Alexandra De Cespedes
My name is Alex and I'm the CEO of Made Happy Studio. I'm a Brand Designer, Photographer, Web Designer, Social Media Content Creator & Strategist. Made Happy was created to make happy business, big and small, with one of a kind design and strategy that showcases their unique qualities and grows their fanbase. Some of my clients include HubSpot, Canva, Greystar, Douglas Elliman Real Estate and Linkedin.
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“Failure to plan, is planning to fail.” is a quote I’ve heard one too many times in my life, and boy has it stuck with me.
When you’re at a photoshoot, there is nothing worse than going in without a plan. If you want to portray a cohesive brand bursting with personality, there are a few things you will need to plan for.
A photoshoot visually portrays your brand story to your ideal audience. Just as an author develops and outlines a plan for their storybook, you will have to do the same.
To avoid the stress of a disorganized photoshoot, create a moodboard.
Creating a moodboard is the single most important step to planning your brand photoshoot. A mood board will help you define your visual brand identity, give you a guideline for your photoshoot, and keep you from wasting your time.
First things first, let’s discuss what a brand photoshoot is, and why you need one, like yesterday.
Let’s face it, you’re probably wondering, is this something I actually need? Can’t I just prop my iPhone up and take the photo myself?
But the truth is, there is more to translating your brand visually than just snapping a quick photo. Branding photography is more than just your headshots, they should tell a unique story about who you are and what you do.
Using photos to market and advertise your brand not only positions you as an expert in your ﬁeld, but also gives your clients a more authentic brand experience. Whether you’re a real estate agent, blogger, marketer or entrepreneur, a brand photoshoot will help you take your business to the next level.
Find branding photoshoot ideas on Pinterest, Instagram, Dribbble, Behance, basically anywhere on the Internet. Remember you need to search for things that speak to you and most importantly your brand.
While looking for inspiration take note of things you are drawn to;
Don’t forget the photography aspects;
Snag photos of the things you like and put them on your mood board!
Keep it digital! I highly recommend creating a digital mood board. Try digital services like Canva, not only to save the trees but to quickly replace photos in case your vision changes.
Digital, also means you have it accessible, so you can easily have it as a reference, especially on shoot day.
It is a good idea to plan on bringing your board with you on the shoot. AND, because you were ahead of the game and created it digitally, you don’t need to worry about printing it out.
Need help gathering inspiration?
Where you choose to take your photos will speak volumes about your brand and values. The atmosphere, lighting, and design details add character. They act as visual cues for someone interacting with your brand for the first time.
When choosing a location for your photoshoot, here’s a question you should ask yourself.
If you had an interior designer to bring your brand to life, what would the location look like?
Is it happy, bright, and outgoing? OR Is it moody, dramatic, and sensual?
Choose at most 3 locations.
This allows creativity and gives you plenty of options without going overboard. Bonus points if your locations have multiple photo spots to take more shots at that location.
While choosing locations try to keep them as close as possible to save time traveling. Hopping from one place to another can take a lot of time out of your day. Start with the location that is the most popular first, to avoid crowds. Then move on to the next closest location.
Lastly, be respectful at each location. If you are taking photos at someone else’s business make sure you’ve asked permission before arriving.
For my Florida folks, Check out my Instagram Guides to find several local hot spots.
Choose props that help bring your brand identity to life. Is that a book, yoga mat, or laptop? If you want to humanize your brand and make it more relatable, you can even use your pets or family members as props. Anything that helps visually represent you and your brand.
If you are having trouble choosing, think about what service or product your business provides.
Answering these questions can help you choose products in a certain color scheme (like your brand colors) or certain textures like wood, which brings warmth, or marble, which brings a more modern, feminine feel.
Flat lay on wood vs marble and how each gives a different feeling.
Once you have a list of props that will help bring your vision to life. Make sure you purchase all your props at least a week in advance. This allows time to make any online orders and wait for shipping.
Take a look in your closet, hop online, or head to the nearest shopping center of your choice.
While deciding what to wear keep in mind 3 types of outfits:
I recommend one outfit per location as well as layering your outfits.
This allows you to have several different looks at each location. For example, wear a jean jacket over a sundress then remove it for the next photo in the same location.
Changing into all three outfits for one location will take a lot out of your time. Not to mention the risk of ruining makeup or hairstyles etc. So keep it simple and easy for yourself. One outfit per location and add some layers.
A big part of your plan is having an idea ahead of time of what these images will be used for.
Answering these questions will help you create a brand photoshoot shot list. When planning your shots, be sure to ask yourself the questions below.
Do you need to write educational content or a quote on a photo? If so, plan for white space.
Do you need to add short video bursts to create depth and add character to your social media?
Here are a few photography shot options.
Close Up OR Far Away
Flatlay OR Lifestyle shot
If you’re like me and have trouble feeling natural in front of the camera, try practicing your facial expressions in the mirror.
Still feeling nervous about headshots or close-ups? Bring a speaker to play your favorite songs and let loose.
P.S. If you’d like to do a flatlay, gather your props before the shoot and lay them out how you want them, so it’s easy to set up the day of the photoshoot.
You know what you want your photos to look like, now you need someone to capture your vision.
When choosing a photographer, take a look at their portfolio, check out their reviews, and send them a message asking for their rate.
Make sure you choose a photographer a few weeks ahead of time. If you choose one last minute you may run into some fantastic photographers that are fully booked right when you need them.
Boujee on a Budget? That’s okay! Grab a friend or family member, someone who knows how to use a camera, and offer to pay for their lunch to use them for the day.
Create a photoshoot-day timeline to stay on schedule.
To have a successful photoshoot day, create a list of everything you will need to bring.
Then set them out, or pack them up, the night before to cut down on the craziness of the next morning.
Start your photoshoot day early, that way you have time to do your hair, makeup, and eat a hearty breakfast so you aren’t hangry. Being frantic on a timeline is a sure way to forget something, trust me.
And that covers it! After reading these tips, I hope you’re feeling more prepared and confident when planning your shoot. I know you’re itching to get started on your mood board, but in case you want a jump start, I’ve got a freebie below that takes you through step by step.