January is a great time to get thinking about your goals + plans for the year.
Whether you have a full marketing team or you're creating your own plan, I'm sure you've found that strong & consistent visuals get attention and drive engagement for you and your brand. That’s why it’s so important to have a cohesive online presence that is consistently working for you to draw in your ideal clients. Polished and professional photos are not a luxury, they're absolutely vital to taking your business to the next level. Personal branding photography is a way for entrepreneurs to show the face behind the business, what they do and what makes their business unique.
Once you've made it through the initial stages of setting up your business and you've had your first few clients you have a much better idea of who you love working with, how you can help them and how you can attract more clients like them. You can be the best business in your industry but if no one that it doesn’t matter. If you’re not top of mind when people think of the thing they want, they're going to go with someone else.
So how do you create a content strategy that draws those dream clients to you?
Make sure you're keeping them in mind during every point of interaction. From your sales pages to social profiles to any resources you give out or sell. Your branding is more than your logo and the colours you choose, it's how people feel during and after they've interacted with your content - how connected they feel to you and your brand.
A great way to start feeling more connected? Photos.
Notice I did not say the only way. There are many parts of your branding that will need to work together to achieve this: your sales copy, showcasing your client work and/or products, providing huge value in your content, displaying testimonials... the list goes on. But of course being a photographer, I'm going to stick to the photo aspect - in my opinion, one of the extra fun parts!
But Kelsi, I'm already trying to figure out how to automate as much as possible, develop new products/services and work on my website - I don't have time to think about new photos!
Believe me, I get it, it can feel totally overwhelming to plan a shoot - especially if you don't know where to start. However, when you're working to achieve the next level in your business, that is the time to starting thinking about your visual strategy because you want photos that show where you're going, not just where you are right now. Remember that good old phrase of a picture paints 1000 words? As a visual learner, I actually find it even more inspiring to start with photos in mind. It helps me visualize what I'm working towards and the other ideas start to flow.
Not only will starting early allow you to be more prepared and organized, the earlier you start thinking about the photos you want to represent your brand, the more fun the process becomes. You will be giving yourself the freedom of time to think about what you really want while creating fun and exciting shoot ideas.
Whether you've had a professional photo shoot before but you're now at the next level or you're gearing up for your very first one there are some key elements to keep in mind when planning out your shoot.
First - can I just say - I am so excited for you! Taking the leap and investing your time and money further into your brand can feel like a big leap but it's meant to be a fun and celebratory experience. You have already come so far and having photos that authentically show who you are ready at your fingertips makes it super easy to use them - and show your dream clients exactly why they should be working with you and buying from you.
Let's dive in to the questions to keep in mind about how to plan out your shoot to be as effortless and enjoyable as possible.
Start by assessing your photo goals and how they'll work with your brand personality.
•What are they for?
A new product collection? New service you're launching? Website update? Re-branding? Seasonal update? Combination?
•What are you hoping to achieve with your new photos?
Some examples: Promote (new) products and/or services, show you and your brand's authenticity, increase brand awareness, create new connections and to supplement with your existing photos for seasonal content
How do you want your photos to feel?
Think about your ideal customer/client. Even if you haven't had one of these clients yet, think of how you want them to feel when they see your new images? Of course this is also about your brand aesthetic on a whole, but these photos will be the most recent version so make sure they further the feelings you want your brand to convey. It's also important to think about where you want to be. I know, this can be a super overwhelming question, but think about where you see your brand going, not only where you're at right now.
Establish a mood for your shoot that keeps the feeling, colours and also future content of your brand in mind. A summer product launch will likely look quite a bit different than a holiday one. Are you keeping your mood light and natural? Dark & moody? Bold and glamorous? Make sure you keep this in mind for all aspects of your shoot.
Having trouble visualizing all of this?
Create a vision board.
I absolutely love Pinterest for this and send private boards for my clients to add to right after their Visual Strategy Call so they can start searching for images that resonate with them. Pinterest is such a powerful tool and you'll have no problem finding inspiring images of colours, travel scenes, outfits, makeup/hair, props, scenes, etc. to create a cohesive look.
My recommendation is to start by pinning anything and everything that captures your attention that you'd love to have included in your shoot. Then on another day go back through to curate what's there based on your photo goals and brand personality. You can always pin anything that doesn't fit for this shoot onto another board for future use!
Click below to check out our Shoot Inspiration Board on Pinterest.
Your shoot looks.
Once you've narrowed down the mood and look of your shoot you can start thinking about your wardrobe + hair and makeup. If you're not 110% confident in putting together your own looks, hire the professionals who can to start feeling like a star well before your shoot.
Hiring a professional wardrobe stylist, makeup artist and/or hair stylist will really show in your photos. At the very least they will take three parts of the shoot off your plate but they'll also provide you valuable knowledge with their expertise to give you the looks that will help execute your vision. Your photographer may have people they've worked with in the past which is great to ask about. Otherwise make sure you get a full portfolio of their work and check that they have experience with photo shoots.
Of course pricing can range quite a bit for these services but that should not hold you back from reaching out. There's no point of having a photo shoot if you're not going to be happy with the photos and hiring experienced professionals is your best bet to having photos that you can't wait to share.
Click below to check out our Styling Inspiration Board on Pinterest.
Logistics & Deliverables
•Finding a photographer
Find a photographer in your area that works for you - their style, their packages and their overall vibe. Whoever speaks out to you is who you should be working with because you want to feel inspired & creative while planning your shoot - it's supposed to be fun after all! You are celebrating your success of being at a stage where taking these photos is even possible.
Find several photographers in your area who's work resonates with you, ask them how far out they are booking and let them know when you need your final photos delivered by. Depending on the time of year and if they shoot other types of photography (such as weddings) they may be booked up before you nee them. I personally start booking at least 8 weeks out - some photographers may need more time and some can work with less. To really get the full experience and incorporate all of the aspects that you need I would recommend at least 6 weeks of prep time. The weeks fly by quickly!
If there's someone you've had an eye on for a while make sure you reach out as soon as possible to see if they are available. If not you can always keep them in mind for your next shoot that aligns with their timeline.
Often before a deposit is required they will send you a contract*. Make sure you read over this and are 100% comfortable with what is included. You can always ask them questions if you don't understand a section.
Stuck between a couple of options? Some things to keep in mind:
Just like your own branding, check in with yourself about how your interactions with them made you feel. Do you think they really get your vision for your shoot? Did you genuinely enjoy talking with them? Were their ideas in line with your brand?
•Consulting with other professionals to help
If you are thinking of using a Web Designer one of your first steps should be to reach out to a few to get them involved before photos have been taken. The earlier you start to liaise between the designer and photographer, the easier your process will be. Everyone will know exactly what is needed so there aren't any surprises later. Also check out Wardrobe Stylist + Makeup & Hair Artist availability. Your photographer may also have recommendations for any of these services so make sure you see if they have any recommendations. You'll also want to consult with your photographer if you will be arriving prepped by wardrobe/H&MU or if they will stick around on set for any touch-ups.
*In general I advise to double check on cancellation/rescheduling policies with each service provider. Also make sure to ask them what their COVID-19 policies are in case one of you is not feeling well and needs to reschedule.
•What type & how many photos do you need realistically?
Are you planning out your content for a website design only or do you also want to have a full quarter of social content included? This will of course change the number of photos you need. I would recommend looking at what you're looking to create and if possible add 10-15% more photos than you think you need. That way you'll have extra options in case you need them.
For example, you're a yoga instructor scheduling a web re-design + a quarter of content for your social profiles. Depending on your strategy you may have a mix of photos showing you teaching a class, your studio, closeups of yoga poses, products you love that help your clients in their practice, atmospheric (stock) shots + head shots that are casual and inviting for your social thumbnails and any events you may speak at or host in the future.
Typically my clients use 10-20 unique photos on a website so including 3 months of posting would be:
5x / week = 60 photos
4x / week = 48 photos
3x / week = 36 photos
2x / week = 24 photos
1 x / week = 12 photos
Therefore, we're looking at a minimum of 12 photos up to 60. That's quite a difference! The key here is to keep in mind what is realistic for you right now in terms of time (we all know creating relevant, engaging and on-brand content takes some time and consistency) + in cost of course. I say a minimum of 12 as you can use the same photos that are being trickled through on your socials each week on your website. You can also create further options for yourself, especially on socials by strategically cropping.
•Lighting & Daylight
Your photographer will likely go over this with you but make sure you keep in mind sunrise and sunset times for when you're hoping to have your shoot if you want a natural light and/or exterior shoot. Of course additional lighting is always an option but this can change the look and feel of your shoot.
•Where are you going to be using your new photos?
Will they be on a blog, your website, socials, in an e-book? You'll need to keep these platforms in mind and check out their accepted formats (JPG, PNG, etc), ideal sizing (in pixels) and orientation (portrait, landscape, square, etc). This will be especially important if you manage your own web design or socials. Let your photographer know right away what these specs are so they will be able to keep them in mind with shooting.
So how far in advance do you need to get all of this together?
The Work-Back Schedule
I am a huge advocate of planning & scheduling and I love both work-back and work-ahead schedules. They can be used whether you know the date of your final delivery goal or if you’re trying to figure it out.
These schedules are frequently used in many different types of companies to make sure each element of a project is brought together in time for the next department to start their role.
While your business may not have departments yet, why not give yourself the same professional treatment and create one of your own?
But Kelsi, I don’t even know what to include or how long anything takes.
Well I happen to do these all the time - for my clients and also for myself so I've created one for you to download by subscribing to our newsletter!
I hope this gave you a solid starting point to create your own plan for your branding shoot this year. Having authentic photos that capture the real you + the look and feel of your brand is not a luxury but something that will draw people to you.
Most of my clients that have come back and told me how much their photos helped them in their confidence and also in showing up more consistently online. Having authentic photos to post consistently takes the guess work out of it so you can focus on bringing the best value and service to your clients.
I am so excited for you to get your start getting your shoot plan together! Let me know in the comments if this was helpful and if you have any specific questions on creating your own work-back schedule - I'd love to hear from you!
If you'd like some help in getting your own shoot plan together, feel free to book a Complimentary Visual Strategy Call with me. We'll go over what your goals are for the year and how photography can help elevate your experience in getting there.