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.
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?
If you haven't done any deep brand work before and would like my help with this, you could book one of my Personal Brand Strategy Calls before the session so you can be crystal clear on your brand before we plan your shoot.
You choose a photographer because you like the style of their work, but it still helps to create a visual mood board before your session.
It's a great idea to create a visual mood board of photos and branding elements that you love. This ensures that I get a clear idea of the overall aesthetic that you want to achieve.
A mood board will then help us to think about suitable locations for your branding shoot and helps you to plan outfits & props too.
If you would rather just leave this in my hands to create what I feel works best for your brand on the day of the shoot, that's fine too!
You need to think about where you will be using your new branding images.
Are there specific places on your website where 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 helps if you can provide me with a list of shots you require as it helps the shoot to flow well 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 these wouldn't be shots I would automatically take. Or perhaps you're planning on launching a podcast, so it would be a good idea to get some shots of you speaking into a mic.
It's good to also 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 part of your shoot in one outfit.
Planning in this much detail in advance means that we get all of the images that you require for your website and social media.
OUTFIT ONE – Jeans and jumper
- Headshot for about me page
- Banner image with white space for homepage
- Banner image looking to one side for new online course
- Sitting enjoying a coffee with my favourite mug
- Working on laptop at my desk
- Holding books
- Taking a photo with my phone
Of course, if you don't want to plan in this much detail and you would rather leave the flow of the shoot in my capable hands, that's totally fine too!
Everybody is different and I'll work with you in the way that best suits you.
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 agree on 1 or 2 shoot locations in Surrey or London which may be your home, a hired venue, my garden studio or out on location.
Below are some of the locations we could use for your shoot...
When we shoot out on location, the world is literally our oyster!
I regularly shoot in a boutique hotel in Guildford, Surrey which has a great variety of different spots and backgrounds for us to use.
I have done shoots on the beach, in central London, in parks, forests, lavender fields and everywhere in between!
See these blog posts for some examples of on-location branding shoots.
If you want to capture photos of you working in your own environment, then an at home branding shoot in Surrey or London could work brilliantly for you.
Then we can photograph you at your desk, having a coffee in the kitchen or relaxing in the garden.
If you are a bit nervous about being photographed in public, an at home shoot could be perfect for you. There are also styled houses that we can hire for the shoot, let me know if you would like details.
Read my blog post talking through the benefits of having your branding shoot in your home.
If you would love to have some photos at a desk and some personality shots of you in a gorgeous natural light studio, then my garden studio in Hindhead, Surrey could be perfect for you.
I have a lovely forest at the end of my road, so you get the best of both worlds, natural studio images and photos in the woods as well.
There's also a private changing room so you can change outfits in comfort too! Oh and I make a good coffee. :-)
Here is a blog post with more images and info about my garden studio.
Now time for that big question - what the heck 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 grey 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 can also suggest a few great stylists if you would like more help styling your outfits for the shoot.
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.
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 for some of the shoot…I love patterns but solid colours tend to work best for photos as they 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.
Wear layers if we’re shooting out on location so you can take off layers without having to go to a changing room.
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 so well if we’re shooting in the woods! 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. 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.
You'll have a very happy photographer if you wear clothes with pockets (it makes posing that much easier!) They're not essential, but if you're choosing between outfits and only one has pockets, go with that one!
Wearing something you wouldn’t normally wear or something you feel uncomfortable in. It will likely show in your photos.
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.
Logos, neon colours, or small fussy prints. These can 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.
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! 😉
Polo necks especially dark ones as these can sometimes make you look like you have a floating head!
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.
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. I have lots of make up artists in Surrey that I can recommend, so just ask me for my suggestions.
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. I think a make up lesson is a great idea, then you can recreate the look yourself on the day of the shoot.
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. I will try my hardest to avoid glare, but if you don't have anti-reflective coating on your lenses it may be impossible to avoid.
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'll want some photos of you with some gorgeous flowers.
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 if the venue is dog-friendly (I love animals!)
Or it could be that your partner/friend/client is a big part of your story. I’m 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.
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!
Read this blog post with my 8 tips to help you feel relaxed in front of the camera.
I’ve been a branding photographer for well over a decade and have become known as one of the leading branding photographers in the UK.
I’m so passionate about what I do. I adore making people feel comfortable in front of my camera and producing images that they will love. I genuinely care about my clients which is why so many of them return to me year after year.
I’ve photographed famous authors, renowned coaches, branding experts and hundreds of inspiring entrepreneurs. My work has been featured internationally in publications including Vanity Fair, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Practical Photography and Cosmopolitan to name just a few.
I also help business owners to be more visible in their businesses whilst staying true to themselves through my 121 mentoring and retreats.
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