How to Plan Outfits for Your Brand Photos
The number one question I receive when working with a personal brand client is:
How do I plan outfits for my brand photos?
Hands down the most asked about topic is all about outfits and what you should wear to your brand photos. And I can totally relate because it was the first question I asked myself!
Outfits and attire for personal branding photos is a tricky topic. Inevitably we wear what we're comfortable in and get to work. What's comfortable is rarely trendy and what's trendy is rarely what we'd lounge around the house in as small business owners.
So how do you show up authentically in a way that fits your brand and connects with your ideal client? Here are five ways you can prepare what you'll wear for your personal branding photos:
1. Think of Your Outfits in Levels
As you're planning attire for your personal brand photos, evaluate what you wear in various real-life work scenarios. Say you're meeting a potential client for the very first time in person. Then let's say you're showing up to work with a client for the fourth or fifth time. Finally, you're working from home and have two Zoom calls and five Reels to film. In these three scenarios, what do you see yourself wearing?
Odds are good that you'll wear something different in each of these scenarios. My guess is that you'd wear something more polished and professional in the first scenario, something more fun and casual in the second, and something relaxed in the third. These are the levels you should be thinking in for your brand photos.
Planning outfits that address different occasions give you range to fulfill various needs with your brand photos. What you show on social media versus a sales landing page may be two different styles, however, your library of brand photos can fill those two needs because you planned your outfits well.
Photo Example - Jorden Booth, Realtor: Jorden did an excellent job selecting outfits that fit different scenarios. Her professional client-facing outfit included a dress, high heels, and a denim jacket. Her day-to-day working outfit was a sweater and jeans, something she'd absolutely wear when attending a home inspection. Finally, her relaxed outfit consisted of yoga pants and a real estate-themed sweatshirt.
2. See Where You Can Create Transition Outfits
This is one of my favorite pieces of advice when it comes to planning outfits for brand photos - create transition outfits. So what is a transition outfit?
A transition outfit is a new look you create by using a portion of two different planned outfits. A good example would be you have a blazer, blouse, and slacks in the professional outfit and a button up and jeans in the casual outfit. A transition outfit could be just the blouse from the first outfit with the jeans of the second. And voila - a whole new outfit.
While it doesn't entirely take the place of a brand new outfit it will absolutely increase the versatility and variety in your brand photos.
The key to transition outfits is having good coordination in your original outfits. Colors, patterns, textures, and styles should vibe with each other. You should have a few neutral pieces that allow more fun pieces to stand out. Also, it's important to note that not every outfit change will warrant a transition outfit.
3. Incorporate Your Brand Colors Appropriately
Seems like a no-brainer, right? The key word being 'appropriately'. Yes, everything comes with fine print.
Quite often I see clients who want to saturate themselves in their brand colors because it seems like the right thing to do. Unless your brand is bold and colorful, I highly recommend you stay away from head-to-toe brand colors.
Instead, dress yourself in colors that are flattering and then find ways to incorporate pops of your brand colors within your outfits.
When picking out colors to wear, think of what works well for you as a person and then meshes well with your brand colors. Neutrals are always nice whether they're on the lighter side - creams, whites, light greys - or the darker side - black, navy, dark grey. You can also find a variety of clothing items in these colors and they'll coordinate well.
Then when you're ready to bring in your brand colors, find individual pieces and accessories for the subtle pop.
You'll thank yourself when you go to use these photos and overlay graphics and logos that are already in your brand colors. It's all about balance and thinking ahead!
Photo Example - Lindsey Beharry Design, Co: Lindsey's brand colors are teal and yellow. Very happy and joyful colors. She chose to incorporate these colors into her brand outfits by utilizing teal earrings and nail polish, along with a yellow blazer. What really helps her colors pop are the neutral colors she pairs them with in both her outfits and location settings.
4. Find Ways to Add Variety
Once you have the foundation to your outfits - the actual attire - get creative on how you can intentionally add variety to your outfits. Accessories, jewelry, and shoes all add variety to your outfits for brand photos.
Here's a few ideas to get your wheels turning:
Incorporate a light-weight jacket - whether it's a casual blazer or utility jacket, having one on hand makes it easy enough to put on or add to a photo as a prop.
Bring extra jewelry - swapping out jewelry in a close up photo can give the illusion of a different outfit. For example, if you're typing on the computer and swap your watch for a bracelet you can get more from that section of photos and speak to two different occasions (one giving a casual vibe, the other more professional).
Have hair accessories to use - barrettes, headbands, and clips can all be used to add variety to your hair style
Wear glasses? Bring your backup pair and swap between the two. Lightly tinted sunglasses can be an option if you're outside for photos. Remember, we want your viewer to connect with your eyes so nothing too dark!
Bags and purses serve as good accessories and props within photos. Giving the vibe that you travel or meet up with a client? Incorporating a bag can give your outfit and scene variety.
5. Think of Your Outfits Like a Collection
When you're thinking of your attire for brand photos, take a step back and look at everything you've picked out.
Ask yourself - how do these outfits, shoes, and accessories work together? Is there a nice balance between patterns, solids, and textures? Is there a piece or two that just doesn't look like the rest? Consider swapping it out for something more cohesive.
Having cohesive, nicely coordinated on-brand outfits has plenty of benefits. To name a few:
You can easily move pieces around between outfits and create those valuable transition outfits
Your final gallery will look polished and professional - motivating you to use those photos throughout your brand
Your brand photos have greater versatility within your marketing because they're a representation of your brand
Photo Example: This flatlay shows how an entire outfit and props can work together. You can clearly see how the colors work together, the textures all match, you can swap in jewelry for some variety - a very cohesive option.
6. Wear What You're Comfortable In
Almost so simple it would be obvious but the idea of wearing what we're comfortable in is often overlooked.
A quick scroll on Instagram and Pinterest will show us all the current trends and how to wear them. Naturally we feel compelled to keep up with what's in so that we feel relevant.
Avoid the imposter syndrome feeling at your brand photos and pick outfits you feel comfortable in and would wear in the real world. Then you're being authentically you!
Feeling comfortable in the outfits you pick for your brand photos will instantly elevate the finished product. You're relaxed and feel good which allows your genuine self to shine through.
Photo Example - Kara Capelli, Graphic Designer: Kara did an excellent job creating outfits for her brand photos that addressed different levels (like we discuss in the first point). What she also did really well was pick out outfits she felt comfortable in. Even going so far as to pick out a hoodie since that's what her ideal client would expect for someone in their industry to wear. She was comfortable and polished, creating the perfect outcome for her photos.
Planning Your Brand Photoshoot Outfits
Planning your outfits for your personal brand photos can be simplified when you apply these five tips.
Of course, always reach out to your brand photographer for advice. They have great insight from their experience shooting personal brand sessions.
About Emily Marcella for Creative Brands
Emily Marcella is a Northern Virginia Personal Brand Photographer serving creative small business owners. She helps personal brands and small businesses owners strategically create intentional marketing images to fulfill their digital and social media content marketing goals.