We all know that having a clear, consistent visual identity is super important for any business, large or small. But your logo, typefaces and brand colors are only part of it. The images that represent your brand and the products or services you offer are equally as important. While logos, consistent brand colors and design styles are important for developing brand recognition and awareness, consistent brand photos help your audience better envision their life with you (your brand or product) in it.
Ever heard the phrase “the like, know and trust factor”? Well now you have. Your audience needs to like you, know you and they need to trust you in order to engage and ultimately buy from you. Photos are part of what will help you do this! Professional photos that are intentional in their purpose and message will take your business a step above the rest. The key word here is intentional.
Okay, so now that we know why planning brand photoshoots is important, let’s talk about the how. You’re ready to create some imagery for your brand! Whether large or small, product or service-based, these are the 10 steps you’ll need to plan a successful and, you guessed it, intentional brand photoshoot for your business:
First thing’s first. Spend some time to get clear on your brand messaging and who your target audience is! If you’re just starting out as a new business, then this is a great reason and opportunity to think through some important questions that will help you better articulate what makes your brand different from anyone else. This is the time to review your mission and vision statements, to think about your brand personality and to remind yourself of who it is you’re speaking to. Who is your ideal client? Knowing this will help you reach this audience in a way that is relevant to their wants and needs while setting you apart from other businesses in your market.
The difference between a branding photoshoot and any other session like a family or portrait session is that these photos will serve a specific marketing purpose and are intentionally designed to speak to your audience (and ya know, grow your business and grow your bottom line). What is that purpose? This could be specific things like to announce a new online coaching course you’re launching next month or to showcase a new line of denim you’ll be carrying in your store for the season. Or maybe you’re just starting out and this is more general such as photos of yourself to use across your business so your audience can see you.
Now that you know the purpose, where do you plan to use these in your business? Some popular places could be:
Social media posts
Decor and wall art for a brick & mortar space
For a lookbook or catalog
Facebook and google ads
A billboard, poster, street sign, etc.
Print materials such as business cards, pamphlets & guides
And it will likely be a combination of several of these but it’s important to know where you might plan to use them. Then, you’ll want to talk through this with your photographer because different uses will require various image sizes (ie: smaller web-size files vs. high resolution images for print). This will also help you make your shot list (#9 on this list!)
Here’s where the creative side kicks in. Gather inspiration and put together a simple mood board based on everything you’ve worked through so far. This might include color palettes you’re envisioning that make sense with your brand or for the purpose of the shoot and to convey vibes or moods you want to achieve in the photos. This will help give your photographer direction so they can better understand what it is you’re envisioning in your head. A bonus step is to take your mood board to a friend (or someone who’s not directly involved in your brand or business) and ask them what they take away from the mood board. This will give you a chance to make sure they’re picking up what you’re putting down visually and allow you to check that the messages you think you’re sending are what your audience is actually receiving. This will help you both choose the best location for the shoot!
Now that you know the message, the purpose and the vibe you’re going for, it’s time to scout and choose the location or multiple locations you’ll shoot at. Make sure to book any spaces or studios you’ll need or if applicable, to get any photography permits needed to shoot on location. Your photographer is a good resource for studio and location ideas so definitely work on this part together!
Numbers 6 and 7 on this list may inform one another so you’ll likely need to work back and forth between the two.
If the shoot is a personal branding session for you and possibly a team, the next thing you’ll want to do is choose your outfits. Again, as you choose what to wear, keep the purpose and intention of the shoot and your target audience in mind!
If you’re photographing clothing or products on models, like jewelry or a catalog shoot for next season, you’ll need to prepare any looks and pieces needed. If that’s the case, you may need to do some fittings beforehand and coordinate with any talent you’re hiring for the shoot.
Or if you’re photographing products, food or something similar, this is when you’ll want to gather those products or create your list of menu items or recipes that need to be photographed. Make sure everything is photo ready. Whether that means pulling the best sample products and taking off any wrapping or packaging or steaming clothes, now is the time.
This could mean a few different things. Will you need hair and make-up done for you, your team or any models? Speaking of, do you need to cast and hire models? Are there any other businesses, vendors or talent involved that you need to coordinate with for the shoot? For example, if you’re shooting the new fall menu for your restaurant, will you be hiring a food stylist? Do you need to rent any furniture or props?
Now’s the time to gather any props you’ll need for the shoot. Maybe this is your laptop, favorite coffee mug or a camera. Maybe it’s glassware and dishes for your food or product photos. Once again, make sure these props make sense for your purpose.
At this point, you should have most of the details in place so the nearly last thing you’ll want to do is create a detailed list of the specific photos you need. Review the uses for the images you listed out in #2 and then take that in consideration with the location, outfits, etc. to put together a list of the exact shots you need. For example, this could be outfits no. 1 & 2 at the studio, both in vertical format to be used in instagram stories. Or outfit #2 on Jane in horizontal format with negative space on the right side for the home banner on the website. Get specific!
Based on the shot list, come up with a timeline for the shoot to keep everyone moving on schedule and make sure everything you need gets covered. (It’s a good idea to work with your photographer on this to make sure what you’re planning is realistic and that everyone is on the same page)
The larger (meaning more people, looks, locations, production value, etc. involved) the shoot, the more important this is. Do you have 2 hours to photograph 40 clothing pieces for your online boutique? That means you have 3 minutes to shoot each piece or look! Or maybe you have two locations to get to, the photographer is booked for 3 hours and you have 4 outfits to wear. How do you want to break up the time to make sure things keep moving? How long will it take you to drive from one location to the next? And obviously, you’ll need to communicate this plan with everyone else involved so everyone knows when and where to be. And don’t forget to allocate set-up and teardown time for each location or new shot.
With the planning done, it’s time to have fun! And in my experience, music and snacks always make for a better photoshoot!
There you have it, the 10 steps to plan a successful brand photoshoot! Planning a photoshoot can be daunting, especially if you’re just starting out or if it’s a large-scale production, but no matter what it, it’s one of the best investments you can make in your business. Work through these steps one by one and before you know it, you’ll have put together an intentional photoshoot. Once you’ve read through these steps, you can download my easy-to-use brand photoshoot planning checklist to make sure you don’t miss any steps or details in the process. Just click below to download!