We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.

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5 Tips for a Successful Personal Brand Shoot

Over the last couple of years, we’ve shot with personal brands of all kinds. The content creation challenge is REAL for personal brands. Oftentimes, personal brands need the same level of content as large national brands with a fraction of the time, team, or budget to make it happen! We learned early on that in order to serve our clients well, we needed to be able to provide a fast-paced, variety-packed session that left them with loads of content that could be spread across their content calendars. But how could we make sure that we would be delivering a successful brand shoot every time?

We’ll be honest…not every session has gone off without a hitch. Sometimes things didn’t fall into place as smoothly as we wanted them to for our client. Our initial reaction was to feel a little bummed out that our client wasn’t as prepared as we would have wanted them to be. But then we had a real ‘AHA!’ kind of moment. 

The only reason our clients weren’t well prepared is because we hadn’t equipped them with the knowledge of HOW to be well prepared!

To help our clients know how to prepare and what worked best on shoot day we developed a quick instructional video with one of our good friends and clients to walk them through our tips and show them visually what good preparation looked like. If you want to jump straight to the video, go ahead and scroll to the bottom now, but we’ll unpack the main points for you here first too!

Plan Your Messaging in Advance

This is probably one of the most helpful things a client can do for their photographer. As brand photographers, we need to know the messaging of the brand. What makes them unique? Who is their audience? What is their personality of the brand? All of that information completely shapes the experience and the resulting images.

We recommend that our clients have an idea of the story they want to tell through their images. We ask for some examples of captions they might be posting or specific topics they will be discussing with the content we are helping them to create. That information then allows us, as the creatives, to shape a session that supports and matches the content.

Location, Location, Location

For two years, we lived in a house that was anything but visually stunning. In fact, I don’t think that we ever took a photo of each other in that house that was to be used on anything branded for our business. (Side Note: Imagine how soul-crushing that is for a photographer!!)

We know many of our clients are in the same boat and that their homes may not always reflect the style of their brand. We’ve found a ton of success helping our clients find perfect venues for their brand photoshoots, we just have to know what they are looking for in advance! It may increase the cost of the session a little bit for a venue fee, but we know our clients will agree that it’s so worth it when their photos perfectly match their brand’s aesthetics.

Preparation is Key!

You’ve been there before. You unpack your camera gear and you’re ready to shoot, and that’s when your client starts figuring out what they should wear! Oh no! Sweet, precious session time is rolling and you’re there picking out outfits with your client. That’s not the situation we wanted our clients to be in because we knew it would leave them feeling flustered and result in less final imagery.

There is a saying about planning and preparation: Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. That’s what we encourage our clients to do – plan in advance!! We recommend that they come to the shoot with outfits already pre-selected, props ready and organized, and ready to start rolling through them.

Have an Adventurous Spirit

Walking in place.

Laughing to the side at nothing.

Laughing at an empty coffee cup.

No one does those things on their own (except maybe for Jon when he sees a mirror!) so naturally, it feels uncomfortable when we ask our clients to do those things. As photographers, we know that the resulting images will look authentic, candid, and natural, but we also felt that some clients were hesitant to fully give themselves over to the process.

Preparing them in advance with some of the silly things you might ask them to do helps them feel more comfortable in front of your camera. We’ve also found that doing those things with them will help them open up. It’s leading by example – if they see you are willing to be goofy with them, they will eventually open up to do the same. 🙂

Move Quickly

If all of the above steps are taken to prepare a client for a personal branding session, this last one should take care of itself. Every now and then we may have a client who needs a little reminder, but if the work is done in advance, things will naturally progress quickly. 

When clients ask us how many final images they can expect, our response is oftentimes that much of that depends on how quickly they are willing to move through the session. Having a client give us a clear picture of their brand’s messaging, having the perfect location, preparing outfits and props in advance, and having an adventurous attitude will literally make things move fast, but there still has to be a willingness to physically move quickly for us to really capitalize on every moment of the session.

Helping your client realize that a large portion of the shoot’s success depends on their willingness to move fast during the session helps create some mutual responsibility for the outcome of the shoot and allows you to work through all of the looks they spent time preparing!

Want to see this played out in a real shoot? Check out the video at the link below with one of our amazing clients!

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