White Point Creative’s owner and lead designer, Lizzy, currently works out of Fredericksburg but grew up surfing in Charleston, SC. Married to the love of her life, Joe, they live for time outdoors and finding the best brunch spots with their pups Folly & Daisy.
Let’s talk photography! It’s honestly one of my favorite topics and I am excited to share my best brand photo shoot tips for business owners! The tips below can help any business owner, in any industry, put together a strategic plan so that they make the most out of their photographer’s time and investment.
Whether you need branded photos for your Instagram, product launch, or your website, there are a few important aspects of the shoot to think about and do, and I am going to run you through all of them with examples! Let’s dive into what I think about when planning a brand photo shoot.
This might seem strange at first but hang with me. In design, we use something called white space to allow the eye to relax and emphasize a specific part of the layout. We can use this same principle with photography. By using a complete or partial out-of-focus photo as the background to a parallax section on your website, you are creating beautiful texture while not overwhelming the eye and allowing the viewer to zero in on something specific in the design.
Below are two examples from websites, who are using partial or complete out-of-focus photos to emphasize copy while creating texture. They are also employing transparent overlays to help the copy stand out.
Remember these photos are great for use on packaging, as backgrounds, on your website and so many other places! I would recommend that the majority of your photos be in-focus but it’s super quick and easy to ask your photographer to take a second out-of-focus version for photos you really love or have a specific use for.
Tip: I would not recommend adding these overlays during the editing process because it limits how you can use the photos down the road. It is very easy to add these yourself!
You might be thinking, “Obviously Lizzy…” but you might be surprised at how often someone becomes camera shy or naturally turns away, looks down, or doesn’t fully face the camera! This can partially be alleviated by employing a photographer with the right personality for you. Some photographers are extremely vibrant and funny while others are more reserved and calm or gentle. When narrowing down your search for a photographer, keep in mind the type of personality you need to be surrounded by, so that you can be most confident.
Whether you are nervous or confident in front of the camera, always have a handful of photos taken with you looking directly at the camera. These photos are extremely important for about/bio pages, feature photos in magazines or online publications, social media, and more. Part of our fundamental nature is the desire to look at someone directly in the eye. With the majority of business being done online these days, we want to help fulfill this human need for eye contact by using these photos. Make sure to designate a good portion of your brand photo shoot time, to portraits where you’re looking at the camera!
I know sometimes posing for these shots feels a little awkward because we don’t know what to do with our hands and such so always have some example photos on hand. Your photographer will also be a huge help with this!
Whether you are a coach who sits behind a desk all day, chef, or dietician, there are always fun ways of incorporating movement into your photos! If you feel stuck then find some props! Props are a fantastic way to get you interacting with something and looking more natural.
I also want to encourage you to not feel constrained to props or movement that you only use for work. Capture movement that is an expression of your personality! My favorite example of this is by Marisa from Quill & Co.
She does use a lot of short video clips on her website which is where the black and white photo above is from but everything about her photography and videography is in alignment with her personality, brand’s tone, and the truest expression of herself as a graphic and web designer.
Gone are the days that a graphic designer, coach, or accountant has to be photographed sitting behind a desk! Think bigger for your own brand photo shoot.
If you sell a product then this point is especially important! If you claim to have a piece of extremely rugged and durable outdoor equipment but only ever photograph it in a staged and safe environment then you are doing yourself (and product) a discredit. As product sellers, you have to remember that you are selling more than an object you are selling an experience! For this, I love using Free Fly and Osprey as examples. Their photography is on point in multiple ways!
Their Instagram feeds are full of photographs that show their products in use and in their natural environment. They also do an amazing job of this on their websites. Now don’t get me wrong, studio product shots with a white background for a product page are also important but I do feel like they are overused on many websites and social media accounts.
This is a highly overlooked point that bums me out. I will admit that sticking to your brand’s color palette does take planning and intentionality but it is not impossible and very much worth your time and effort.
To help you plan this out for your own brand photo shoot, I’ve made a list of ways to stay within your brand’s color palette.
The last thing I will say on this matter is to always shoot a few extremely neutral photos no matter what. You can employ colored overlays and other effects to help infuse color and personality down the road! These neutral photos are also amazing as backgrounds and textural elements for social and websites.
Think about where these photos will be living and shoot to accommodate that cropping. For example, if you are looking to shoot a collection of social media photos then you want to make sure that your photos look beautiful when cropped as a square. Alternatively, if you are refreshing your website’s photography, you need to think very horizontally and at times, thin and horizontal.
This is yet another really good reason to be very intentional about the why behind your brand photo shoot. I can understand if you are a new business that literally needs every photo imaginable! But if you were to hire your photographer, put aside props and show up that day and say, “Hey Sally the photographer, I just need a little bit of everything…” they are going to say, “Umm okay? But what is everything…specifically?” This is where having something called a shot list is extremely important.
I don’t know about you, but if I go into a grocery store with no list, no meal plan, and no ideas then I am either going to buy everything or nothing and feel extremely frazzled during the shopping process.
Even if you aren’t a list person, now is not the time to skip or avoid making a list. When you have a shot list you will have:
Making a shot list doesn’t have to be overly complicated, it could literally be a google document with this layout:
Keep going by listing out the other shots you need and adding all the details while being as specific as possible! You got this!
Pro tip: share this with your photographer prior to the shoot so they can prep their gear properly!
I always always always recommend creating a Pinterest board to gather inspiration on. You can even create sections if you’d like; categories like “poses”, “props”, “location”, “outfits” are all great! Or you can lump all the photos together! Either way, aim for 10-30 photos that you love and would like to bring to your photographer. To help you with this process I have a whole board dedicated to photography and a section dedicated to professional portraits! Click below to start pinning!
I know I say this a lot, but always hire a professional and hire with intentionality. Don’t hire someone just because they are the cheapest or based solely on their Instagram account. It’s sort of like picking an amateur acupuncturist…you don’t want your practitioner saying, “Oops” during your session or placing the needle in the wrong spot! You want to hire an acupuncturist who has five-star reviews, loads of positive testimonials, and a proven track record.
To help narrow the field of professional photographers, zero in on the ones who have experience shooting in your industry. For example, you could have a business in the health and wellness sector which means a lot of your photos will be you doing breathwork, yoga, picking vegetables in your garden, and so forth. Your photos will come out a lot better if your photographer has experience with shooting these scenes, poses, and working with your props. Your brand photo shoot is an investment, so make sure to find the perfect fit before moving forward!
Make sure you always have a consultation prior to hiring them. During this consultation you can better judge if their personality is synonymous with yours, you can hear them talk about their craft, walk them through your shot list, and also talk about your budget.
Before even taking a consultation though, you should definitely take your time scrolling through their portfolio and Instagram feed. If they don’t have any specific examples of your industry and you reeeeeally want to work with them, simply ask for examples! If they don’t have any, then I really think you should find someone who has more experience within your industry.
This is a lot to think about! I totally get it! To keep things straight and give you a clear checklist here are the 8 things to think about when planning your brand photo shoot.
If you are loving all of this content and want to work together to create a comprehensive photography direction PDF for your next brand photo shoot just click the button below to schedule a free call!