choosing the perfect time, location, outfit & More!
A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE
I am so excited that you took the first step to check out this guide and I can't wait for you to start diving into the planning process of your very own personal branding session!
I am a huge fan of branding sessions for so many reasons. First, branding sessions allow you to show off your personality in order for you to start attracting your ideal client. If you think about it, the visuals you are putting online are either attracting or repelling clients, and I’m pretty sure you are wanting to attract your preferred customer. Secondly, personal branding photos can help elevate your work for not only your social media but give your business a consistent and professional look on all platforms you have a presences.
Third, you can showcase your profession in a setting which matches the personality of the unique business you are creating! So what this means for each of my clients is this; no two branding sessions are ever the same. You will have a unique brand session that fits YOU in order to make your business stand out online!
There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning a personal brand session and since I get asked the same things over and over again, I thought it would be the most helpful to put together a guide that walks you through everything you need to know.
It’s time to update your headshot, create photos you love, so you can promote your business with confidence. Let me help you elevate your brand by planning out a successful session!
I get it. Having your picture taken for a couple hours might not be in your top-10 favorite things to do. You probably have ALL.THE.THINGS. to do in your business. And at first you might feel sort of awkward being in front of the camera. But I think you’ll find that by the end of the session, it’s a lot easier than you thought, and you even had a little fun. I look forward to it because it’s a great opportunity for you to walk away with so much valuable content to use not only for your website but other social media platforms.
A NOTE TO
Branding sessions can take place anywhere from the business owner’s home office to a rented AirBNB space. I have found that there isn’t a “good” or “bad” time to take your photos. I normally plan sessions based on a particular “look” a business owner has in mind, and primarily based on the pre-branding questionnaire the client fills out once they book with me.
I have two main packages so sessions typically are either 3 hours (half day) or 6 hours (full day) depending on what the business owner’s content needs are. I prefer to start the shoot earlier in the day where there is ample natural light.
However, if it is an overcast (or stormy) day outside, I have lighting equipment to help me achieve a consistent and natural look for the session. We go more into depth in the permits section of this guide, but if you decide to photograph your session at a rented property, make sure that the owner permits you to use lighting equipment.
While I shoot most of my branding sessions year-round, some of my clients have chosen a season based on the location where they want to shoot.
A few things to keep in mind as you plan out your branding session:
Planning a Launch?
capture some celebration photos
In addition to these new branding photos, are you planning a new launch for a website? A digital product? A physical product? Let’s be intentional with one of your storylines to incorporate the specific launch you want to highlight!
You work so hard on your business, you need to have some celebration photos of different milestones you WILL reach in the months + years ahead!
especially if they are a part of your brand
Even though your business may be a team of one (you) or a small team, you still have a village (aka your family) who backs you up day in and day out. If your family is one of the biggest WHYS behind your business, include them in some of your photos (again only if you are comfortable with that)! They can come in at the beginning or the tailend of your session so that you have a few photos with the TEAM behind your brand!
show your future clients how you can work with them
If you are a service provider who works 1:1 with clients, you should consider showcasing how you work with your 1:1 clients in your branding session. This shows future clients what it would be like to work with you, and it helps them better envision booking with you because they actually see what you do with a real-life client!
Lighting and the time of the Year
lights, camera, action!
If you’re planning on taking your branding photos during winter, keep in mind that your session most likely will need to take place indoors, so we could begin shooting as early as 9 AM to get as much natural lighting as possible from the windows. Yes, I do have lighting equipment, but during the winter months we have to factor in how dark it gets by 5PM so I want to make sure your session is well lit throughout the day!
Want to feature your workspace? I always love coming into a branding client’s workspace to showcase how and where they work.
When you showcase your workspace it will give you the advantage of having truly unique branding photos (because no one else will have space like yours)!
However, there are some factors that may suggest choosing a different space: over-clutter, your space is in your house (kitchen, dining room, basement, closet, living room, a space which doesn’t truly capture your brand’s messaging), there are no windows, even the color of the decor and walls do not match your branding.
You do not always have to shoot and feature where you work!
LOCATION IDEAS (IF YOU DON'T HAVE AN "OFFICE")
Wondering how to choose a location?
I love it when business owners choose a location for their branding session that compliments their business. I bring this point up only because I’ve had business owners not want to use their own working spaces as the featured location. So here are a few suggestions I have come up with for you to look into if you need to think outside of the box:
BLK STRY STUDIO
The Lumen Room
Black & Light Studio
The Studio House
Lemon Drop Studios
natural light studios
The Studio List
Stock & Seed House
The above locations are all beautiful but if you have a space in mind, please do not hesitate to suggest it!
The Common Desk
Wondering what to bring to your session? I like to make sure to get lots of portraits and headshots of the business owner, I do recommend the business owner to pack their “tools of the trade” for their branding session. I want to document how the business owner works in their business (i.e. if the business owner is a fitness coach I will document them working with a client, demoing meal prep, etc.) If you are uncertain of what this could look like for your session, we will dive into a pre-shoot branding questionnaire which can help you take a deeper look at what “tools and items” to pack for your session!
HINT: Think through items you would like to have as filler photos for your website and social media.
People love behind the scenes content. There's just something about pulling back the curtain on what you do that is fascinating. So think about what your behind the scenes looks like and how that could be photographed.
If you're a cake designer, let's shoot you designing a cake and bringing that design to life.
If you're a chef, let's get you prepping food (or having your assistant do it) so that we can photograph the meal in progress.
If you're an author, you may want to document how you get into the zone for writing your next book, brainstorming ideas, research, etc.
It may feel mundane or like "who cares?" but you'd be surprised. Think about how often you've stopped on a behind the scenes content for other businesses...
TIPS FOR LOOKING YOUR BEST
I'll the first to admit, I am NOT a professional stylist (which is why I recommend hiring one if you have no idea what to wear) but I have gathered some tips from other professional stylists over the years of doing branding photography which can help you better style your own session! Below are these tips and I hope they will help you plan out your session with confidence and ease!
find it fast
Heels lengthen legs but if your heels aren’t comfortable for walking, bring an extra pair of shoes to slip into in between shots.
Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. We love bright, neon dresses, but we don’t love the neon reflection they add to your complexion.
I often recommend avoiding patterns as a general rule, but larger patterns can be okay. It's best to avoid a narrow stripe or small checked pattern - the camera does not love these patterns.
for the ladies
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Statement jewelry is a great way to add color or pattern to a simple dress.
Lace and tulle look amazing in photographs.
And dresses with lace sleeves are a great way to help slim arms. Depending on your location, you might want to consider a fit and flare or a flowy dress!
They look great in walking and photos with movement. Choose an outfit you feel comfortable in, but don’t be afraid to dress up!
for the ladies
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Branding sessions are the perfect time for a hair and makeup! Professionally done hair & makeup will give you an unexpected boost of confidence, making you feel ready for your big shoot.
I think it’s so important that you look and feel your best for your branding photos, so if you're not accustomed to doing your own hair and makeup - consider hiring a professional.
Now, if you really don't wear a lot of makeup on a regular day, and want to do it yourself, be sure to put it on a bit heavier than every day makeup as the camera will pull color from your face.
for the ladies
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There will probably be times during your session when we’re shooting your hands writing in a notebook or typing at the computer. This means it would be a good idea to check your nails before your branding session.
Consider getting a manicure or painting your nails a neutral shade of pink. Or, if you have a signature nail color you wear all the time, by all means do that!
for the ladies
This is something many photographers (and business owners) neglect when they are planning out their personal branding session, and this is something that I want all of my clients to keep top of mind: is there a permit needed to shoot at your desired location?
The last thing I would want is for us to be in the middle of a session and for a person to stop the session because there wasn’t a permit secured to shoot. In the beginning stages of your branding session, always secure a permit at your desired location, yes it sometimes costs extra money, but it is always respectful & responsible to be mindful of any rules and regulations!
(say a little prayer for good weather!)
Because of the nature of branding sessions, I am normally photographing my clients indoors in their office, studio, or specific location. However, some clients do have businesses which feature outdoor workspaces as well (like gardening, or farming, etc.) So, in the event you know you are wanting (and needing) to photograph your branding session outdoors (because again even the settings will showcase what you do and who you serve) then we will need to schedule one primary date and a rain date for your branding session. Having two dates helps us make sure that your photos happen in a timely manner.
I will check in the week of your branding session to confirm the time & location we’re meeting and the weather. We know it takes a lot of time to get ready for a branding session and it’s the worst to get dressed up and drive out to your session only to have it rain. I typically try to make the call at least 12 hours in advance.
When it comes to posing for your branding session, you don’t need to worry about a thing! I will guide you through the entire process beginning with “poses” that are super easy and natural. If I tell you to do something that feels a little funny, it’s probably because I know it’s going to make the you laugh - and that’s the photo I'm actually looking for.
Throughout your session, I will keep an eye on your hair, makeup and outfits to make sure things stay in place. I want you to feel as relaxed as possible and enjoy your branding session!
Your business is more than just you. Your personal branding session is where we are going to dig into the storylines that make your business unique and one-of-a-kind. This portion of the planning process for your branding session will take some time, but the very last thing I would want for your session is this: for you to show up at the session and expect me to take headshots of you holding your computer.
That’s so boring and super vanilla. Everyone does that, and we are NOT going to do that. You are uniquely gifted, talented and have SO much to offer to the world and we are going to capture the facets of your business visually in your branding session!
The moment you’ve been waiting for...your gorgeous (and elevated) branding images for your business!
Here is my normal timeline of events when it comes to delivering your personal branding photos:
-I like to post a sneak peek within 1-2 days after our session together
-I will send over your entire gallery within 21 days after your session
-I will blog about your session within 60 days of working with you (because like to highlight the businesses I work with)
-I will send over a photo release and next steps of how to use your images with your gallery of images
So now that you’ve gotten your beautifully curated branding photos, now what? Instead of posting the same rotation of photos on your social media platforms you now will have an arsenal of content to use on multimedia channels!
Before your session, it is vital to communicate what your expectations are of how you will be using these photos so that I (as a photographer) can walk into your session fully informed and ready to deliver not only several storylines, but several different formats of the same pose so that you can repurpose those photos across various platforms to market your business.
An extra step to make these photos more “evergreen” is to wear various outfits throughout your session (so you're not wearing that ONE outfit in all your photos), have different backdrops, and use different props that pertain to specific times of the year!
Remember, the biggest thing you can do to prepare for your session is to fill out the pre-shoot questionnaire so that I know exactly how to personalize your branding session to truly reflect you as a business owner and get the photos that you need to promote your business and attract your ideal clients. Use this guide as a framework to help you better visualize the process. I hope it helps you start the process of preparing for your branding session (and it helps spark some ideas)! However if there is something I missed, or you need a recommendation feel free to email me at: