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.
As brand photographers, one of the most important things to us is knowing that after the photoshoot is over and photos are delivered, our client is equipped with powerful imagery that will genuinely make a positive impact on their business! We’ve set out to create an experience that is unparalleled for our clients from start to finish. An experience that leaves our clients singing our praises because of the huge impact it made on their business. And do you know what one of the hands-down most important elements of that experience is? Planning and preparation. We like to say that a great photoshoot is 50% planning and preparation and 50% execution on those plans. So what do you need to know in order to plan and prepare well? Let’s dive in as we unpack our bulletproof guide to praiseworthy photos!
Last week we focused on the importance of understanding your client. It was one of the biggest lessons we had to learn in order to not suck as brand photographers! If you missed it, click the link above to read and catch up! Essentially, we needed to fully understand that shooting for a client’s brand meant focusing more on their brand and less on our style preferences. It’s about telling the brand’s story!
So how do you effectively plan and prepare to tell a brand’s story?
First, you have to have a conversation! You can’t understand a brand, let alone plan and prepare a shoot for them if you don’t take the time to get to know them. Think about it. If you have a significant other in your life, how did you find out their favorite ice cream flavor, favorite color, favorite number, or when to celebrate their birthday? You had a conversation and got to know them! (Side note: Would you believe Jon doesn’t have a favorite number or color? True story…Erica couldn’t believe it either…but at least she asked the questions!)
It’s the same with your branding clients. You have to really step into the fact that it’s your responsibility to get to know them! You have to ask intentional questions in order to discover things about their style, imagery preferences, and composition needs. And remember, since you are telling their story, you need to focus on the style of imagery they need to best represent their brand.
If you are a bright and airy photographer, they could need something outside of your normal style, so be sure to ask!
Now that you’ve finished ‘speed dating’ your client and really know them well, you have to set all of that new found knowledge in place. This is where we often see some people fall short and we have a theory as to why. Planning and preparing for a brand photo session almost never looks the same from one shoot to the next. It’s not like shooting a wedding where you grab your camera kit, a flat lay board, and a few styling pieces to level up your detail photos. In contrast, preparing for a brand photoshoot means coming up with a plan from the ground up every single time.
Think about it: are you going to bring the same gear to a session for a brand that wants dark, moody photos as you would for another client who wants light and bright photos? No! You may need to prepare lighting, modifiers, and other tools in advance.
In the same way, no two clients have the same goals for their photo shoots! One brand might be looking to create a variety of imagery quickly for a library of images for social media use while another might be looking for 10 final images to use on a national marketing campaign.
Preparing for those two sessions looks completely different. The social media content shoot involves multiple locations, tons of wardrobe changes, a massive variety of props and gear that will be quick and versatile. The national marketing campaign could involve one studio location over 2 days of shooting, full studio lighting, and gear that will produce steady and consistent results.
See how largely these shoots can vary? That’s why once you get to know your client and their brand needs, you have to, have to, have to plan and prepare for success!