How to prepare for your personal branding shoot - 5 Top Tips

headshots

So if you have booked a personal branding session (or are thinking of booking one) then you may be wondering what is involved and how to prepare for it.

It’s certainly worth putting some thought into the session beforehand as this will help you get the most out of our time on the day.

Your shoot includes a pre-session phone consultation with me, when we can take time to discuss your business and your brand, the key shots that you are after, what location might work best and what you might wear.

These tips should also help you prepare and ensure that all goes smoothly on the day!

1. Brand analysis

It’s really worth doing some research beforehand and thinking about your brand, what it means and what messages you would like to convey.

Have a think about…

  • Who your ideal client is, can you describe them?
  • What makes your business unique?
  • Your personality and how you want to come across to your clients
  • Your brand colours and the overall look and feel that you would like to create for your website and marketing

We can use all this information to help create a portfolio of images to showcase your brand.

2. Create a Pinterest board

If you’re familiar with Pinterest then this is a great way to create a visual ‘mood board’ of the sorts of images you would like to take away from your branding session.

Search Pinterest for images that appeal to you and align well with your brand. You can then create a board which can be shared with others. This should also help prompt ideas for location and what to wear.

3. Choose a suitable location

Your personal branding session is bespoke to you so we can choose the most suitable location, depending on you and your business. I can travel to you if you work from home or have a studio that you would like to incorporate for example.

Otherwise we can choose another setting that will help to reflect your brand. It could be somewhere rural or more urban. There are lots of options for a great backdrop in Sevenoaks or Tunbridge Wells for example. We may even be able to use a local café if we call ahead for permission.

Again, we can discuss location options during your phone consultation and I’m more than happy to suggest places that may be suitable.

4. Create a shot list

So by this stage you should be ready to create a shot list which is really useful for keeping everyone on track during the day (the time can go very quickly!).

Have a think about where and how you will be using the images. Do you need any wide banner-style images for your website for example? Or perhaps you need a new profile image for LinkedIn or some new images for sharing on Instagram.

Make sure you prioritise the list so that we start with the most important shots.  An example shot list might include:

  • head and shoulders image
  • medium headshot, waist upwards
  • sitting at desk, working on laptop
  • relaxed shot on the sofa
  • working in the studio
  • close up of hands while working
  • lifestyle shots of your workplace.

5. Plan what to wear, and your hair and make-up

It’s really worth having a think about what you will wear as this can make a big difference to the overall look and feel of your images.

Everyone has their own style so wear what you feel suits you. It’s also really important to feel comfortable with what you are wearing on the day.

I usually suggest bringing a couple of options for your upper half so that you can change your look during the session. This will give you more variety in your images overall.

Here are a few top tips:

  • It’s best to avoid very bold stripes and patterns (subtle patterns are fine)
  • Avoid wearing all white or all black if you can, as these colours are tricky to photograph well.
  • Off-white/cream, neutral or other seasonal colours are all fine.
  • Bring along a few accessories such as a scarf, necklace or earrings.
  • Try to bring one piece of clothing (or even a scarf) with some colour in as that can really add to the images and helps contrast with a plain background.
  • If you have a particular ‘brand’ colour then think about incorporating this into your clothing as well.

It’s worth thinking about the season too whether spring/summer or autumn/winter as different colour palettes work well in different seasons.

In terms of hair and make up, some clients are happy doing their own hair and make up which is absolutely fine. I would recommend wearing your usual make up on the day.

If you would like your hair and make up done professionally then I can recommend a local make up artist, Deborah from Hall of Fame Styling who has done make up for many of my previous clients.

Many thanks to Hattons of Tunbridge Wells for permission to use their cafe for some of the photos above.

Any questions?

I hope this article was useful but if you have any more questions or are thinking about booking a branding shoot then do get in touch, I would love to hear from you! You’ll find all my contact details here.


The other side of the lens...

headshots

So I had been thinking about booking a shoot with another photographer for a while, partly to experience being the other side of the lens for a change and also to get some proper photos of the girls and me together so that I’d have them to look back on (I’m not in that many family photos as you can probably imagine as I’m usually the one holding the camera!). So when I saw that Kay Young was offering mini sessions over half term, I Jumped at the chance and booked a session. I have trained with Kay before and love her work, she does portraits and weddings and has a beautiful fine art style.

I​ actually really enjoyed the experience and learnt a lot from it. As I’m usually in the photographer’s shoes, it was enlightening to experience the shoot from the client’s point of view. I thought I would write a bit about my experience here and hopefully this might also help prepare some of you for a forthcoming shoot, if you are thinking of booking a session soon…

Preparation

So the mini session was booked for an afternoon during October half term. In the back of my mind I had been thinking about what we might wear, however on the morning of the shoot itself, I felt completely indecisive and ended up throwing quite a selection of outfits in the bag as I just couldn’t decide. Also having little time left to do the girl’s hair (three girls, it takes a while!), I threw hairbrushes and a selection of hair accessories into the bag too, hoping for the best.

This might all sound like a lot of fuss over nothing, but I know Kay’s gorgeous style and I wanted to make sure we all looked our best. After all, I want to look back and enjoy the photos for many years to come. Another reason for booking a professional photographer is that you make more effort with clothing than you would when you’re usually out and about which of course makes for the images being that bit more special.

So I’m now much more aware of the time it takes to get ready and my advice would be – think about what you are going to wear in advance and leave enough time on the day to get everyone prepared! Many of the families that I photograph typically have much younger children than my own so you may also need to allow time for last minute potty trips/nappy changes/packing essential comfort toys as required. Not forgetting preparing a few drinks and snacks just in case, as hungry children do not make good subjects of course!

Arrival for the shoot

When we arrived at Kay’s house, she immediately put everyone at ease. We chatted for a bit about photography (obviously, could chat all day about that) and she helped with our final outfit selection. A quick hairbrush and we were on our way…

The shoot itself

I find the girls quite hard to photograph myself these days (much harder than other people’s children) as they are really not interested. I am always trying to take their photo and the novelty for them has long worn off. So I was hoping they would respond better to someone they didn’t know photographing them. And fortunately they did…. but not for long! Kay has a lot of experience photographing children of all ages and she is amazingly quick. The girls had probably had enough after about half an hour and started to play up. Fortunately, Kay had already got plenty of shots in the bag by then so we could relax (and possibly a little bit of bribery on my part might have been involved!).

I loved watching her work and was intrigued to find that she was using an 85mm 1.2 lens for most of the shoot, coupled with a 135mm f2 lens. I don’t have a 135mm lens (yet) but I love my 85mm lens (I have the 1.8 version) and find I’m finding myself using it more and more. All these are prime lenses so have a fixed focal length but they are generally smaller and lighter than zoom lenses and if you find one that you love then you can get away without using zooms at all.

Here are a few of my favourite images from the session…

When the girls had had enough, we moved to another location close-by for a few last photos. Kay had some tricks up her sleeve, like glitter which the girls had fun with towards the end of the shoot, creating images like this…

Headshots

Kay also offered to take some headshots for me which I was thrilled about as I needed some updated headshots for my website and social media. This was a good experience again as I do a lot of professional headshots myself so it’s good to experience being the other side of the camera. I must admit to feeling a little self-conscious and struggling with whether to smile and how much to smile! I know we all feel like this when our photo is being taken (especially if it’s a photo of just yourself), so as the photographer, I try to put people at ease by chatting to them and even trying to make them laugh and giggle. You might not want to be smiling in all your photos, but it’s good to get a variety and laughter always makes for a very natural expression. You can find out more details about my headshot sessions here.

After the shoot

After the shoot we went back to Kay’s house for a bit (the image below was taken outside her front door) to gather our things. She showed me some examples of her fine art prints and we discussed when the images would be ready and what was included in the mini session package. After a bit more photography chat we said our thank yous and headed off home.

Delivery of prints and images

I must admit to being very excited about receiving the images. The last time I booked a professional shoot was when the girls were very little and before I got into photography myself. I’m so happy that I still have that excitement and becoming a photographer hasn’t changed this.

Kay sent me through the images on a gallery to choose from. As you can imagine, I was delighted with them all and I ended up buying most of the digitals, allowing me to share them and make my own prints. She also included one fine art print in the package which I’ll have framed and put up on the wall.

I’ve just ordered some art blocks using the black and white images of the girls which will go up in our hallway and a large multi-aperture frame which I will now be offering to all the families that have photo sessions with me (details to follow once the samples arrive).

Top tips

So if you are thinking about booking a photo session or have one coming up, my top tips would be….

  • Put some thought into what you are going to wear beforehand as clothing can make all the difference to the final images.

  • Allow plenty of time to get ready for the shoot on the day (especially if you have girls!) including choosing outfits and doing hair.

  • Pack plenty of snacks and water to keep the children going just in case they get hungry or for a comfort break during the session.

  • Relax and enjoy the session itself and let the photographer direct you. If you want any particular shots, then just say. It’s always useful for the photographer to know if the children have a favourite game, for example or if you’ve always wanted a shot of the family over that garden gate.

  • Order lots of prints from your session and frame them straight away. Wall art prints are also a lovely option to display your images. Don’t delay printing as you might not get around to it!

  • Finally enjoy looking at your images and sharing with friends and family. You will always have them to look back on and treasure for many years to come.

I am really pleased that I booked this session as I have some gorgeous images of all of us to treasure and keep. I hope this post is helpful and if you are thinking about booking a family or children’s session then do please get in touch for more details. I am planning some mini sessions similar to this one in the spring. Do keep an eye out for more info or get in touch if you would like me to email you with the details and dates.