11 Steps to Prepare for YOUR BRAND photo shoot

Brand Photography tips

When you prepare for your brand photo shoot – it is the time to create a checklist. I’l be honest, the only time when I write checklist is for work. My creative brain can take only so much organisation and structure! But once I know that key things are in place – I can do my freestyling. 

As a branding photographer who creates lifestyle session images, I work a lot with professionals from creative industries. When I work with my clients, I encourage them to put some thought into these key areas BEFORE the shoot. 

Once we start shooting – it’s all about having fun!

You are probably reading this post because you have a branding photo shoot coming up. Or perhaps you are thinking about booking one. So you are in the right place to get you started!

So here goes the to-do list when you prepare for a brand photo shoot.

1. Focus on your Brand

fashion show model photography

You are what makes your business unique. So, in a nutshell, your brand is You. But even for the most anarchic creatives it’s a very vague statement. You need to define your direction.

When working with my clients, I help them to define their brand by answering a series of questions. This in-depth questionnaire allows creative professionals to pin down key elements that will help to visualise their brand. 

One of my favourite questions is “what are the three words to sum up your values?” With fitting imagery, your values will translate into your brand identity. So it pays to be really specific. How about friendliness, charm and expressiveness? Or perhaps wonder, calmness and depth? 

My own core values are international, classy and adventure. Can you see that each combination of those three words produce a different image in your head? 

Be honest with yourself and if you are stuck for words – give me a shout, Id love to help! 

2. Research your photographers

lifestyle headshots for executives

More than ever, when looking for your personal brand photographer, you need a professional. 

You certainly can ask your mate to take a picture of you holding a coffee mug with your laptop in front of you.

You also can ask your relative to take a picture of you while you are painting in your studio. 

However, only working with a professional photographer will:

help to bring the professional in you. You are not just their sister, mum or book club friend – you are a business person.

put professional editing and delivery deadlines. It’s not just a favour, it’s business.

provide experience and guidance in choosing locations, props, accessories, logistics, honest advice on wardrobe, hair and make up.

Of course it goes without saying that your brand photographer will have to be the person who’s company you enjoy. 

“Pamela definitely felt relaxed around you. You have the way of making people feel comfortable.”

Caroline Calnan Sagrada

Marketing & Communications Consultant

3. Inspiration board – key element when prepare for a brand photo shoot

fashion designer branding shoot
inspiration board branding photography

For me this is the easy part. Pulling together a collection of images which represent what I like is an enjoyable experience. For Pamela above – our inspiration board included ideas for presenting her products as well as her own headshots.

When a client writes words that describe their core values, I want to make sure that we visualise them in the same way. This is a key part of the process when you prepare for a brand photo shoot. Inspiration board brings those words to life. 

Take colours. Inspiration board will show me your favourite colours, your brand colours, the intensity of those colours and their combination that you like. 

Take locations. Edgy urban, classic 19th century, bricks, red sandstone, light sandstone, steel? Would rather have a countryside? Is it a field, a farm, a river bank, stables, allotment, a forest, a flower farm, an orchard?

Mood. Sunrise, sunshine, sunset? White background, busy town, restful seaside, plush hotel? 

Images on your inspiration board will provide the key to creating a successful imagery for your brand. All you need is someone who can read it. 

4. Props and Accessories

prepare for brand shoot Accessories

A brand photo shoot is so much more than just a headshot. As a face of your business, you will be able to showcase your products and services as well as the lifestyle that goes with it. 

Meaningful props will bring your brand to life. 

One of my clients is a textile and haute couture embroidery designer. Her list of props included but was not limited to:

textile dyes, salts, mixing bowls, measuring gadgets, two tables in her back garden, table clothes always used when dying fabrics, a cute denim dungarees and a hair band that she made herself. Plus a cherry tree with dream-catches and wind chimes.

And that was the list just for the textile design part.

There was a whole different wardrobe, setting and props for her haute couture embroidery. 

5. Think Locations

Whether you work in a charming studio or from your home sofa – your brand shoot location should reflect you and your business. 

For example, for my recent brand shoot for a sea glass jewellery designer we photographed on the sea breakers. The sea – its mood, colours, enigma give the inspiration to her designs, so it was super important to include it. 

Sometimes the choice of location will provide the kind of energy you want to inject into your visuals to reflect your style of working. 

Sometimes, the best location is your home, because that’s where you are most comfortable. With your own favourite mug of tea. 

6. Analyse logistics

brand shoot logistics

Getting from one location to another takes time. That is, if you decide that you need more that one location for your photo session. 

My Extended Branding Photo Shoot allows for photography of your products as well your headshots and lifestyle pictures.

When you prepare for this type of brand photo shoots it’s a good idea to write an itinerary with details of locations, transport, times and any help that might be needed to move from one place to another. 

6. Collect inspiration for what you are going to wear

branding photography tips

And at the same time consider how you will do your hair and make up.

Just like location, your wardrobe is just another layer of your photo shoot. 

It might be a good idea to include some outfit choices on your inspiration board and then have a look what you already have in your wardrobe. You just might need to get something new, but that’s a good excuse to do a bit of shopping, right?

7. Honestly access your need for a hair stylist and make up-artist

make-up for branding shoot

This is an important one, so please don’t skim over it. You might be wearing dungarees and you might be strolling barefoot on the beach, but you are still presenting yourself as a professional. 

It’s true that most of the days we’ll have our hair in a bun or a ponytail – mine mane certainly is. But for your brand shoot, it’s worth treating it as a special occasion. And if you are not too familiar with hair gadgets or brow pencils, perhaps it’s a good idea to put yourself in the hands of a professional. 

I will be happy to provide recommendations for both hair stylists and make-up artists. 

Having your hair done in the local coiffure will also make you feel relaxed and pampered before your shoot. 

8. Create two shot lists

branding photography with personality

Only one more thing to do before you can relax and look forward to your photo session. A shot list. 

In fact I encourage my clients to make two shot list – A and B. A-shot list is the “must have” pictures. B-shot list is everything else that might be nice to include, but not essential. 

Trust me, when you are in the middle of a shoot freestyling your lifestyle in front of the camera, it’s easy to miss things. So keep that A list handy. 

9. Have some beauty treatments

textile designer branding shoot

This is a nice thing to do before your brand shoot. Whether you go to a spa for a massage or do a face mask at home – take your time to enjoy yourself. Absorb all the positive energy that comes from self-care. This is show in your pictures. 

10. Prep the day before.

Prep your wardrobe, props, accessories, lists the day before the shoot. Remember that you are going to be the main focus of the shoot, so try and get a good rest. 

11. Relax and enjoy!

With all the above done, you can relax and trust your photographer to do the rest. You can have fun thinking and talking about your passion – your business. 

picture of me by Kerry James