How to prepare for your personal brand shoot


It’s very rare to find someone who loves to have their headshot photos taken so I’m sure it won’t shock you to hear the majority of my female entrepreneurs, actually find the whole process intimidating, and quite frankly, terrifying!

They don’t know what to expect or what to wear, they feel uncomfortable at the thought of having to pose in what might be an unnatural position and have no idea what preparation they need to do.

Well this is where I come in. Having worked as a personal brand photographer for over three years I have seen how headshot photography has changed and evolved into what is now known as personal brand photography or relaxed headshot photography, I know my clients are going to walk in with at least a modicum of hesitation or fear, and why wouldn’t they? It’s not like we do this sort of thing every day.

This is why it is so important to me that I spend the first part of our session putting their mind at ease and creating a comfortable environment, where they can just show their true character. By the end of the session the nerves have gone and their personality is there for all to see.

Now I know what you are thinking, “It’s easy for her to say, she takes photos every day so it’s second nature to her”. Well this could not be further from the truth. I have always felt much more at ease behind a camera than I do in front of one! In fact, I recently had my own personal brand photography shoot (after putting it off for years I might add) and I had the same anxiety I have experienced with each of my clients. And like all of my clients, I felt completely relaxed by the end of it.

I can honestly say, I loved putting myself in my clients’ shoes! Experiencing all the elements of preparing for a personal brand photography shoot and planning how I wanted to use my brand images to support my business. In fact, I can’t wait to do it all again as I now have so much content to promote myself and attract more work.

This led me to think how I could prepare you for your personal brand shoot and what advice I would give. So here are my top ten tips to ensure you not only enjoy the experience, but capture the images you want for your business.

1. Find The Right Photographer For You

You want to work with a photographer who will capture your personality and brand story. Spend time with them, talk to them, ensure you feel comfortable with them and you feel they will understand how best to direct you on the day and bring out the very best in you. Remember you are investing your time and money so you want to ensure you are spending both wisely.
Personal_Brand_photography_shoot_for_a_business_owner for a gift giving website

2. Create A Mood Board

  • Before you book an appointment with a photographer, it’s helpful for you to have an idea of what you are hoping to achieve with the images. The best way to do this is by creating a mood board. They are so simple to do and most people create them on Pinterest so they can share them easily and add notes to each image. Keep in mind the more your photographer knows about you and your brand upfront, the easier it will be you both to create images that match your brand.

  • By creating a mood board, you are providing visual inspiration for the look and feel of the images you as the client, what the photographer to create. You don’t even have to keep to your industry, you can seek inspiration from outsider brands, who market themselves in a style that speaks to you. Perhaps a look that differs from those in your industry.

  • I will always work with my clients to create a mood board, especially if a client is uncertain as to what they want. I will ask as many questions as I can about their business so I have a real understanding of their journey and brand messages. From here, I can then make suggestions for photography set ups and help to get their mood board started.

  • I find the easiest way to review an image and get a feel for what you want is by looking at the Poses, Backdrops, Composition, Facial Expressions, Colour and Lighting. You can then make a note on the image you’ve pinned/saved, detailing which of those aspects really speak to you.

  • Once your mood board is complete, you can then identify which photographers will be right for you by looking at their portfolio and seeing if they can create your vision. I have Personal Brand Mood boards all ready created on Pintrest if you need inspiration.

3. Make a Photography Shot List

Once you have booked your photographer and created a mood board the next step is to create a ‘photography shot list’. This is to ensure you have a list of all your key images and where you wish to use them e.g. website ‘About Me’ page, Instagram etc.

By having a shot list, you have a better understanding of the image sizes you require, as one size does not fit all I’m afraid. Speak to your photographer if you need specific sized images, such as:

  • Images with Negative Space – this allows you to add captions over your images.

  • Images for About Me website page / Social Media Profiles (the space for the social media profiles are quite small do you want to fill the frame with a headshot style image or show a more lifestyle image)

  • Website Wide Images – the images that stretch across the whole home page.

  • Instagram Images – they need to be specifically square.

  • Facebook Cover Image.

  • Images for Print.
This won’t stop your photographer from being spontaneous on the day, it just means, key images will not be forgotten and you have a clearer idea of how many outfit and location changes will be required. Think of your shot list as a storyboard, with each image having a purpose, a business message or narrative which will take your followers on a journey with you.

4. Clothing

Clothes play a key role in your business images as they tell a visual story to your clients of who you are, what you do and what your brand stands for. They should reflect your personality and leave you feeling confident and comfortable.

I recommend choosing outfits for your shoot that make sense with the story we are wanting to tell, in each location we use. Think about what you would wear to meet with an ideal client for the first time, how smart or casual you like to show up, and what you feel most ‘yourself’ in. I always suggest writing out a list of words to best describe your business and your personal style.

For example:

We can then use this list to plan your outfits and locations and start to build your image library.

One thing I cannot stress enough is; clothes do not always look the same in a photo, as they do in a mirror. Loose or billowy outfits can sometimes look less flattering in photographs, so try to wear outfits that are more fitted around the waist to give you a nice silhouette.

A good selection of outfits gives a greater variety of images which means you have different looks for different marketing messages. The same can be said for locations and settings so really give your outfits some thought, based on which environment you will be photographed in.

I am a firm believer in clients taking the time to plan their shoots and we will have at least two planning calls before the ‘big day’ to finalise all the details.

5. Brand Colours

Clients often ask if they should wear their brand colours for their shoots. I would say, as long as the colour suits you and you feel happy wearing it, then go for it! Integrating the colours into your clothing or location will only add to your brand story. I’m happy to give honest advice if you wish to wear your brand colours and can make suggestions as to how you can subtly include them thorough accessories, props or in the location background.

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