I recently received final files from my summer branding photoshoot with Ashley Carrington Photography and let me tell you: I am SO excited about the value that this shoot is bringing to my content and website! I’m also extremely excited about the strategy Ashley & I took toward planning this shoot, because it was the most perfect mix of laid-back and organized. Today, we’re diving into a BTS look at how I planned my photos, the photos I recommend my branding & website clients include in their shoots, how we made the shoot fun, and some fun ways I’m using branded photos in my content lately!
But First: Do I NEED Brand Photography?
If it’s within your business budget, I highly recommend investing in brand photography when you 1) have professional branding or rebranding done, 2) add team members/expand your business, 3) add a new offering, or 4) update your website.
Thoughtful photography creates a more cohesive brand overall – you can use it everywhere from social media to your website to your email signature. Peek at the example below – the photos absolutely made Murray Nutrition’s website the second we plugged them in! It took our draft from being pretty good to stellar with just a few clicks, and I really don’t think there’s any stock photography we could have used for more impact than these gorgeous photos of their team!
Planning a Branding Photoshoot
I set out to write an incredibly detailed list of shots to get during this photoshoot, and guess what? It was horrible to try and write without being in the moment. Unless you have a very specific product/service you’re launching, you probably don’t need a detailed shot list. Here’s what I did instead of listing everything out:
Created a Pinterest board with inspiration
Not only did I just make a board with shots/styling I loved, I shared it with my photographer ahead of time and brought my iPad to my shoot so we could reference it quickly.
Hired a Great Photographer
Seems obvious, but sometimes it’s not – I specifically hired a photographer who has done branding photoshoots before, so that she could guide our planning and the shoot itself. I started by browsing Google (including image search) and Instagram for things like #stlbrandingphotographer, narrowed it down, submitted some inquiries, and had a call with Ashley before booking!
Brainstormed a Quick List of Photo Uses
I knew I wanted to completely overhaul my website using brand photography, so I brought several outfits (I think I ended up in 4-5 different options) and requested as much variety as Ashley could give me! Think: up close, zoomed out, looking away, smiling at the camera, etc. I also wanted photos that were usable for social media, so we grabbed a couple of me working, sipping coffee (my natural state), etc.
Communicated My Must-Haves
I had this absolute dream of having a set of confetti-throwing photos for use on socials, confirmation pages, etc. I also needed a photo ideal for profile pictures, and some wide shots for canvas backgrounds and landing pages. Everything else was sprinkles on top, and it allowed us to focus on making sure those were the shots we absolutely nailed!
Must-Have Branding Photo Shots
If you’re feeling intimidated by a full photoshoot just for you, here’s some ideas for shots to get you started!
- Traditional headshots
- Candid-style headshots (looking away from camera)
- Photos of your process (working on your laptop, sitting in a chair like you’re in session, etc.)
- Up close photos of items (your hands typing, holding a mug, flatlay of your desk)
How to Get Photos You LOVE
This is my third branding photoshoot since launching my first business in 2017, and it was definitely the best experience! I’ve had the pleasure of working with a different, fabulous photographer for each shoot but this was the first time I sat down to think about how I really use my photos, what I do/don’t like about being photographed, and hyped myself up to make requests!
Far and away, the best thing I did was bring a tiny speaker and stream the Eras Tour setlist while we worked through photos! Ashley & I both love some Taylor Swift, and it 1) filled in the quiet studio, 2) created fun vibes, and 3) made it so easy to get comfortable since we were periodically singing along or discussing music!
Get Strategic with Clothing
I also made it a point to wear my least favorite outfit first, because I know it takes me a while to get warmed up in front of the camera – I didn’t want to “waste” my favorite outfits on the less-natural smiles & setup I knew we’d get at first!
Invest in Your Setting
If you have the financial means within your business, I highly recommend scouting out a local studio or AirBnB to shoot in (that’s what I did for my 2018 branding shoot above)! Your photographer will likely be able to recommend some locations as well. I decided to rent a space for photos after noticing that all of my pinned inspiration was set in light, white, airy spaces – which is a little different than the darker & tree-shaded home I live in.
For this shoot, Ashley and I met up at 20th Street Studios and I brought along a few little props – but honestly, I didn’t need much! Perks of using a space specifically set up for photography.
For locations, you can look at:
- Photography studios
- A family member or friend’s house
- Your office (highly recommend if you’re someone who has an office space that clients come to – read why here!)
How I’m Using Branding Photos
I’m having so much fun plugging new photos into all of my content – I feel like I’ve found a million ways to use them and haven’t even truly dove in yet! So far, they’ve been used for Reels covers, updated profile photos, website updates, and some projects coming up!
Bonus Idea: Shoot Video!
A fun idea that I didn’t think of in time & regret: set up your phone in a corner to record some of the photoshoot for B-roll style clips you can use in Reels! Not only do I wish I’d done this for content purposes, but I’d pay good money to see what it looked like for Ashley & I to shoot photos of my hands typing (aka, her basically standing on my shoulders while I pulled a muscle keeping my head out of the shot).