackery of Bespoke & Beyond Events. We did some of the shoot at her home in Surrey then walked to a local park to get some photos outdoors as well.

 

Then we can photograph you at your desk, having a coffee in the kitchen or relaxing in the garden. Like in this personal branding shoot below of Lidia Rumley, The Brand Storyteller at her home in Surrey. You can see how Lidia uses the images from our many shoots here on her website.

 

We are then able to get a great variety of different shots in one location. And if you are a bit shy about being photographed in public, this could be the ideal choice for you! This shoot below of Rona Wheeldon from Flowerona is a great example of an at home personal branding shoot.

 

YOUR WORKPLACE
If you have an office or a studio,  then this is often the best place for the shoot.

This shoot below with Jessica Rose of the Jewellers Academy took place at her workshop and surrounding streets in Hatton Garden.

 

Or it could be that you are a nutritionist or that healthy living is a bit part of what you do, so a health food shop may be perfect if you want photos with fruit and vegetables and your kitchen isn’t suitable for the shoot.

 

I look forward to helping you choose the perfect location for your own personal branding shoot!

5. Planning your outfits

Now time for that big question, what do you wear?

The clothes you wear can make a big difference to the feel of your photos (no pressure then!) What you wear says a lot about your brand and style, and has a major impact on the first impression you make to potential clients.

I can’t tell you exactly what to wear as you need to be you. If you have amazing pink hair and love to wear colourful vintage dresses and proudly show off your tattoos, then someone telling you to wear a dull brown trouser suit just isn’t going to work!

Please do share with me some potential outfits if you want some help, I love to help out with outfits where I can.

I thought it might help if I write a list of do’s and don’ts. Again, please remember this is your shoot, so I want you to show your unique style. But from the hundreds of shoots I’ve done, this is what I have learnt works and what doesn’t work so well.

DO….

– Think about your brand colours and wear colours that co-ordinate with these. Make sure the colours of your clothes will work on your website.

 

– Make sure that the colours that you wear actually suit you (either invest in having your colours done or ask an honest friend!)


– Wear solid colours
…I love patterns but solid colours tend to work best at photo shoots as don’t detract from your face. Please feel free to wear a print for part of your shoot though as it’s great to mix it up!


– Wear clothes that fit well
. Avoid clothes that are too tight or too loose or slouchy as that can make you look bigger than you are (think Gok Wan pulling in women’s clothes round their wastes!)

 

– Wear layers if we’re shooting out on location so you can take off layers without having to go to a changing room.

– It works well to wear jewellery for some of the shoot, especially as jewellery is easy to swap over to add a different look to your images. Try to wear just one statement piece, so either big earrings or a statement necklace rather than both.


– Wear shoes that you feel comfortable in
. As we all know, heels elongate your body and make your legs look longer, but they’re not going to work if we’re shooting in the woods! So make sure you think about where we’re shooting and what you would normally wear on your feet. And if you’re a converse girl through and through, don’t feel like you have to put on a pair of killer heels. Be you!


– Bring different options
. Depending on what package you’ve gone for, you’ll have 2-4 outfit changes. It’s a great idea to bring a few other tops along to the shoot, as we may have time to change tops a couple of times in one set up. Also it means we have other options if one of the tops isn’t working with the light conditions or the background.

AVOID….

– Avoid wearing something you wouldn’t normally wear or something you feel uncomfortable in. It feels nerve-racking enough as it is having someone point a camera at you, don’t make it worse by wearing something you feel out of place in. It will show in your photos.


– Avoid wearing clothes that are old, bobbly, stained or creased
. This is likely to show up in your photos and will cost you more in retouching fees.


– Avoid logos, neon colours, or busy prints
. These will overpower the images and make potential clients focus on those rather than you and what you’re doing. Also please be aware than thin stripes can warp in your images so are best avoided.

 

– Avoid showing too much skin, although your favourite LBD may look amazing on a night out, I will be getting you to move positions a lot and we don’t want to end up flashing anything we don’t mean to! 😉

 

– Avoid polo necks as these can sometimes make you look like you have a floating head!


– Avoid stark white or jet black tops
where possible. Black jackets with different colour tops under is ok, or a black or white top (not polo neck) with a nice neck line is fine. But if you can, cream, grey or navy tops are better than white or black.

6. Think about your hair & make-up

Hair and make up is a really personal thing.

Let’s talk about make up first. Some of my clients love to have their make-up done professionally before the session and it gives them confidence.

Other clients that I’ve worked with love to do their make up themselves. This is really down to personal preference. I have had clients had their make up done professionally and then not liked the way it looks in their images, so I would highly recommend having a test run with the make up artist you’re going to use first and get someone to take a few shots of you (with a phone is fine) just to check that you like the end result.

You really don’t want to be investing time and money in a photo shoot, then end up with a full set of photos where you don’t like your make up. So please make sure it’s right.

I suggest wearing the same amount of make up that you would wear on a night out. For some women that’s a bit of mascara and lippy, for others it’s the full works!

The most important thing is that it look like you. This isn’t the time to try something completely new.

If you want recommendations for local make-up artists, just let me know.

With regards to hair, a shoot is a great excuse to have a professional blow dry on the morning! I think it generally  looks more flattering to wear hair down for a shoot, unless you wear it up 100% of the time.

And with regards to glasses, if you wear glasses all of the time then it makes sense to wear them for your shoot as well. If you only wear them some of the time then I will take some photos of you wearing your glasses, but most will be without as they can cause problems with reflections.

It really helps if you wear glasses with non-reflective lenses in as then we won’t struggle with the lens glare quite as much.

7. Plan props for your shoot

An important part of preparing for your branding shoot, is to plan the props that you would like to use in the photos. We need to plan props for your shoot in advance. If we’re shooting at your home then it’s easier for us to shoot with a variety of props, as you can have them all ready.

If we’re shooting out on location in Surrey or London, we need to be a little more organised to ensure we have everything we need on hand.

Go back to the brand research you did, and think about props that would help to tell a story about your brand.

Maybe you are a coach and want some images of you writing in a notebook.

If you’re a florist then we will want to get some photos of you with some stunning flowers.

It’s a great idea to have some photos of you drinking out of your favourite mug, or with your laptop. Perhaps you teach people about social media, in which case we can get some photos of you on your phone or taking photos.

Also think about other things which show more of your personality. If you love handbags then definitely bring along your favourite bag to the shoot. Or maybe you’re really into essential oils, or business books. Anything that will help to tell the story of you.

Also props can be living things! If you have a dog which is a big part of your story, please feel free to bring him/her along to the shoot (I love animals!)

Or it could be that your partner/friend/client is a big part of your story. I’m very happy for them to be included in some of the shoot too.

Make sure that the props that you want to use are noted in your shot list so I can ensure they are all included.

8. Countdown to the shoot

The self-care you do before the shoot is your choice, so please just take the suggestions below that resonate with you. Hopefully this countdown to the shoot will help you to get prepared!

2-3 weeks before the shoot
– ensure you have completed the brand questionnaire
– set up Pinterest board so we can share ideas
– shop for new clothes if you need them!
– if you are booking a make-up artist, have a practise session with them at few weeks before the shoot

1-2 weeks before the shoot
– Book in for a haircut if necessary so it has time to settle before the shoot

A few days before the shoot
– Treat yourself to a gel manicure or take some time to give yourself a manicure. We are likely to take some photos of your hands doing things so it helps if you are confident about your nails!
– Get your eyebrows shaped or your lashes done if this is something you normally do
– Avoid drinking alcohol and eating salty foods a few days before your session so your skin doesn’t look tired
– Drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep so that your skin is glowing for the shoot

Some of these things may not resonate with you which is fine. Just make sure that you look after yourself before the shoot. If you feel good about yourself then you’ll feel more confident and it will show in the photos!

On the day of the shoot
– Allow enough time for you to get ready without feeling rushed. Although also be aware that if we are shooting out on location, that I will suggest shooting as early as possible is better in terms of light and being less busy. So it might mean at early start!
– Bring all of your outfits, shoes, jewellery and the props that you will be using. Also please bring a hair brush, a compact mirror and make up for top-ups. You are likely to need some pressed powder to keep any shine at bay!
– Try and stay relaxed, remind yourself of why you are brilliant at what you do, and trust that I will get the best out of you. I promise we’ll have fun!

 

Take this time to really connect with you and your brand, and feel happy in the knowledge that you’ve taken a big step in taking your business to the next level and attracting your dream clients.

I hope this guide has helped you to prepare well for your personal branding photo shoot…enjoy the experience!

Want to see some examples of my personal branding photo shoots?

Your wish is my command! Just click on the links below to see the blog post from each shoot.

Kelly Macpepple | Lifestyle brand founder | Hotel shoot

Rona Wheeldon | Flowerona blog | Home and garden shoot

Caroline Harrison | Making Waves Creative | West Wittering Beach

Natalia Barbour | Interior Design | Natalia’s studio in Guildford

Project Me for Busy Mothers | Home & Garden shoot

Dr Caz Udall | Leadership of Mums | Home and garden shoot

Nisha & Preet | Natural Health Star | Home and garden shoot

Haven't booked your shoot yet?

See more details about my personal branding shoots here