We have all heard the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, this isn’t any less true about the pictures on your website. Visual content is the fastest way to tell your brand story and with it you will be able to connect to the reader in ways that written words cannot. This is why it is important to really plan out your brand photoshoot as it is a great opportunity for you to showcase who you are and what your brand is all about.
“Why can’t I just use all stock photos?” I hear you say. Stock photos can be good but they can also be limiting and impersonal. As they are infused with someone else’s feelings and emotions, using only stock photography throughout your website will limit your viewers' connection to you.
Ideally, the photos on your website will match your vision, echo your voice and speak for your brand - and images of you are the very best way to do that. Using some stock photos is okay - and sometimes unavoidable, even - but the benefits of having your own photoshoot are huge.
In this blog post, I'll be walking you through how to plan your brand photoshoot so that your website can connect to your audience and attract your ideal client.
So, who is your ideal client and what is it that they want to see? Here is where you need to think from their point of view. For example, if your ideal client is the creative, artistic type then having loads of photos of you in a plain outfit on a plain white background may not be the best as these people tend to like colour and variety. You would then need to think about how you would include more colour into your photos but still make sure that you are staying as true to your brand as possible.
Now that you have thought about what your ideal client is looking for it is time to start planning your brand photoshoot. Where would you like the photoshoot to take place? What types of colours complement your brand colours? Are you going to do your hair and make-up yourself or will you hire a professional? And how do you use all of this to put together a shot list?
Planning your shoot will ensure that you are able to get the best out of your day and will also enable you to share your vision with your photographer.
Decide on the best location for your brand photoshoot
The first place I suggest you consider when deciding on a location for your brand photoshoot is your home or office space. These places already have the essence of you and you don’t have to pay for a space rental, which is great if you have a smaller budget. However, if these places are not aligned with your brand's look and feel and you feel you are unable to transform the space, it may be better to look elsewhere.
Another place that you could use is your favourite coffee shop or local restaurant. Check out the interior design. Does it match your brand? If yes, they could be great places to take some casual work or leisurely photos.
Outdoor photos can really bring your website to life so an outside photoshoot is worth exploring. Before you do this however, there are a few things that you will need to consider. First you will need to think about the best time of day for your shoot. If you are in the city you will want to avoid rush hour, this way you will be less likely to encounter photobombing. The harsh sunlight at noon could negatively affect the quality of your pictures.
Early morning or evening has some of the best natural light and would be a good time to take some beautiful photographs. If you do decide to incorporate an outdoor location to your shoot you may need to think of a plan B because, even though it would make a great superpower, you do not have the ability to control the weather! No matter the weather, natural landscapes make for interesting backdrops.
If you have a larger budget and can afford to rent a space then a studio or an Airbnb is another great option. Look for places where the décor already matches your brand and bring some props with you to give the space your own personal touch and help you tie in your brand elements. Remember the background of your photo is there to tell a story and needs to appeal to your ideal client. For variety it would be good to have 2-3 locations or backdrops to shoot on, so your website pages don't all look the same. It can be confusing for a website viewer if too-similar photos are sprinkled throughout, because they can get confused navigating between pages.
Choose what outfits you want to wear for your website images
The outfits that you wear will tell your customers a lot about who you are. This does not mean that you need to dress up formally to make a good impression, unless your brand is luxury-focused or you are attracting a very high end clientele. Your outfits should complement your brand and be relatable to your ideal client.
When choosing your outfits for your brand photoshoot you want to make sure that they are comfortable to wear. Tight clothes may make you feel uncomfortable and that might translate in the photo. It also works the other way around, if you wear something that makes you feel amazing, this will also translate in your photos and make for a more enjoyable photoshoot.
Try to wear colours that compliment your brand. For example, if your brand colours are light purple and white it may be best to refrain from wearing a bold coloured shirt if it clashes with the other visual elements of your brand. One time, I offhandedly mentioned this to a client the night before her photoshoot and she decided to hang up her red dress instead of wearing it to her teal and yellow-themed website photoshoot (crisis averted!)
Before the day of the shoot it is a good idea to do a try on haul. This is where you can have fun, get creative and mix things up a bit. Try on different colours, patterns and prints (not just plain clothing). Remember, this is a chance to really show your personality through your clothes.
“Plan outfits, not clothes”. What do I mean by this? Instead of just thinking of what top and bottoms go together, match it with the perfect pair of shoes, necklace and earrings. Play around with different accessories to create varied looks. You can even take selfies so that you can get a better idea of what it will look like in a photo. When I plan my own photoshoots, I even mentally prepare for which outfits I'll keep my hair down and which outfits will best fit for when I pull my hair into a topknot mid-photoshoot.
Wearing layers will make it easier for you to do quick changes as you will be able to add a jacket here, take off a scarf there and tada, you have another look. A few different outfits to wear, will give you a good variety of looks on your website so your visitors don't get visually bored.
In order to save time and avoid confusion on the day of your shoot, hang or fold full outfits together (this includes accessories too). On the day of your shoot the last thing you want to do is try and remember what earrings go with what top.
And here is a bonus tip, wear a tank top under your outfit so that you will be able to change in front of your photographer to maximize your photoshoot time and get the most photos!
Plan your photoshoot hair and makeup
Whether you do your hair and makeup yourself or pay a professional makeup artist and hair stylist is completely up to you. Either way it is good to have a test run to ensure that you will be happy with your look on the day of the shoot. Personally, I've had photoshoots where I've hired out both my makeup and hair, some where I've booked only one of the two, and others still where I've done both myself. I find that I feel more confident if I've booked at least one, so if that's in your budget, I would recommend hiring out whichever of the two you feel less confident about doing yourself. You can also schedule your photoshoot on the same day as getting your hair done as you would normally, so that you can take advantage of that new haircut feel!
The amount of makeup that you wear for your photoshoot depends on your comfort level. If you are someone that doesn’t normally wear makeup then there is no need to overdo it on the day. This is where you really need to be your authentic self. I tend to extend my makeup routine just a bit when I'm doing it myself on a photoshoot day - taking that extra time helps me feel prepared and confident which translates into a better mood for the shoot.
Have your brand in mind. If it is more feminine and soft then a soft pink lip and flowing hair would be something that works well. If your brand is more edgy then a bright red lip may be better. Play around with different looks and different colours. In general, in terms of makeup, accentuate your eyes, lips and cheekbones so that you don’t look washed out in the photographs.
Hair down looks flattering from most angles. Hair up not as much. I recommend starting with hair down, that gives you the ability to quickly create variety by clipping half of it up, drawing it into a ponytail, or even throwing together a quick braid or topknot for a few photos. You might also consider bringing a hairbrush and some make up to the shoot so that you are able to make additional touches.
You're likely to be taking some photos that will include your hands. As these will also be seen in photoshoots, you might want your nails to be neat and groomed and if your brand allows it, a pop of colour might be nice.
Decide What Branded Props to Pack
Your best props will be the things you use in your everyday working life. If you are office based this could be the laptop you work from, if you are a health nutritionist then it may be your blender, a yoga instructor then your yoga mat could work as a prop in your brand photoshoot. You could also bring more personal items like your favourite mug, or decorative things like flowers or a candle. Bringing a fun item like confetti, champagne, balloons, or cake can help you capture a celebration feeling for when you launch something new or reach a new milestone in your business.
Referring back to your brand colours might help you to decide if a prop will look good on your website. Props can bring in a personal element and stop places like studios from feeling artificial and give them the personal touch that it needs. Add texture by including a fluffy pillow etc, this takes away that flat and generic look, gives a photo dimension and makes it feel more real. Get creative and try to have all these items align with your brand.
Bringing multiples of things will help you create a good variety of pictures and stop every frame from looking the same. For each picture that is taken from a different angle swap out an item. For example, if you are at a desk writing notes in a notepad you can swap the pen that you are using in frame one, then you can change the notebook you are writing in for frame two, next add a watch for frame three and last remove your glasses for frame four. This will mean that you have 4 pictures of the same scenario that are different.
Each prop adds personality to your photo and visually tells your brands story and you decide which props are right for you. Have a look around your space and see what props you have available to you and if you feel like anything is missing then you can purchase them. It is good to make a list of all the props you would like to feature in your photoshoot so that you are not stressing out about them on the day. Add more than you think that you will need as it is better to bring too much than too little.
Preparing your Website Image Shot List
Now that you have a good idea what outfits you will be wearing, how you are going to do your hair and make up and what props and locations you want to use for your brand photoshoot it is time to put together a shot list. A shot list in basic terms, is a list of images you need and want to have taken. Having one helps make the day go smoothly and will aid in making sure that your photoshoot meets your expectations. It can also minimize the risk of not having enough or not having the right types of shots for your website. The last thing you want is to come out of a photoshoot with a load of photos that all look the same.
This is where you can get creative and really go into detail. The list can include what props you want in each photo, how you will be posing in the photo and what angle you would like the photo to be taken from, either from the front, side or up above. For example, instead of writing on your shot list “writing in journal”, you would put “seated at desk writing in journal – shot from over the shoulder”. Try to be very specific when you are writing a shot list - the more detail you have, the more smoothly your experience will go. You may even want to include what props you want visible or which outfit you want worn in each scenario.
It goes beyond outfit, pose, and prop - you will also need to consider your website and the types of photos that you will need for each page. Remember that a website needs landscape as well as portrait photos: I recommend asking your photographer for a balance of 80% horizontal and 20% vertical. You may need a banner photo (a pulled back horizontal shot) or some pictures with negative space for text. On the day of the shoot you will more than likely have a lot going on and the last thing that you will want to be doing is remembering all these details... by adding them to your shot list you have a better chance of remembering what you need.
If you are having difficulty putting your shot list together ask yourself questions like, what types of images will tell my brand story? Or, what types of images will showcase my personality? Think of how you want your ideal client to feel when looking at your website. My advice would be to relax and take your time putting these ideas together. Try to do this a few days before your shoot - your photographer will thank you and you'll save time and money in the end.