The Make-or-Break Secret to a Successful Brand Photoshoot | Erica + Jon Photography







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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The Make-or-Break Secret to a Successful Brand Photoshoot

If you’ve followed along with us for any length of time, you likely know that part of what we preach is that a successful brand shoot is 50% preparation and 50% execution. Those aren’t equal parts either. Anything less than an intentional and well planned preparation effort will make it nearly impossible to execute well, so they are directly tied to each other. It’s why we spend so much time talking about preparation with our clients, and why we stress the importance of it so much here when we talk with you. And, it’s exactly what we’re focusing on when we talk about our make or break secret to a successful brand shoot!

Work with us here for a minute….close your eyes and imagine….wait, no. Don’t close your eyes. That prevents you from reading! So, open your eyes, read on, and imagine booking your absolute ideal branding client. The perfect client that ticks every box on your ideal client checklist. We mean every box. Right down to the tv show they binge on Netflix and their favorite ice cream flavor (cookies + cream, of course). Perfection. 

You pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming, call your best friend to #humblebrag about the opportunity, and then get to work nervously getting ready for the session. You show up with your face beaming, your spirits high, and the best intentions of absolutely killing the photo session. And that’s about where the good vibes stop…

**Cue the downer moment** :/

You realize your client, though ideal, has no idea how to get prepared for their photoshoot. They arrive with multiple outfit ideas, but not quite enough variety…and that’s the least of the problems. Some of the wardrobe items were picked up the day before and still have fold lines and tags on them. Others have been worn before and weren’t ironed in advance. And that’s just the wardrobe.

To make things worse, she wasn’t exactly sure what to bring for props, so she didn’t bring anything. Nothing. All you have to work with is what she has with her everyday: a purse, cellphone, sunglasses, and lip gloss.

Slowly your heart begins to sink as you realize that the shoot you have been looking forward to is collapsing in front of your eyes. The client you hoped to serve well, not to mention the images you wanted to create for your portfolio, just got a whole lot more difficult to create.

You awkwardly stumble through the session counting down the minutes until it’s finally over and as you leave the session with your spirits sunk and your head down low, you wonder where things went wrong. You thought this client was ideal. How did it all end up this way? And where did the blame fall anyways? Was it the fault of the client? She didn’t come prepared after all…

To make matters worse, when you deliver the final gallery, already feeling cruddy about the amount of variety you were able to deliver, you get an email response that makes you slide deep into your chair and wishing you had a way to make it all disappear and questioning what made you think this client was ideal in the first place.

Your client hoped for specific images for her website that you didn’t deliver. But you had no idea she needed them. No hero banner image for her website header. No tall vertical images for her sidebar promotion campaign. Total disaster.

If you’ve been here before, you know the feeling. It sucks. We’ve been there and felt it too, which is why we can tell that story so well.

And to be honest, when we walked away from a similar situation and asked ourselves the question, “Who’s fault is this anyway?”, the answer we stumbled on made us feel even worse.


We realized that this was an issue we needed to own, 100%.

WE were the expert brand photographers…

WE were the ones offering a photoshoot full of variety…

…so ultimately, WE were the ones responsible to educate our clients on what it takes to prepare for a brand photoshoot.

This one fell steeply within our court.

It was the moment that we realized we needed to take responsibility and come alongside our clients to walk them through the preparation process.

Remember what we said at the beginning? A successful brand photoshoot is 50% preparation and 50% execution, but failing to prepare will directly impact execution.

We HAD to carry the weight of preparation with our clients if we wanted to ensure the ability to execute on their vision well.

Preparation involves talking with your clients about how to prepare well. It means making them aware of all of the things they will need to make their shoot a success. Things you know about as the professional branding photographer, but they have no clue about!

You’ll want to talk in advance with your client about:

  • Wardrobe Selection + Preparation
  • Prop Selection + Preparation
  • Shot Lists
  • Composition Notes
  • Location Planning
  • Timelines
  • Specific Themes or Promotions

Simply talking through these items helps to make your client aware of everything that goes into a brand photo shoot and opens their eyes to the ways they should consider preparing.

So if you related to that sad story above, just like we do, then it’s time to shake off the dreaded feeling of failure and take on the incredible feeling of success, knowing that you accurately captured everything your client hoped for and delivering a gallery that will not only complement your own portfolio, but leave your client RAVING about you!

Oh, before we go…are you looking for more specific information on how to prepare for a brand session, or anything else related to brand photography? Join us in our Facebook Group and learn directly from us and bounce ideas off of other like-minded brand photographers!

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