Whether you’re hiring a photographer or doing a DIY photoshoot with your friends, in this article, we’re going over how to art direct your own personal brand photoshoot so that you looked totally polished, on point, and on-brand!
Let’s get into it.
Why Having a Personal Brand Photoshoot Matters
Brand photography immediately levels up your entire presence, your whole brand. It makes you look more polished, more expensive, all of the things that capture someone’s attention and make you look legit.
But, we don’t all have the budget for personal brand photography. You may be doing it yourself, or even if you’re working with a brand photographer, you’ll want to take these extra steps to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth in a shoot.
8 Steps to plan the Perfect Photoshoot for your Brand!
Now, I am not a photographer. I’m not going to give you photography tips for how to take photos; instead, I’m going to help you plan a photoshoot so that all of the colors, look, feel, and pictures you get are on-brand for your brand.
I’ve directed photoshoots for clients and have had several professional and quite a few DIY photoshoots of my own. So I have a lot of experience with this, and I’ll share some tips that make it super easy for the average person to step up their brand photoshoot game!
1. Set goals with use cases in mind
The first thing you need to think about is what the goals of the shoot are. Basically, what do you need this content for? Are you using it for social media or your website? Do you need a headshot?
You need to go into a personal brand photoshoot aware of the use cases for the content, as that impacts the types of shots you need, how many you need, what sizes, and any other factors.
If you just want a headshot, you might want something a little bit more buttoned-up, which is pretty standard. But, if you’re shooting for the ‘gram and you know that you’re going to need to post a photo every day for the next three months, then you’ll need quality AND quantity.
For high-use content like that, you’ll likely want to include things like lifestyle shots with and without you in them, different variants of the same poses, wardrobe changes, or even multiple sets. Different needs call for different variables, how many photos you need, and the types of shots.
2. Define the mood of the shoot
List out some adjectives that you want to capture in this shoot. Be sure to factor in your brand personality. If you don’t have that defined, you can always check out my article on how to do it, because this is a great time to map that out.
Basically, you want to know the vibe you’re trying to create with your brand in general AND in this specific shoot (especially if it’s for something like a one-off campaign).
For example, I did one that was very sexy, mysterious, and provocative–even though it was for my business.
You want to be true to yourself, whatever that entails!
3. Get brainstorming!
It’s brainstorming time. Start by pulling examples of photoshoots and imagery you like. They could be from magazines, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
Sometimes the style of shoot you’re going for can help you determine the best places to find references. For example, I focused more on magazines when I wanted something more editorial-looking.
Just start collecting different photos that resonate with you, whether it’s the photography style, the outfits, the pose(s), the colors, the aesthetic, or the overall mood. Pull as many examples as you can!
4. Plan your location! location! location!
The next step is to plan your location(s). Now, you might be balling on a budget, and I totally know that life. Don’t worry; you don’t need a super fancy location to have an awesome photoshoot. My last photoshoot took place in my friend’s garage with a white backdrop (you can find it on Amazon here). It was super cheap, and it worked out great!
- If you have a photoshoot-ready home or workspace – go with that!
- If you don’t, like me, then sometimes all you need is a blank wall.
- Outside is also a great option! Go into nature!
- Find a wall in front of a business (we’re spoiled with good walls in LA).
I promise you can make it work whatever your budget; don’t be afraid to keep it simple. Just look to your reference points for the type of vibe you’re trying to capture, think about what is feasible for you, and then start planning a few locations.
5. Plan Out Your Looks
It’s time to really play with your style and plan out the looks for your shoot. This includes your outfit, your hair, your makeup, all of that jazz.
Check your references
Take a look at the inspo you gathered, as you’ll likely find consistencies or patterns in them! You can compare these with your style, the vibe you’re going for, what you already have, and if there’s anything you’d like to buy.
I’m always pro using what you have vs. buying a whole wardrobe for every photo shoot, but if you want to splurge on stuff, go for it!
Pick 3-5 Looks
Generally, I like to pick out three to five outfits, but keeping in mind that photoshoots always take longer than you think. Shooting one outfit will likely a while, so you may not get them all (or plan for a long day if you’re set on including an array of looks).
Don’t feel pressure about what it should look like; it’s YOUR brand. You can range from really simple like a basic t-shirt to something over-the-top and extravagant, whatever fits your brand personality and the vibe you want to communicate to the world. Have fun with it!
I remember the first brand photoshoot I planned for myself. I kept finding myself really drawn to all-black outfits, even though, at the time, my branding was light, soft, and colorful. Now that I’ve rebranded, black is basically all I wear, and it’s funny looking back to how I was drawn to this style without even realizing it.
6. Pick your props!
This something you may not usually think about, but a great photoshoot should give you a lot to work with, and incorporating props can make a big difference.
This doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone or every photo shoot. I didn’t use them in my last one; it was just different outfits and me sitting on the ground – but it can often be a huge help to have things that help you set the scene!
Props are also great opportunities to be a little more on-brand by incorporating your brand colors or even your brand symbols.
- Plants or home decor
- Work materials (laptop, mood boards, journal, paint brushes, whatever you use)
- Your branded merch!
- Symbols or art that tie to your brand
Grab at any opportunity to add those special touches and make it even more on-brand.
7. Make A Shot List
You absolutely need to plan a shot list aka a list of specific poses, scenes or “shots” that are must-haves. Photoshoots without them are just never as successful as those where you go in with a clear idea of how you want your poses and images to look.
References to the rescue
Again, this is where those reference photos come into play. Look through them for any styles, poses, or imagery that inspires or aligns with your band; anything where you’re like, “Yes, I need something like that!” Use those references as well as your imagination and make your list.
Leave room for the magic
Now, you don’t want to totally plan it out to the point where there’s no room to be creative or spontaneous. However, it’s important to figure out the vibe you want and any non-negotiable poses. You may even want to practice these to see how they look and feel. This helps make sure it’s what you want and gives you references when it’s time for the real thing, that you don’t have to go off memory. Visuals are always handy.
Plan out some poses, make a shot list of what you absolutely must have, and then have fun!
8. Have Fun, and You Do You!
These things are supposed to be fun! You’ve officially done all the prep you can. Now you just need to show up on the day, get even more beautiful than you already are, and play with it!
Set the mood
Do whatever pumps you up and helps get you in the mood, like playing music. My last shoot may or may not have involved a little tequila… whatever it takes to hype yourself up, get comfortable, have a good time!
Let “YOU” shine through
Most importantly, remember to always be yourself. This is supposed to be a pure moment of self-expression and who you are. You WANT to capture your personality, so don’t be afraid to let it shine. Get silly, be playful, dance, experiment with poses – let it all out, and just have fun! I guarantee you that fun and your personality will shine through, and you’ll end up with amazing photos.
Hopefully, this has helped you learn how to approach your very own personal brand photoshoot because I promise you the results will be transformational for the look and feel of your brand.
Need a little help making a mood board for your next shoot? Check out my article on how to do just that, and download my mood board template below!
Try My Canva Brand Moodboard Template
Canva is an easy-to-use (and free!) tool that will make creating moodboards a breeze! I’ve created a simple moodboard template to get you started.