Personal branding is the intersection of business and personal identity. Your personal brand is how you show yourself to the world, portraying the values and traits you want people to identify with you. It’s all about how you want to be perceived by others.
While your personal brand is about you, that image becomes crucial in a business setting, and this is especially true for small business owners. In this day and age, people aren’t just buying a product or service—they’re buying the person behind it, too. This is why personal branding is so important; it puts you—or the version of yourself you’ve cultivated to portray to clients— in front of your ideal client, making your product or service more persuasive and more personable.
Personal branding photos are the ultimate way of portraying yourself to those who look at your brand, convincing them to invest in you and your product or service. Photos are likely the first introduction someone will get to you and your brand, and it’s crucial to make a strong first impression. A professional personal branding photoshoot ensures you’ll have beautiful, impactful photos to share across platforms, putting your best foot forward for your target client.
As an experienced Boston personal branding photographer, I know a thing or two about what goes into the perfect personal branding photos. So without further ado, here’s everything you need to know to have a successful personal branding photoshoot!
Before taking a single personal branding photo, you need to understand and define your brand. What adjectives do you want people to associate with you and your brand? What are your brand values and personality? What market do you want to serve? Who is your target client, and what impact do you want to have on them? These are all important questions to consider when thinking about your personal brand, and your answers will guide the decisions you make before, during, and after your personal branding photoshoot.
Think about how you want people to feel when they encounter you and your brand. Now remember this feeling, and consider how you might be able to evoke that through your personal branding photography.
Now that you understand your brand, you need to understand the purpose of your branding photos. Just as in any successful marketing initiative, to have a successful personal branding photoshoot you need to understand your goals first. What audience will these photos target, and where—will you use them on your website, your social media, your promotional materials? All of the above? How can you tailor your content to fit these different mediums?
These questions will not only help you create more targeted photos, but they will also help make technical decisions in your photography too. For example, if you tell your photographer that these photos are only going to be used on Instagram, they can shoot mainly vertical photos so each photo takes up the most space on an Instagram feed. Understanding why and where your photos will be used sets you up for success before you even begin shooting.
The purpose of your photoshoot is clearly defined, and now you’re ready to find a photographer to capture your dream branding photos. Here are a few things you should consider when choosing a personal branding photographer:
If your brand is bright and colorful, you don’t want a photographer who edits their photos dark and moody—and vice versa. Thoroughly view your photographer’s portfolio on their website and social media accounts to get a holistic understanding of how they shoot and edit. This will ensure that the final images you create with them can blend seamlessly with the rest of your branding materials.
Yes, you want to find a photographer who creates beautiful work, but this isn’t the only thing you should think about. You don’t just want someone whose photos look good—you want someone who is knowledgeable on personal branding photography, your local area, and maybe even your niche. You want to make sure you find a photographer who can make the entire photoshoot process easier for you by helping with planning, guiding you through poses, and overall being well-informed about the type of photography you need.
Lastly, you should look for someone who’s local to Massachusetts, or even to your specific town or city. This person will be able to suggest the best potential locations for your shoot, plus you’ll avoid extensive travel fees. Of course, there are exceptions—don’t pass over your perfect photographer just because they’re a state away, but know there are SO many amazing photographers in Massachusetts who can create stellar personal branding photos for you.
Now it’s time to decide where you want to shoot your personal branding photos. Do you want to shoot on location, or in a studio? This answer will likely depend on your brand identity and the purpose of your photos; photos taken outside in nature will elicit different feelings than photos taken inside a clean studio.
Keep in mind that while you can shoot in your office or in your typical workplace, you certainly don’t have to. There are plenty of studios that simulate office space—saving you the trouble of having to make your own space photoshoot-ready.
Also, remember that you’re not on your own here—your photographer should be able to provide location recommendations based on what you’re looking for, and may even have a studio of their own. Use them to help make this process easier!
Creating a moodboard is one of my personal favorite steps in the branding photoshoot process. A moodboard is a collection of images, textures, and words intended to serve as inspiration for your photoshoot. Creating a moodboard helps you understand the vibe of your photoshoot, and provides the perfect place to hold those inspiration images that you want to keep in mind or even emulate at your own shoot.
I recommend using Pinterest to put together a virtual moodboard. You can pin anything you like to your board, and it’s super easy to share with your photographer to help them gain a more complete understanding of what you’re looking for in your photoshoot.
When choosing outfits, select pieces that complement your brand colors as well as your photoshoot location. Consider not only your clothes, but also how you’ll wear your hair and do your makeup. Additionally, your outfits should be pieces you actually wear so you don’t feel stiff; if you feel uncomfortable in your outfit, it will show in your photos. If you’re not a power suit person, don’t feel like you need to don a blazer just because you saw someone else wear one in their photos! Aim for pieces that both look and feel good on you.
Make sure to select your outfits for shoot day well in advance; you don’t want to be rushing to do laundry or running out to the mall for the perfect accessory on the day of your photoshoot. You should aim to know exactly what you’ll be wearing at your shoot at LEAST a couple days before, so you can set everything aside and avoid last-minute stress.
In addition to your outfits, make sure you plan out and purchase any prompts you want to use in your photos, and have them ready to go before the shoot. Some props I commonly recommend bringing are items like a notebook and pen, your laptop, a coffee mug, etc—all items that you can easily implement in personal branding photos. Ultimately, this is specific to your personal brand, so bring props that make sense for you!
Before showing up to your photoshoot, you should have an understanding of the shots you want to capture. Examples of typical images you might want to capture at a personal brand photoshoot are updated headshots, photos of you “working”, candid photos of you, and detail shots.
While you can definitely have a full-on shot list of exactly the shots you need, it’s not always necessary—you should be able to trust the right photographer to capture all these shots based on your moodboard and what you’ve discussed pre-shoot.
Personal branding is about you, so it’s important to remember to be yourself at your photoshoot. These photos are not meant to be serious, uncomfortable headshots. Don’t be afraid to smile and laugh, or get a little bit silly if it fits with your brand! Showing your personality while keeping your photos in line with your brand identity is the key to a successful photoshoot.
Armed with these ten steps, you’re now ready to have the personal branding photoshoot of your dreams. Show up on shoot day ready to create images that are aligned with you and your brand identity—and have fun doing it!
This is a contributed piece published by Kayla Simon, owner of Kayla Simon Photos. Kayla is a Boston-based photographer who specializes in creative and editorial portraits. With an artistic and authentic feel, her work aims to uplift the subject and showcase their inherent beauty. When she’s not behind the camera, she loves trying new coffee shops, reading poetry books, and enjoying the live music scene in Boston!
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