When we think about personal brand photos, often our minds associate it with awkward and forced smiles in a portrait. The stigma then often leads to the preconceived fear or avoidance of having to book a photoshoot and endure the uncomfortable experience of sitting in front of the camera. Photography has progressed a lot since the Kodak moment in a Walmart Photo and Print Centre. With social media, we are able to express ourselves to new levels by creating our own comfort zones within the content. We have the power to create our own vision, focus on a message, and evoke it through unique images. We can use photography to communicate our style by creating a scene with props, choosing the right location, outfit changes, shots, and other elements. Let’s talk about the steps you can take to plan a successful personal branding photoshoot that makes all the difference to your potential customer/client.
Preparing for your personal branding shoot will ensure that you, your photographer, your makeup artist, and everyone else who is involved in the photo shoot are on the same page. Here are a few details you will want to consider when planning the first stages of a personal branding shoot:
Choosing a specific location for all the pictures can make all the difference. Consider places that not only match your brand aesthetics but also convey the right message. For example, a website designer may want photos taken in front of an office with a blank wall holding a laptop to draw attention to the professional feel of the work, or they may want to host the location in a cafe, to showcase a remote lifestyle.
Ensure that you look YOUR best and feel comfortable in your choice of clothing, and that your outfit selection matches your brand aesthetic. Dressing appropriately for your niche and reflecting personal style is essential for brand photography. Wear complementary colours to the personality of your brand.
Your images should show the person behind the brand. Your personality and personal style should come through in your images. Playing your favourite music, wearing clothes that reflect who you are, and being in an element that you are comfortable in are all influencers of comfort. Try to show off your natural energy by allowing yourself to freely move in your shoot. The more you express yourself in your photos, the more most people will be attracted to your brand.
Before your photoshoot, research visuals that align with your brand. Save photos on Instagram, Pinterest, or source content from Magazines that can serve as inspiration. Consider images that evoke the mood and feeling you want to communicate. Collect images that show posing, lighting, and editing ideas so that you can have a clear vision of the outcome you want to achieve.
Your personal brand is communicating to future clients- who is that? What would it take from a single photo to attract this clients attention? What does this client do for fun? When you develop an understanding of who you are communicating to, the potential clients will understand you. Having a clear understanding and background knowledge on who you are speaking to allows you to produce brand photography that naturally attracts a specific client.
On which platforms are you going to share your branding photos? Will you be using them in instagram posts, and/or a website? Will it be shot portrait style or used as a banner image? Understanding the places you will be sharing your photos can help you plan a concise shot list. This shot list can be shared with your photographer so that they are aware of the shots they need to take in camera during the shoot.
Props work great as additions to storytelling. Bring in elements that help you express your brand and personality (ie. your favourite mug or pair of shoes). Props can be used to demonstrate the services or products you offer.
It is recommended that you hire a professional branding photographer who specializes in portraiture to create unique imagery for your business. When you work with a portrait photographer, they understand posing, lighting, and capturing natural energy. Working with a professional photographer comes with confidence that they understand their camera, the shots they need to take, guide you with what to wear, provide makeup and hair suggestions, and deliver the best quality photos. How do you know if the photographer is professional?
First, make sure you look at their portfolio and you can see consistency in their work. Often times photographers who are new will not have a niche or style established, and their work will be inconsistent. An indicator of this is if there is only one photo consistently used across their social platforms and website; if quality is inconsistent, a photographer might be sharing the one photo that turned out really good against the rest. You will want to focus on a photographer who has a portfolio of portraiture; specifically with small business owners, coaches, freelancers, and so forth. This style of photography is all related to branding photography, which can provide confidence knowing that they have experience in the area you are seeking. Professional photographers are not photographers who own professional cameras. Photographers who have experience in the field understand composition, lighting, directing/posing, and pay attention to details like wrinkles in clothing, and hair standing up.
When you look at a photographers portfolio, most professionals have a specific style that is reflected throughout their recent work. This is often expressed in the shooting and editing style (ie. light and airy, or dark and moody). Be sure to resonate with the style that the photographer creates. I don’t recommend that you contact any photographer and ask them to edit catered to your liking, when what they have shared is a completely different style. Photographers are artists; if you ask an expert acrylic painter to use watercolour, it just won’t turn out the same. Photographers work the same way; they become masters in the styles they create which are establish based on the shooting styles and editing techniques they grow most confident in.
Personal brand photography is a vulnerable practice, especially for those who are not used to or comfortable being in front of a camera. It is critical to feel connected and aligned with your photographer. By sharing similar energy, it will allow the shoot experience to feel more comfortable, guided, and the energy will translate naturally in the photos. I recommend you have a meeting with your photographer prior to booking with them, to gain a sense of their personality, to ensure you feel safe and comfortable speaking with them, and to begin a professional relationship with clear communication.
Based on the mood your brand is portraying, include photos that communicate an emotion. If you are going for a very fun and outgoing presence, then reflect this in your photos with laughter and energetic movement. If you are aiming to appear professional and trustworthy, then capture photos with full eye contact and straight posture.
This is a portrait shot that is taken in front of a plain background. It allows you the option to add context such as icons, buttons, text, banners, etc. for the use of promoting and marketing. These can be useful for social platforms, newsletters, banners, and much more.
Include photos that show the environment in relation to your brand style. This can include wide shots of standing in an office, or at a park.
Include a variety of photos that reflects the work you do so that it can be shared with your clients on social media and on your website. Providing context about your brand by including activities that you do behind-the-scenes is interesting to an audience.
As a personal brand photographer, I work 1:1 with clients and walk them through this entire process so that they feel confident in their experience and are thrilled with the final product they are receiving. I’d love to provide you with further guidance in creating your branding photography, so that you can be fully prepared on the journey of up-levelling your brand content and attract the clients you desire!