After a quick Pinterest search I realized that some of the best things I brought to my most recent photoshoot weren’t in any of the typical brand shoot preparation posts I’ve come across. Planning a brand photoshoot is no small job. And the last thing you want is to be disappointed with the results after so much effort and heart goes into the planning. Especially when you realize how easily the situation could have been avoided.
After 3 of my own shoots, and helping clients with their own when the photos will go on their new website, I’ve learned a thing or two, or thirty-seven things. But who’s counting?!
I know that these items can make just as big a difference as the outfits and poses themselves.
No matter where your photoshoot takes place, you’ll likely be rearranging the space and creating particular scenes for the photographs. Adding items to the wall space creates dimension and balance in the photos.
Command hooks give you so many options without wall damage.
Here are a few of my favorites:
I brought this framed art from my office to the shoot and the clear command hooks worked perfectly!
I loved the statement of the black hook but at a fraction of the cost of my original inspiration. You can also see I used the same command hooks and swapped out the framed art for a dry erase board later on in the same photoshoot.
Composition through flow, direction, and visual balance, helps drive the story behind your image and grabs your viewer’s attention (credit). By bringing a combination of different materials you’ll create more compelling photos and an overall stronger visual message.
Even though I do alot of document work on my computer, I brought a beautiful tan suede binder for the photo shoot. I’m not the photographer here, but the bottom line is, it created better photo outcomes.
If you’re not sure how to incorporate mixed mediums for your own photos, brainstorm from these categories:
Here are a few examples:
This photo is a great combination of mediums. You’ll see oversized paper prints, a textured cardstock print with actual paint samples, some pantone cards, and the glass table I’m using adds diversity to the materials.
Even the books helped create photo composition. The ones I brought had different cover finishes, widths, and font stylings. We used the books in a variety of different photos.
Still using books here, but creating a totally different visual presentation. Books are not the most convenient to transport, but they’re an affordable way to make a big statement.
Just for fun, let me tell you the effort that went into bringing books to this particular photoshoot.
I rented a downtown Airbnb in an old historic building since converted into a beautiful second floor loft apartment. Parking was the next block over on the second level of a parking garage with no elevator or staircase. And there were two locked entrances before needing to climb the creaky stairs to the apartment door.
I originally packed one large suitcase anticipating the use of an elevator. Thankfully, I drove by the building beforehand and realized there would be no elevator to help me out. So I repacked into two smaller suitcases that I dragged up the stairs and back down again just a few hours later.
This is the perfect time to show off some of your personality and let your audience get to know you outside of what your business offers. I happened to be approaching my business’ 2nd anniversary so I opted for some on-brand balloons. I spent the night before watching, between the air pump noise, The Kissing Booth 3 (or is it 4?) and blowing up balloons for a super fun balloon arch.
Creating something fun, aesthetically pretty, with a minimal look to it is totally authentic to me. I own the electric balloon pump, if that tells you anything. And it wasn’t my first balloon arch. Check it out!
I personally love a good office vibe. You can see an entire post on my favorite office items here. But I grabbed some extra items for the shoot and they now also live happily in my office. Here are a few that work well for almost any industry.
Personal items are a great way to keep the photos from looking like a studio shoot with little personality or using generic items that don’t add much value to the photos. Especially if you go off-location to a new place like I did. I used my personal items to keep the photos genuine to me, my business, and what my audience expects to see when they view my brand.
Here’s what I chose as my personal items:
I liked that I checked this one off the list with the Airbnb rental I selected. It was so much fun looking at different spaces and dreaming about what I’d want my own large office studio to look like if I could walk into any place and call it my own.
You can see my sweet plant off to the left and my daughter’s rainbow art to the right. Everything else in this photo was already arranged in the space. D-R-E-A-M-Y!! The wall art and hand statue with the leather chaise chair brought some variety to my usual style, but without straying away from what I’m known for.
Can you even with this mirror and mid-modern buffet? I would have happily brought both pieces home with me that day. And even though the gold bar stools aren’t ideal for daily life (I need a comfy place for my bum, people) they made for a great accent in many photos.
This space is actually a coffee bar for normal guests. We moved the espresso machine and microwave and brought the lamp and gold tray out from one of the bedrooms. It’s the same lamp as in the photo above, so many options here!
Photo shoot are a fun time to ask yourself, “what do I love but probably won’t actually ever use or have in my business?” For me, it was the 14 ft exposed ceilings, the industrial piping, and yes, this glass top table.
Extra props to my photographer for working with this table. It was more challenging to photograph but the photos are some of my absolute favorites!! I can’t imagine not having those photos now!
In the two years that I’ve been running Abundant Collab Co. I’ve had three different brand photo scenarios. I’d say this is a pretty common scenario for a new business.
It started by borrowing a friend, offering her coffee and lunch, and meeting at a cute town to grab some photos on my iPhone. When you’re starting out, budget is tight, and your business brand is continually evolving this is a totally appropriate option. Others disagree, but I won’t knock it because it served me well.
A year later, I asked a family and lifestyle portrait photographer to do a brand shoot at an Airbnb close to my house. We bartered services and again, the photos were what I needed in that season of my business.
That photo shoot was such a good learning experience (aka I saw how much work goes into preparing and executing. And I learned how tiring the day is, even though it’s fun). So I walked away with more great photos, so much experience, and a client project for her that I thoroughly enjoyed completing.
Like I mentioned above, photo composition changes based on the photo style you’re looking to capture. Brand photography is unique in the elements that are involved. The photographer needs to be able to catch not just the people in the photo, but also the surrounding scene that helps to tell a particular story.
A brand photographer will share in the responsibility of planning the session, guiding you in the best photo choices, and take the lead on photo day.
I’m so grateful for the time Rachael spent preparing for my brand photoshoot. Together we not only created ideas, but clarified how to translate those visions into photography. It was magical.
Especially if you live in the Midwest like I do, don’t risk a poor lighting situation. As we’ve talked about here, this space had a variety of spaces to be used. We grabbed items from other rooms, rearranged, and turned this apartment into a stunning studio space.
What you can’t see is that the entire wall (off camera to the left of the last photo above) is an entire wall of 12′ windows with shade pull-downs. This gave us extensive control over the lighting throughout the day.
You don’t need a big space or lots of rooms to create multiple scenes and style setups. Outside of the shoot I personally enjoyed the TV area, cozy bedrooms, and beautiful bathrooms. In fact, had we used all these spaces, it would have felt overly busy and complicated.
An extra set of hands, or two, or three won’t be wasted during an in-depth photoshoot like this. The photographer is guiding the session, tracking the photos that need to be taken and when. Whoever is in the photos is posing, changing outfits, or freshening up hair and makeup between shots. It is a busy day.
Here’s how those extra hands can help make the day flow with ease:
I could have included this somewhere in the list above, but decided it’s worth mentioning on it’s own. In this case it’s used both visually and as a hard behind-the-scenes worker. I used decorative washi tape as one of my mediums throughout the photos. But what you don’t see is the painter’s tape holding up the magnet clips, balloon arch, and other miscellaneous items.
There’s usually not time to break and go somewhere for lunch. And like I’ve said (probably too many times at this point), it’s a busy day and you’re bound to get hungry. It’s hard to smile on camera when you’re hungry. It’s hard for anyone to concentrate when they’re hungry. You might even notice yourself light-headed or nauseous if you aren’t eating and drinking enough throughout the day.
Pack a cooler, grab some snacks beforehand, and don’t forget bottled water in case the tap water isn’t great.
Think about snacks that are easy to eat in between photos so you aren’t constantly needing to brush your teeth. I love cheese, fresh apple slices, and this trail mix for some protein and tasty chocolate.
All brand photography images shared in this post were captured by the lovely Rachael Leigh herself.
Hi there, I’m Katie Taylor! A website designer, business strategist, and creative analyst! I help service-based businesses take their websites from drab to fab with purpose, beautiful design, and strategy so they can stand out online with a better brand, easily book dream clients, and spend more time enjoying life. I also work 1:1 with businesses to create better marketing outcomes.
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You might also like this blog post where I talk about the photo planning process of an upcoming brand shoot! Check it out!