This post has been a long time coming. I’ve alluded to this topic on IG several times in the past but since then, ideas for a full-fledged post have just taken up valuable brain space. The kick in the pants I needed to share my branding photoshoot ideas came recently, right about the time I planned my own personal branding shoot in Raleigh. I decided to go all in and splurge on the things I told myself I didn’t need for all my past brand photography sessions. Spoiler alert: It was worth it. Below I’m sharing my 5 step branding photoshoot checklist plus insight on which elements are worth the investment.
In a recent post, I answered two of my FAQs: “what is branding photography?” and “what is a brand photographer?”. Check out this post for more detail on when and why you should work with a luxury branding photographer.
Here’s a quick review before we dive into specifics:
Branding photography, AKA personal branding photography, is a stylized suite of images used to create and support the visual identity of a business owner’s personal “brand.” Branding photos can include anything from team headshots for your website to posed interactions with your product, service, or client.
A branding photoshoot captures the significant visual elements of your brand that help tell your story. Props you use on a daily basis (think: desk, laptop, cellphone, products you sell, tools), a relevant location or backdrop such as your workplace, as well as you and your team, are the primary elements included in a branding photoshoot.
Branding photographers typically offer all, or a combination of, the following services: product photos, headshots, team photos, individual and group lifestyle portraits, custom stock images, and interior photos for social media and web.
Finding the best portrait photographer for your branding session is a very personal process; you need to ensure you feel comfortable working with this person, vibe with their energy, and love their process and style (especially if you’re going for a very editorial look that takes some creative direction).
In order to find the right photographer for your branding photoshoot, make sure they can deliver on your vision. Be wary of working with a photographer who has limited or no examples from their portfolio that embody the style you’re going for unless you have complete trust in that photographer’s artistic eye.
In order to get the most out of your shoot, recognize that there’s a lot more to it than just showing up and smiling for the camera. I highly recommend creating a must-have shot list and sharing this with your photographer prior to the shoot. I used Pinterest to get ideas and pull together inspiration photos for my personal brand!
Consider content buckets you’ll be discussing on social media, or where these images will be used on delivery. Knowing how you’ll plan to use the images makes sure you can maximize your time and focus on shooting only content you’ll use and love.
Check out my post on How to Use Your Personal Branding Photos on Social Media in 2024.
Location, location, location! The saying isn’t exclusive to real estate. Deciding where to host your branding photoshoot should be a top priority during your planning process. Your photographer might have some hidden gem locations you wouldn’t otherwise know about, so ask for their guidance here!
Some other potential options to explore include Airbnb/VRBO, Peerspace, or local wedding/event venues. If you have your own personal studio or a specific location in mind, consult with your photographer to see whether or not they think the site is suitable for your desired outcome.
Your photographer may have their own photography studio, which is a great option for several reasons. For one, the studio rental price may already be baked into your session price, which could cut hourly venue rental costs. Additionally, it’s likely the studio will already be equipped with props, backdrops, lighting, and other elements that will give your brand photo shoot a clean and professional feel.
I love using my photography studio as a backdrop for branding photoshoots because it’s a blank slate we can customize however we want! When clients arrive on site, I like to have the studio already staged with backdrops and other items we decided on during our planning process. I encourage clients to bring their own props and products so personality and brand identity come through in the final imagery.
Before this year, I’d never worked with a personal stylist for my own photos. Now that I have, I don’t think I could ever go without one for future branding photoshoots! I worked with Style Me Tay on an inspiration board (admittedly featuring a lot of Hailey Bieber) and she got to work curating outfits that not only fit the theme of my new brand but also created so much variation between each look. She took all the guesswork out of finding the right styles and shapes for me, and it took away that “should I wear this?” feeling of doubt we all get. It’s a 10/10 from me.
Here are some local personal stylists in the Raleigh area that I highly recommend:
When it comes to branding and professional headshots, clean and simple neutrals are a great place to start. I recommend going with styles that directly reflect your brand. Stick to timeless rather than trendy pieces for the sake of longevity. If your brand lends itself to brighter or bolder prints and colors, consult with your photographer and a personal stylist to see what will work best on camera. Rent the Runway is a great option for curating pieces you’ll only wear once!
Pro tip: Bring two to three outfit changes for a one-hour photoshoot; if the look you think is your fave isn’t photographing quite right, you’ll have options!
Check out my interview with Style Me Tay here for more tips on what to wear for headshots and personal branding photos.
Last but not least, make sure to hire a hair and makeup artist for your branding photoshoot. Seriously. As a rule of thumb, the camera removes at least 25% of your makeup in post. Hiring someone who is well versed in on-camera makeup application will ensure you have enough makeup on to show up in photos but still look like yourself.
When you hire a hair and makeup artist to stick around during your session, take advantage of their time and expertise! Just like you’d have several different outfit changes, experiment with your hair up or down, accessorize, or try adding a bolder lip color for some images.
Teighla Norris has been my go-to HMUA for client projects for years. For my rebranding photoshoot, we went bolder than ever with my makeup and hair, with changes for every look. The insurance of having a HMUA on set in case anything goes wrong is worth every penny!
I think the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is pretty fitting when it comes to brand photography. For years, I told myself I didn’t need all the little “extras” that people splurge on for shoots. Well, let me tell you; now that I’ve more recently been on the other side of the camera, those “extras” made all the difference. Going through a detailed planning process with my photographer and other vendors helped us create a set of images that I’m so proud of and plan to use for years to come.
As a luxury lifestyle brand photographer, my goal is to showcase your brand through captivating imagery and composition, providing you with balmy, cultivated images showing both where you are and where you want to go. Sound like something you’re into? Let’s chat about your photography needs and how I can help serve you. Click here to book a complimentary consultation.