So you’ve either booked your shoot or you plan to soon enough, and you’re wondering where do I even start with planning this shoot to be the best investment for my brand it can possibly be?
I totally get it, the thought of a photoshoot can be enough to send most people into a panic spiral unless you’re a professional model. You’re not alone! But it can be a fun processes to pull together and that in turn will make the shoot itself so well thought out and enjoyable. So here are my steps to tick off when planning your branding and content shoot.
Essentially there are three things you need to clarify –
- What photos do you need?
- Where will they be taken?
- And what will be in the photos?
But let’s break it down!
What photos do you need?
Is this your first shoot, a brand evolution, or images for a specific launch? Is the shoot for features, collabs and a book cover, meaning you need lots of beautiful portraits? Do you need blog headers with specific themes? Website banners that are super wide? Facebook Ad photos with negative space for text on one side? Social media content to see you through your next few months? Do you have a product coming out that needs photos shot with a specific colour or theme?
Then break it down even more. Exactly how many pages need website headers? If you need Instagram content, how often do you post? How many posts do you need to keep you consistent? Remember that if you need a bunch of Facebook posts then your Instagram could double up, so what would be the best dimensions to request this set of images in? These answers will help determine the image constraints and variations needed.
ACTION – Write down everything in your business that currently needs an image, or that will need an image in the foreseeable future. Next to each category on your list, write down quantities needed and rough ideas of crop constraints.
- Website Home page – banner with space on the right.
- Website About Me – banner with me in the middle, me with my photography kit, a shot each of my husband and dogs.
- Headshot: tight crop, with camera, with on-brand coloured outfit, smiling with eye contact that works on all social media, features and Abouts.
- Instagram – 3 posts per week for 3 months (36 Instagram photos) (resized for non-blurry posts!)
- Facebook – Repurposing Instagram content for 3 posts per week for 3 months, 2 Facebook Ads wide shots with negative space in front of an on-brand coloured wall.
You might already have an established brand personality, with a colour palate, font library and general visual vibes, but I you don’t – this is the place to start when planning your content. Think brand words that ignite visuals. For example – feminine, light, freeing, natural, dreaming. Or strong, powerful, vibrant, limitless, bold. These are two ends of the scale, and you can already imagine the difference in the visual communication coming from these two businesses. Once you have business personality traits you can start to imagine what those would look like. If your brand was a human, what personality traits would she have? It might not be the same as your own personality traits, however selecting any of yourself that is in alignment with your brand is seriously good authentic place to start!
Lastly, how do you want your brand to come across to your dream client? This will guide the feeling of the shoot. These words should be in both yours and my mind during everything we’re creating.
ACTION – Write down the five words that describe your brand.
My example: Freedom Seeker, Nomadic, Kind, Wild, Youthful.
I highly recommend Pinterest! Sharing visual examples will making communicating your photography needs much more easy. If you’re finding it hard to develop your brand personality pinning ideas is a great place to start. You’ll gravitate towards a certain style and after a while, once you’re board fills up, you’ll start to see a style organically developing. When pinning ideas, don’t just search personal branding photography. Grab ideas from photographers’ websites, screenshot Instagrammers, pin photos of colours, outfits, furniture, expressions – it all helps conceptualise and communicate the personality of your brand. I start by pinning everything that feels inspiring and then go back through and narrow down to the leading trend I’ve created.
ACTION – Create a Pinterest board.
Where will your photos be?
Where is your brand based or what country embodies your brand even better than your hometown? This is an important one to pin down before picking a photographer simply because they might only be regional or not in your area for months in advance. That being said, if you’re open to suggestions or generally just a world traveller (high five), enquire with your favourite photographers and see where their upcoming shoot destinations are. A location can add so much character to your branding shoot. With specific places already filling our minds with a certain perceptions, it helps to communicate your style. For example, a shoot in Santorini is going to lend itself differently as a backdrop than a shoot in London. If you’re not quite sure of where to shoot, check back in with your Pinterest board. Does it shout out any specific location to you because of colours, land or cityscape?
Once you’ve picked the place, it’s time to break it down into locations for each set or scene.
ACTION -With your Pinterest board and your shot list in mind, write down the location for the shoot, then some spaces you think will best serve each requirement.
My example: For my last overhaul of image for my new website, I split the shoot between a road trip and my home town.
- Website Home page – Bryce Canyon National Park.
- Website About Me – At home with my family.
- Headshot: At home on the plains.
- Instagram – At home, on the plains and on the road trip to Bryce Canyon National Park (inc LA, Joshua Tree, Zion NP)
- Facebook – An orange wall during road trip.
What will be in your photos?
Use your mood board to start off with and see what colours and styles are becoming a common theme for you. I love shooting lifestyle images with clothing that’s neutral, simple and pale and then adding pops of brand colours and even statement prints for occasional shots. Lifestyle images are huge in photography trends right now, so if you take a look at any commercial photography advert you’ll see how beautifully the models are styled to fit in with or pop out from their surroundings. Unless your brand aesthetic is dark, aim for pale colours. If black is in your brand colours then by all means add it in, but if you’re going for an airy, light and dreamy photoshoot and you bring black pants and a purple leopard print dress it might be a little jarring in the image! Use clothing to express different dimensions of your brand personality – yogi, feminine, girl boss, neutral for collabs etc.
ACTION – Write down 5 different looks or brand personalities you want to capture. Then go back to your shot list and write an outfit next to each shot.
- Website Home page – Black denim shorts and rusty orange one-piece.
- Website About Me – Denim and hats.
- Headshot: Yellow knit and cowboy hat.
- Instagram – 12 looks out of capsule of – Levis cut-offs blue and black, Wrangler jeans, on brand coloured crop tops, brown cardi, cowboy hat, Brixton hat, all Brandy Melville Tees,
- Facebook – Teal sun dress and cowboy hat.
ACTION – At this point book a hair and makeup artist, or plan how you will do your own makeup.
Do you have a physical product or a book to add into your shoot? Or maybe an e-book or an online course and you need content with a blank iPad in your hands or on the table? Props massively help communicate your brand personality as much as an outfit can. A green juice, a beautiful crystal, a yoga matt, designer stilettos, a big handful of designer shopping bags, everything in the photograph adds meaning and helps to build your personal brand.
As with clothing, write down the different parts of your business and next to each one, list out what items would convey traits well. Like – Teaching people the art of self love? – this could be accompanied with flowers and mala beads. Or selling courses on Instagram marketing? – I imagine an on-brand coloured coffee cup next to an iPhone, camera and journals.
ACTION – Write down all the props you’ll bring for each scene.
- Website Home page – Laptop, iphone, camera kit bag, orange National Park cap.
- Website About Me – Reusable coffee cup, rental truck.
- Headshot: Canon camera with on brand camera strap and cowboy hat.
- Instagram – Old camera, Canon, laptop with stickers, burnt orange strippy note book, teal hydroflask, yellow hydroflask, reusable coffee flask, Bali reusable grass grocery bag, spare hats, on brand camera strap, camera kit bag and huskies!
- Facebook – Canon with long lens.
So this process doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s going to make you feel really prepared to have this all figured out but also we want to leave room for creative flow rather that being so strict with ideas that it feels stressful if something doesn’t go as planned or you stubble across the perfect location mid shoot and there’s no time to use it. The key is to plan up to the point where you feel ready to get creative with the knowledge that your shoot is going to set you up for a massive return on your investment once you implement your images.