Your personal brand is a lot more than just a headshot, and it certainly is NOT your logo. It’s a combination of the many facets that make you unique. And it is the visual first impression people have of you. Your personal brand shows the various aspects of who you are and visually tells your Brand Story.
When people Google you, what do you want them to find? There's no better way to get the right representation of YOU across than with a personal brand photoshoot. That is why I LOVE photographing my clients because I can use my skills to help others grow their own business.
It wasn't always so. When I was first introduced to the Personal Brand photoshoot concept a while ago, I had no idea of the preparation work that needed to be done with my clients. I was unsure of the image types required for the various digital media, how to pose my subjects, what clothes they should wear and what props to bring. This resulted in a lot of wasted time for my clients and myself while trying to figure out the various shots during the actual photoshoot. I made it my personal mission to find a way to streamline the Personal Brand photoshoot process for my client and myself.
Fast forward to 2019 and I can say with confidence that I have the Personal Brand photoshoot process under total control. I understand that each Personal Brand shoot has different goals and purpose and, with the help of my Pre-Consultation questionnaire and Personal Branding Photoshoot Guide, I make sure I understand my clients' needs so that we are both fully prepared as to which shots are required when I pick my camera up.
So whether you just booked a photo shoot with me (yay – can’t wait!) or someone else, I’m going to pick my 7 top tips so you can prepare to get the most out of your shoot:
1. Know Your WHY
"Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room" - Amazon's Jeff Bezos
Make a list of your goals for the photoshoot. Without having a clear intent, you can't be sure that your photos will achieve the desired result.
Are you re-branding?
Are you launching a new service, ebook, course, or product?
Or are you about to launch your first business and need photos that attract your dream customer?
Define what you want your personal brand to be. Get clarity on what your strengths are, and
what you want to communicate with your images. Think about what you want your friends, clients or colleagues to say about you, and pick the five words that best describe you. Focus on your qualities and how you want people to feel when they meet you.
Once you know the WHY, you can start mapping out the details that will visually bring your reason to life.
2. Know Your WHERE
Identify all the places where you will need different photos. It could be both on digital and printed platforms. For example: you might need a banner image for your newsletter or landing page, detailed shots of your products for an online course, or personalised stock images for your sales page or blog. Think of your website pages, social media spaces, blogs, book cover, pamphlets etc..
Images for the web need to be WIDE (This was the biggest lesson for me). Before understanding the process fully, I ended up with a ton of beautiful images taken in Portrait mode, and not enough in Landscape mode. The result? A lot of those portrait images could not be used as intended for blogs or Facebook ads.
By keeping the WHERE in mind when planning your personal brand photoshoot, you'll have a range of content that will suit all of your marketing needs.
3. Create a Mood Board
Your choice in clothing, accessories, makeup, facial expression, hair style, posture, eye contact, and setting all send non-verbal cues about your personality. They can tell a viewer even subconsciously about how various attributes about yourself: confidence, trustworthy, friendly, down-to-earth, enthusiastic, peaceful, compassionate, creative, powerful, professional, experienced, etc.
Bearing the above in mind, a mood board is a visual way to display the look you want for your brand. It will also help your photographer know what you are looking for and help you with styling for your shoot.
Where is the best place to get inspiration for mood boards? Pinterest!
This is how to do it:
Create a new Pinterest board and fill it with images that you LOVE. What stands out to you?
What’s your personal style already like? Find images that represent that.
Add color palettes that resonate with you and represent your brand.
Find objects that help to communicate the message you want to send to your clients.
Collect pictures of the types of shots and poses that you need.
The mood board will help your photographer to be on the same page as you to get the images you want.
4. What to Wear
Your choice of outfit can make or break your personal brand photoshoot. As mentioned in the previous point, your outfits will communicate to your audience who you are, what you stand for and your brand's message.
What do your clothes say about you?
Casual, professional, natural, spiritual, funky.
Make sure your attire, accessories and makeup feel like you and express the personality traits you want to highlight and make sense with your story.
Go into your closet and pull every item that matches or compliments your brand colors.
Next, think about accessories that can help you further your message.
Choose items that make you feel comfortable, confident and scream YOU.
5. Practice Your Facial Expressions and Your Poses
Your friends might disagree but your signature selfie pout is not going to cut it at your professional branding photoshoot (Awww!). You will need a variety of poses and facial expressions for your social media posts, promos, blogs etc..
A quick tip? Find someone you admire and whose poses and demeanor you'd like to simulate. Find as many photos of this person(s) as you can and save them in a separate folder.
Now it's practice time! Get dressed in your photoshoot outfit and stand in front of a mirror. Practice different poses, find your groove and favourite angle. Mimic your muse if you get stuck with ideas.
Now for your facial expressions:
Practice smiling with your whole body, not just your mouth.
When you smile, think of something or someone that brings you joy, and feel your eyes light up and a lightness come across your body.
This is the contagious kind of smile people feel when looking at your photos.
Even with a subtle smile, the eyes can shine from the heart and really connect with someone looking at your website.
Look directly into the camera as if you’re connecting with your audience and feeling the mutual respect and compassion for each other.
Your photographer should take some candid shots as well - the shots the photographer takes of you caught in the moment, laughing, or walking, or telling your story to someone.
Practice with different emotions eg. confused, shocked, surprised
By practicing and adding a variety of poses to your arsenal, you'll feel more confident during your photoshoot and less awkward in front of the photographer.
But don't stress out if you're struggling to find what works for you.
A good photographer will always direct you and help you find the right angles to bring out your inner boss.
6. Hire a Professional Photographer
It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter. – Alfred Eisenstaedt
I strongly believe in the above quote. Find a photographer that is a great fit for you. Ask trusted colleagues for references if you think their photographs work well.
Once you have a few names, look at their online portfolio - do you like their style? Send them an email and start a conversation. You'll want to work with someone who understands your vision and wants to help you grow your business.
You’ll want to feel comfortable and relaxed with them for the best shots, but also want to
find someone who will help guide you to find your best angles and help loosen you up to
capture candid moments. They should be willing to meet you for coffee or have a video conference call if you so wish.
Some other points to consider: What is included in a photo session package?
Do you get a USB with digital files? How will you get your final images?
Do you get an online gallery with your images that you then have to select and pay for individually?
If you want extra photos, how much are they each?
How long are sessions and do they charge by the hour or for a package?
Do they shoot in digital or film?
Do they include photo retouching?
Are your photos for you to keep and use as you’d like, or do they charge a license fee to use the photos for commercial purposes?
What rights are you buying with the photos you receive?
What’s your budget and how much does the photographer charge for what you need?
7. Relax and Prepare
All the steps above will be pointless if you have a hectic night before your shoot. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before to feel well rested. Drink plenty of water and avoid greasy food and alcohol the night before to have your skin look it’s best and not feel dehydrated (amongst other side effects ;-)
On the day of the shoot, let yourself have a great time with your photographer! It will show in your photos and you’ll have a fun memory of the process. That's when you know you've created a winning brand style :-)