6 Questions to Ask When Planning Your Brand Photoshoot | Austin Brand Photographer

If you are an entrepreneur, you likely know how great brand photography can be for your business. It creates credibility and authority, aids in creating brand cohesion, helps you connect with your clients, and makes your social media look on fleek! 

Now you think you are ready to get some brand photos, right? The thing is, it’s not as simple as getting regular portraits. Brand photography is more complex, requires some planning and can be pretty expensive. You might even be stuck scratching your head at all of the overwhelming factors involved in brand photography. There are so many questions- where do you even start?

So, really, the most important place to start is by answering this question: 

1. Are you really ready for branding photography?

A good branding photographer is not cheap, so it’s really important that you evaluate if you’re ready for the investment. Is your branding developed well-enough? If you haven’t got a hand on your target market, brand values and other marketing foundations, you could essentially be throwing money down the drain. 

If you think the answer to the above question is “yes,” then you might also want to consider answering the following questions: 

2. Do you have a general idea of the content you will be posting alongside your photos? 

Knowing the type of social media posts, website copy, sales page copy and other content can be helpful when planning a brand photo session. This will help you align your images to your other content and allow you to tell a compelling narrative that makes sense. Also, knowing what type of stock photography you will use alongside your branding photos is important to ensure they fit aesthetically. 

This is something your brand photographer should be asking you somewhere in the process. It is something that you should be willing and ready to share with the photographer to ensure that your photos will be relevant to what your future content will be. 

3. When choosing a photographer, do they understand the differences in branding/commercial photography versus other types of photography?

If your photographer’s niche is wedding, newborn photography or another type of portrait photography, they may not understand what differences there are in photographing for brands. It’s important that they listen to your needs and can adapt. 

For example- portrait photographers may have a habit of shooting in vertical portrait mode a lot. While this is acceptable your photos, you might also need a lot more horizontal photos for your website, and the photographer needs to make a conscious effort to shoot horizontal. 

Also, there are different requirements when it comes to crediting photos. Some photographers may require you to credit them when using a photo they took. In brand photography, many brands and businesses want to skip the photographer crediting for whatever reason. This should be an acceptable request for the photographer to deal with in brand photography. The idea is, the photographer will be charging you enough money to permit you to use and license the photo without crediting the creator. Some photographers may even completely sell you the copyright so you have full ownership. This may be a costly option, though. 

In portrait photography, photographers often edit in a signature style and use particular presets with all their clients so it is important that the photographer has some kind of understanding of the editing style you require, especially if it is different from their own style. Some photographers may be willing to edit photos differently than this signature style so that it fits your brand aesthetic better. Or, the photographer might be willing to let you edit a RAW image so that you can edit it with the presets you need to. Photographers get very touchy about this- but if they are shooting for brands it might not be that big of a deal. Be sure to discuss this with the photographer. 

4. How can you translate your brand stories/values/messaging into authentic images?

Because we have the opportunity to share so much on social media, it also means that we have to curate what we’re sharing so that it makes sense to our audiences. A great way to do this is through storytelling of some sort. It doesn’t have to be some long, exaggerated narrative, but it does need to have a purpose. The purpose should be directly related to your company values, branding, purpose or your brand’s personality. 

Ask yourself how those stories translate into images. You can be telling the same story as every other brand out there- but you have an opportunity to make it different by thinking about your brand purpose, goals and the personality you show to your audience. 

For example- you are health and wellness coach. While this is a competitive area, you can set yourself apart by using your stories to explain your core values. 

If you value body positivity, you can use stories about your past struggles with this. If this is a common theme, you should definitely consider using this as a subject for your photoshoot. Planning photos for this theme might involve vulnerable photos of you that prove your body-positive attitude. It might actually involve photos of other women- models or clients, whatever, that display the body positive attitude. Just because you are a personal brand does not mean that the shoot is limited to just your face. 

Also, It’s possible to use a theme that is vague and common and turn it into something that closely related to YOUR brand. 

For example- If you value being a mother and like to talk about motherhood in your brand- there are many ways you could highlight this as a story through photos, depending on your values and personality. 

You could, of course, take photos of you playing with your children. But even further, the context of the photo can be even more specific to what you do. 

You could have photos of you working while they play to exhibit the balance of motherhood and career. 

If you’re silly and satirical- you could highlight the craziness of them getting ready. 

If you value freedom from a 9 to 5- You could have photos taken of you traveling with your family to show a freedom aspect of your business. 

If you’re a food blogger, you could take photos of them preparing a meal with you. 

These are just a few examples of how you can personalize even the most common stories and use your current branding aspects to turn them into authentic photos. 

5. What types of props will you need in order to properly illustrate a story?

I LOVE props. Props are pretty much a necessity for brand photography, for a number of reasons. Props help tell your story, give you something to work with when you’re posing, create context, and often become conversation starters (both during the shoot and on social media). Props are also an excellent way to make a statement that defines you and your brand. 

Some of my favorite props to incorporate are t-shirts, flowers and coffee mugs. These are fairly universal props to use, just about anyone can get away with using one of those three in their photos.

T-shirts are a really great way to display words or phrases that your brand is all about- the same with coffee mugs. They are easily customizable and can be lots of fun. 

Flowers are an awesome opportunity to display your brand colors. Not only that, but they are an excellent way to insert some subconscious branding. In our society, specific flowers often hold meanings of their own. For instance- when you see a sunflower you might think of happiness, sunshine or some sort of hippie-love stuff. When you see a rose, you might think of romance or love. 

Using what your audience already knows about an object in the photo makes it easier for them to understand what you are trying to say, so using props is a great idea.

6. What locations will work best for your photos? 

Locations can be a really big deal for some brands, for others maybe not so much. The locations where you take your brand photos could depend on a number of things. The list below includes a few of the important things that could make a difference when choosing a location for your photoshoot.

Some factors to consider when choosing a location:

-How intimate you are with your audience/how much you want to share (you may not be letting people into your house and life, and that’s ok)

-The time and duration of the photoshoot

-Your shyness (eyes on you during your shoot is REALLY common, if you are really shy it might be really hard for you to open up/relax)

-Will your props be allowed/appropriate at the location 

-Your future content and brand storytelling (really helpful when you know this)

-The weather (having a backup plan is really important, especially if anyone is traveling for the shoot)

-The lighting (if it is too dark or there are yellow lights, it can be an eyesore)

-The cost (it can get expensive to rent places but it might be worth it, especially for a long shoot, bad weather months, if you or the photographer have traveled, etc.) 

-How busy the area is (interruptions can be annoying for both parties)

-If the locations allow for photography (some coffee shops are glad to open their doors, others may not be, ASK first)

Keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list of all the factors, but they are key aspects in planning your photoshoot! Once you are able to answer these questions, you will be well-on your way to a great photoshoot that makes your branding strong, credible and unique!

If you’re looking for a tool in helping you plan your brand photoshoot, I have just the freebie you are looking for! Click here to sign up to receive my Trello brand photoshoot planner, which includes a BONUS print-friendly workbook as well!

Happy planning!!