Good brand photography takes intentional planning and preparation. Rarely do you just show up, if ever. Pretty please don't just show up 😅
Recently, I've had a couple conversations with a common theme - getting overwhelmed planning for brand photos. I totally get this and feel it on all levels.
If you're like me where you focus on the details and love to plan, plan, plan, only to find yourself getting sucked in to the preparation while loosing sight of the purpose. Then nothing goes to plan, etc. etc.
Or maybe you're the opposite and planning kills the mood for you so you'd rather skip it. What's this life like??
Either way I have three tips to help no matter where you fall on the planning spectrum.
Start By Working Backwards
If all you take from this blog post is that one headline, then you will be less overwhelmed.
Yes, it is as simple as that. Work backwards through the planning process to find clarity in the clouds of overwhelm.
Now, I know you're more thorough than just reading one headline and walking away so read these three tips for a less overwhelming planning experience:
Tip #1: Determine the End Game
When your final gallery is delivered - what is the main purpose for using your photos?
Generally it falls into two categories. Content marketing and brand marketing. Since that's probably not what they would teach you in school, allow me to share my thought process.
First - Content marketing with brand photos. This is using your brand photos to support your content marketing. Likely you've identified your marketing pillars and want to create brand images that support and illustrate those pillars. The content you generate would then be shared through your marketing channels - blog, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.
If you're looking to support your content marketing with brand photos, then the goal would be to focus on how you would illustrate those pillars. Focus more on what you offer and how you do what you do. Ideas around these points - focus on your creative process, how you interact with a client, and what the end result will look like.
Second - brand marketing with intentional imagery. This is using your brand photos for visual identity. If you're a personal brand - where you are the brand - then the focus is on you. When a viewer is scrolling through social media, a quick glimpse of your photo will prompt the association to your brand and what you do.
If you're looking to support your brand marketing, then the goal would be to keep everything on-brand. Focus on keeping your images visually cohesive, bring through the values you want your brand to convey, and the emotions you want your ideal client to feel when they see your photos.
Of course, these two purposes will overlap but for the sake of the brand session you are currently planning, define one end game. You can and should book another session later down the road to build on your brand photo library while addressing marketing needs.
Tip #2: Determine Your Priorities
Now that you've put thought into what the end game is for your photos in tip #1, take that focus on determine what your top priorities are for this session.
Notice I underlined top? Yes, that's because it's easy to think that every idea for your session is a priority - which is how the overwhelm started in the first place.
A good way to go about this is to actually write out all of the ideas swirling around your mind. Then with your end game in mind (from tip #1) go through and rank your ideas.
Building on the end game focus will help you narrow down what your top priorities are.
Did you determine that content marketing was your priority? Great! Your top priorities to illustrate should be centered around the three to five content pillars in your business. Evaluate these pillars. What do you want to continually discuss and share in your content marketing? What upcoming marketing initiatives or new offerings do you want to promote? Plan visuals and props around these concentrations.
Maybe brand marketing is the reason you're having this session. Then the focus should be to keep everything visually cohesive and presenting your business well. Spend your planning time bringing together coordinated outfits, find a location that vibes with your brand, and spend time really thinking about the emotions and values you want to come through in your photos. All while keeping in mind what connects and resonates with your ideal client.
By narrowing down what you'll focus on in your session, you can then give your best effort to prepare specifically for those images.
Tip #3: Determine What's Realistic
Likely, this is your first brand session so you may be going into this not knowing what to actually expect during your session. That's perfectly fine!
Going into your session with realistic expectations will instantly increase your success.
Take into account the various features of your session and realistically plan around them. I'll break this down using the features in my brand photography services:
Length of Time - Time will be the biggest factor for determining what's realistic in your session. Whether you're planning for a 90-minute session or a four-hour session, it's important note that time is finite. Shooting will be the bulk of your time, however, set-up, transition, and break-down time will need to be accounted for. When planning for your top priorities, plan for one priority every 30 minutes.
Location - Where you take your photos will also determine what's realistic. Identify what elements you'll need out of your space to fulfill your top priorities and see how your location compares. For example, if your brand depends on a kitchen for your photos, then find a home with a photogenic kitchen. Need more blank space for your photos? A studio rental may be key.
Inspiration Boards - Finding inspiration in others work is a great way to communicate ideas and styles you'd like to uniquely create for your brand photos. However, like all things on social media, you'll want to take your inspiration photos with grain of salt. Algorithms will put the best, most popular, content in your feed and there's no way of knowing exactly how that photo was produced (ie. team size to create that image, budget behind the session, differences in creative talents, etc.). For the best results, look at your inspiration board and draw high-level themes with your photographer. Identify the emotions you want to convey, actions you can take that make sense with your business, the color scheme you'd like to stick to, etc.
Energy + Enthusiasm - While not a feature defined in a package, your energy and enthusiasm plays a huge role. You are, after all, the talent in front of the camera. You want to feel your best and bring energy to your session. Simplify and focus on the top priorities so that you can go into your session with excitement knowing you'll capture great photos.
Ultimately, this brand photo session will be just one of many. Keep an open mind and maintain realistic expectations going into your session. You'll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome!
Avoid the Overwhelm When Planning Your Brand Photos
Your brand photographer will guide you along the process and will hopefully offer a strategy for planning, preparing, and executing your session. If you still find yourself getting overwhelmed in the planning process, remember to start by working backwards.
First, figure out how you'll use your brand photos, move into what your top priorities are for the end use, and then evaluate your expectations to see what is most realistic.
Before you leave this post - know that you're doing great things for your business. As you continue to use your brand photos, you will see a return on the time, effort, and investment in these photos.
About the Photos You See in This Post
Someone who absolutely rocked her brand photos is Erin of Erin Thompson Photography. Erin was celebrating her one year anniversary in business and was ready to take brand photos. We connected over our love of The Grinch in a photography group. When we first met, she was located in Arizona and was anticipating an Air Force move to Northern Virginia.
Erin wanted to incorporate her brand photos throughout her website and social media content. We focused on her superior client experience and education, how she and her ideal client share a love of printing their photos, and her strong connection with other military families.
We took her photos at Studio 428 in Leesburg, Virginia. This photography studio serves as a beautiful blank canvas with abundant natural light.
Interested in how Erin has used her brand photos? Check her out on Instagram and cheer her on!
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.