As an entrepreneur or content creator, your personal brand is the key to establishing a strong and authentic connection with your audience. And one of the most impactful ways to visually express your brand is through a well-planned and thoughtfully executed personal branding photoshoot. From showcasing your unique story to conveying your brand’s values, a successful photo shoot can help you create a lasting impression that resonates with your target audience.
Not starting with why can lead to a mismatch in the photographer you hire, underwhelming end photos, and unrealistic expectations for what can be accomplished in the allocated shoot time and within your budget.
Starting with why clarifies the purpose of the shoot & the story you want to convey through the imagery & videography. Engaging imagery & video tell a story, and while the typical headshot is always needed, you want to ensure you’re getting a wide range of shots, so you have versatility beyond an image of you holding a laptop and smiling.
As a personal brand, you have many integrating parts of your personal story that intertwine within your brand. Brand photography & videography is a great way to connect all those dots. Here are a few more questions to ask yourself that will help in the creative planning of the shoot:
If these questions are difficult to answer, I’d recommend working with a Brand Strategist before planning your shoot. Brand Strategy clarifies the brand’s deeper story, mission, and vision. A Brand Strategist can also help you create a creative brief that can be used in the photoshoot planning process. In the long run, your photos will turn out so much more intentional and won’t become something you quickly feel tired of.
I can’t say this enough – Create your mood board before hiring your photographer, videographer or booking a studio, even if you’ve had your eyes on someone or somewhere for a while.
Creating your mood board before hiring anyone allows you to showcase the creative vision you have & confirm with the photographer that this is something they can help you achieve. You may have a pattern of retouched photos or a specific editing style in your mood board that a photographer may not do (or charge extra for), or the lighting in the inspiration photos may need to be shot at a specific time of day.
These small details are beneficial for a photographer to know before booking your shoot. The mood board is a great way to communicate your expectations visually. You can create your Moodboard using a Pinterest board, Canva, or apps like GoMoodboard.com.
I prefer to use Pinterest because of the sub-board features. If you are going to use Pinterest, I recommend pinning any inspiration you like and then breaking it into these categories:
Will it just be you and the photographer? Do you want professional hair and makeup? Do you plan to have a videographer? Do you want a stylist to help you select a wardrobe & help you on set? A Creative Director and production team to help you execute everything from here?
You don’t necessarily need a large team for a successful shoot, but you may want to consider these things. I’ve had multiple successful shoots with just myself and the photographer, but these are still things you want to consider in the planning process.
Even with my corporate experience planning creative campaigns and styling fashion shows, I still like to hire a production team (The Fleurish House) to help me bring my creative vision to life.
Here is what a Creative Team might look like for a smaller shoot:
With the smaller creative team, you are taking on more responsibilities for the Shot List, Wardrobe, Props, Planning and scheduling the Shoot, and Hair and makeup artist.
Here is what a Creative Team typically looks like for a mid-size shoot:
The size of the team will depend on the purpose of the shoot, which is why it is so important to start there. I suggest contacting a few photographers, videographers, production teams, etc., in your area to clarify your budget.
I like booking a smaller shoot with the creative team about eight weeks in advance. Before inquiring with any creatives, I would select 2-3 shoot dates that work for you. This gives you flexibility when choosing the photographer, studio, and anyone you work with.
I’d begin the booking process about 12 weeks in advance for a mid-sized shoot. This allows for more time to select & purchase wardrobe, order or create props, and gives the creative team some breathing room when planning.
When it comes to booking, every photographer or creative team is different. What I typically see and recommend is booking in this order:
Plan your wardrobe at least eight weeks in advance to allow time to find pieces that fit well and represent the image you want to present in your photos. Here are a few things to consider when putting your wardrobe together:
Props allow you to bring in personalized or sentimental items that support the scenes you are setting. I often make props such as a skateboard with custom stickers of logos I’ve designed or a blazer that I hand-painted my logo & tagline on.
With props, it is best to list items you use daily and items that represent pieces of your brand story. Then, I think outside the box about how I can customize the items to fit my brand (such as getting your logo printed on an item). Feel free to customize your wardrobe, like the painted blazer mentioned.
Depending on the size of your creative team, the shot list, storyboards, and shoot day prep might already be taken care of for you. Even if you do not have a large creative team & it’s just you and a photographer, I highly recommend putting together your shot list.
Here is what I recommend including in your shot list:
If you are doing hair and makeup yourself, do a test run a few days before the shoot to practice (and test your makeup products). Remember to pack touchup makeup such as powder and lip products you may need on set.
If you are working with a videographer, you’ll want to storyboard the shots you’d like to get. A storyboard outlines the sequence of movements you’ll be doing in the video and can be added to the shot list.
If you are shooting with a studio, I like to contact them 72-48 hours before the shoot to confirm your arrival time, parking, and how to get into the studio.
A well-executed photoshoot goes beyond simply capturing images; it tells a story, conveys a message, and connects with your audience on a deeper level. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can lay the groundwork for a successful shoot that aligns with your brand’s vision and objectives. Remember, starting with why and collaborating with a creative team will help you achieve a cohesive and compelling visual narrative. So, take the time to plan, prepare, and communicate your vision effectively, and watch as your photoshoot becomes a powerful tool in elevating your personal brand.
Ready to take the next steps in elevating your brand? Inquire with Studio Kaly today!
Katelyn Alyssa is the Founder and Creative Director behind Studio Kaly – a Brand Strategy and design Consultancy born on the cliffs of San Diego, CA. With over 10 years of experience working with editorial brands, Katelyn brings an uncommon mix of strategy and creativity to the table when it comes to brand building.
September 8, 2023