If you’re in the process of branding and designing your website and you want some great new portraits to complete your professional new brand image then I have put together some key things that will help you prepare for the shoot.
Getting a set of shiny new images might just be the most fun part of the whole branding process! Not to mention that it’s really important to get fabulous looking images so that your ideal customers will want to do business with you.
Finding a photographer
There are different ways to find a photographer, perhaps you know someone from networking, or a photographer has been recommended to you by a friend. It could be that a facebook group discussion has given you some names to look into. Take your time to do a bit of research and check out the photographer’s website and galleries to see if you actually like their work. If you do then arrange a chat, either on the phone or meet up in person if possible. It’s good to speak with the photographer to see if you’re a good fit for each other.
Check package details and things like how many images you’ll get and whether there are any extra costs or license fees.
Bring all your ideas to the discovery consultation – but don’t worry, at this stage many people don’t know what they want yet. You don’t have to come up with a plan all by yourself.
Together we can chat about what the images are for? What platform(s) are the images being used on? What your brand is all about? Do you have brand colours you like to have in the images. This will help me get ideas for what you’d like and make sure we’re on the same page.
Knowing where you will be using the images will help you get clarity on what you need. Firstly, browse your website and make a note of where images would fit in great.
”Consistency is key for your brand”
Next, see what orientation or sizing would work best, tall, wide, square… If you know you need a banner image that will be very wide, tell your photographer so they can capture that for you. It’s better to know this in advance because cropping the image later might lead to disappointing results when important bits are cut off.
Do you need to have your portrait taken at the side of the picture so there is room for text to be added later?
Check your editorial calendar, if you use one, and see what campaigns, blogs, posts you need to have imagery for – if you are organised enough to have planned a Christmas campaign 6 month ahead, then it’s worth considering if you’ll need a photo of you in a santa hat for instance. Consistency is key for your brand.
”You could have a selection of locations for your portraits – some indoor and some outside”
Create a secret board on Pinterest
I do this for my clients so we can share the kind of images you like and what you feel represents your brand. We can comment and add images so that my clients can see ideas and be inspired. Again, don’t worry about trying to find exact images of what you want – at this stage it’s really to get a feel of your brand and style preferences.
Where will these photographs take place?
Outdoors? City, beach or woodland backdrops all look great. Remember that outdoors will be weather dependant though. It’s not a problem to rearrange a shoot but something to keep in mind if you need to organise the shoot for a specific day.
Indoors? Your office, home, at a cafe or venue and perhaps you like the idea of solid colour backdrops which can be done in the studio. It will also be easier to change your outfit indoors too.
Refer back to your Pinterest board to see if you favour particular backdrops.
”Choose little prop details that help tell a story of your business”
Change of clothes and backdrops
You could have a selection of locations for your portraits – some indoor and some outside. Mixed with a few clothing / jacket swaps; this is ideal to create an illusion that the images were taken at separate photoshoots on different days. But really it’s all been captured in a matter of hours.
Props in your photographs
Accessories like, bags, scarfs, hats are useful to give you different looks. Maybe a laptop, cup of coffee ? Or perhaps something that’s very specific to your business. Some little details that help tell a story of your business may be great to capture especially if some are your brand colours.
Select props and try on your outfits at least a week in advance to make sure you’re really happy with your look. (refer back to your Pinterest board for ideas). Be sure to keep on brand, but you don’t need to actually wear you brand colours if they don’t suit your skin tone. You could book a stylist or colour analyst (check out Helen Lee to find out more about using colours ) to help you out with clothing ideas and also be on hand at the shoot too.
Book in hair appointments near the shoot date if you need a blow dry or your colour done. You could also have a makeup artist (see my Headshot Photography Makeovers blog) come along to the shoot to make sure you look your absolute best.
Confirm with you photographer the meeting time and address and pop an event reminder in your diary.
Confidence vs comfortable
I believe that feeling comfortable is just as important as being confident if not more so. Feeling prepared and doing this planning process will help you feel ready and excited for the shoot. Most of my clients tell me that they hate their photo taken so you’re not alone if you feel a little nervous. But one common thing is, that after the first 5 mins I always notice my clients begin to relax and feel more comfortable with being in front of the camera. By half way through the shoot their are normally well into the swing of things which is great because when you’re more at ease, authentic expressions start to appear.
I hope this has given you some great prep advice. If you’d like a checklist, download the Lifestyle Headshot Preparation Checklist here
Ideal for your own Linked In profile picture, or Meet-the-team corporate headshots for your staff. It’s a great session if you’re an actor, author or musician too. Really this is for anyone who needs a professional photo shoot but with minimum fuss and time out of your busy schedule.
20 minute studio, location or workplace session.
A range of head and shoulder poses for choice.
1 background and 1 outfit
Includes retouching of 3 images
Special price for meet-the-team shoots
2 x Payments of £50 (excluding travel)
Perfect for a selection of professional headshot portraits with varied poses and clothing to give you a range of different looks. These can be used across your social media and website to create a sophisticated and polished feel to your brand.
Includes a 1-2-1 consultation
45 minutes studio or location session.
Includes up to 3 outfit and 2 background changes
Includes retouching of 9 images
2 x Payments of £80 (excluding travel)
The branded lifestyle shoot
Want something more tailor-made and really authentic? My North East Lifestyle headshot portraits are perfect for representing you and your brand across all your marketing, and it’s so much more than just a headshot. It can be in the studio, at your workspace or home, in the city, beach or woods, or any other place in the area you’d like.
Includes a 1-2-1 consultation
Planning images for website pages or a brochure.
2 hour session
A range of headshot poses as well as 3/4 and full length
Outfit and background changes
Includes retouching of 15 images
Skype call to choose together which images should be used on which media.
So you’d like a headshot, but the question of ‘where to get headshots taken?’ is now an issue.
We’re so lucky in the NorthEast of England to have such a great variety of locations pretty much on our door step. So if anything, there’s too much choice.
Of course you could tootle off to get a cheap and cheerful headshot (that may or may not resemble a passport photo) and if that’s the case then you probably don’t need to read the rest of this article.
”How do you want to be perceived?”
But if you love the idea of having something different, stylish and a set of images that will make you and your business stand out then read on..
When it comes to planning the location of your portrait, this is where your branding plays a big part in the decision process. Have a think about how you want to represent yourself and your business.
Where is your business based? In the city, your home, the countryside, are you mobile? Is it important to you to show that in your images?
How do you want to be perceived? Friendly, professional, quirky?
These questions can be helpful when planning the location of your photoshoot. As I mentioned before there are a lot of possibilities; here are some examples…
Headshots At Home:
Photography in your home workspace is great to bring that personal touch into to your portrait images. It’s ideal if you’re a service provider working from home. It really helps people associate with you and understand your brand if you are creating wonderful things right from your kitchen table. There’s a real sense of showing people behind the scene with this style. It can play a very big part in your clients trusting your brand and getting to know you. these types of images are great use throughout your website.
Laura is a lifestyle blogger and brand coach. This was taken in her home.
Studio Style Headshot:
This type of shoot is great for a very professional and corporate look. By using a plain coloured paper backdrop there is no distractions and you can even choose to have similar colours to your branding should you want that. I have mobile studio lighting which I can set up in your office which saves time in your busy day.
Studio light is good for creating an extra radiant look and sparkle in your eyes. These type of headshots are often favoured by solicitors’ meet-the-team profiles, financial advisors, private medical teams, authors, and are also popular for Linked In profile pictures too.
Jacqui is an accountant. This was taken in my studio.
Headshots on location:
Photography at the countryside, park, beach or even your own back garden is a great choice and can work really well in most headshot portraits, especially if your brand values reflect health and wellbeing. But even accountants and solicitors, who want something different to studio headshots can use these types of scenes as an alternative. If you are a little nervous of being in front of the camera then this can be a more comfortable type of session for you. These types can be great across social media platforms and your website.
Laura’s brand is all about skincare and nutrition. We took this in the woods.
Bev is an artisan chocolate maker. This is in her back garden.
City and urban:
Using city architecture as a backdrop is great for an alternative to corporate studio headshots. It’s less formal but it still looks professional, and perhaps makes you look more approachable and modern. Often businesses who work in the city or meet clients there use this type of setting for their photoshoot. It’s a bonus if your own office doorway or building can be used in the background scene but not necessary. Again these work well for all social media profiles and your website.
Johanna is a consultant. This was taken in the city.
Other urban locations may be more your taste if you want something different. Perhaps some abstract colours and patterns represent your brand really well. Colourful outdoor images will look great on your website and can bring so much personality and story telling to your brand.
This was from a fashion shoot but shows how some urban areas can create cool backdrops
So have I given you some ideas? If you need anymore info or would like to see some more examples of locations, then check out my headshot galleries
In this guest blog Hollie Ellis, a graphic designer explains that if you want branded lifestyle headshots to match in with your business values then planning is very important. Here is 4 tips on how to do it..
”If you’ve never had some branded lifestyle headshots taken before, don’t worry. There will be a lot of other business owners out there in the exact same position. Having professional lifestyle headshots are really important when it comes to branding you and and your business and if you’ve never done it before, the idea can seem really nerve-wracking.
I bet the following thoughts will be running through your head: what should I wear, how should I do my make up, could I get a make up artist or just do it myself. Should I wear something smart or something I’m more comfortable in. I don’t want it to look too casual. I need to lose weight! How should I sit. Ahhh I’ve never done this before…
You get the gist!
I am here to tell you to take a deep breath, relax and it will all be fine.
As a freelance graphic designer, I absolutely LOVE working with professional photographs. They can do so much for you and your business. Stock photos are great, but they’ll never exude your brand the way you want them too. However, with professional photographs you can do just that – get everything about you and your brand across that is unique to you within a series of images.
I recently worked with a client of mine to do just that and I have some top tips to share with you before you get any branded lifestyle headshots taken. Preparation is key!
” Preparation is key!”
1. Brand Colours
The first thing you need to do is to sit and really think about your brand and what it’s all about. Think about the visual aspects of your brand in terms of colours. How can you get these into the headshots in a subtle way? Could it be through what you wear, any props or accessories like jewellery, your bag etc. Or could it be through your make up and nail polish. There’s so many ways in which you can inject your brand colours into photos.
2. Create a Theme
You also need to think about your brand values and how you want people to feel about you and your brand. If you want your brand to look and feel friendly, quirky and approachable then that needs to come across in your headshots. The same if you want your brand to look and feel professional, loyal and sincere. This in turn will help you create a theme for your photoshoot and this will also really help the photographer too.
3. Research & Moodboard
This is my favourite part of preparing for a photoshoot. Headshots means you need to relax and also be in a comfortable pose at the same time, but if you don’t know how to hold yourself and you end up feeling awkward in front of the camera – this is going to show! Trust me.
”have a look for inspiration
and create a moodboard that way”
Doing some research before your headshot is vital and also a great way of generating ideas. So now you are clear on your brand colours and also the theme for your photoshoot and how you’d like your brand to look and feel through the photos, you need to visualise this. This will not only help you, but this will really help the photographer too. There’s two ways in which you can do this… First of all you could buy some of your favourite magazines and have a look in those for inspiration and create a moodboard that way.
Alternatively, why not create a secret Pinterest board and start pinning with your colours and theme in mind. This can be a massive help. You can search for almost anything on Pinterest and there’s loads of headshots inspiration on there too. This will help you think about what you’d like, the types of photos you’d want to get from the photoshoot and in terms of how to hold yourself too. You’ll feel a lot less awkward and being relaxed will come across on the photos in such a lovely way.
Once you’re done pinning, share the secret board with your photographer. The more they know about what you’re after in terms of the look and feel, the better for them too and it’ll make their lives a lot easier. You will both be on the same page and you’ll both get the most out of the photoshoot at the same time. I’d recommend doing this 1-2 weeks before the photoshoot so you’re fully prepared and have a clear idea as to what you’d like.
Then all those other questions swimming around in your head will be answered and you’ll feel more confident knowing you’ve hit the ground running.
4. Discuss your Pinterest Board
Make sure you discuss your Pinterest board with your photographer too, not just share it with them. They need to know what you’re thinking and they will be able to bounce ideas off you too which you may not have thought of.
This is the exact process I went through recently with a client of mine and the photos from the photoshoot are amazing. They are exactly how we envisaged them and having prepared everything beforehand helped massively.
If you have any questions at all about branding, please don’t hesitate in contacting me. Hollie
Hollie Ellis Design
I’m a freelance graphic designer in Newcastle upon Tyne with clients all over the UK and further afield, ranging from sole traders to large corporations. I specialise in branding, logo deign and print design and with 10 years experience within the design industry I know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to branding businesses.
To find out more, please visit www.hollie-ellis.co.uk or contact me via email: hollie@hollie- ellis.co.uk
I asked copywriter Michelle Nicol to talk about what branding means to her. She kindly wrote me a guest blog with a great exercise included on how to you use your brand to represent your business. Michelle tells all….
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
That quote by Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos is often used in discussions about brand. I think it’s a useful one because it points to a truth that can often be missed when thinking about your business brand.
Brand isn’t about logo, or colours, or messages and straplines. It’s about inspiring human connections and emotions. How do people feel about doing business with you?
Don’t believe me? Let me try an experiment with you…
What do you think of if I say ‘Ryanair’? What associations come to mind?
How about if I say ‘Virgin Airlines?
Both companies offer the same service (flying people from A to B), but chances are you’ll think of those two brands very differently, even if you’ve never flown with them.
Try another pairing. How about Disney and Looney Tunes? Again, two companies that produce family entertainment, but two subtly different brands.
What does this mean for a small business brand?
You may be thinking it’s all very well for big companies who can afford to spend a fortune on marketing to ensure that their brand is at the forefront of your mind, but what about me and my small business?
Small businesses do have an advantage over some of the big brands because we know our business relies on us as people doing business with other people. And because we can control what we say and do to reflect our own business brand.
How do I represent my business brand?
Think about how and where your business brand appears. Chances are you’ll have a website. You may have a shop or regularly appear at events and conferences. You may have a presence in social media platforms.
When you’re in the same room as other businesses and prospective customers, you give off lots of clues about the kind of business you represent. At networking and other events, it comes through in the way that you dress, whether you’re approachable or aloof, how you speak and interact with people, as well as what you say in person and through your marketing materials.
Now think about your regular everyday business. How do you communicate with your customers? Through your website, social media, telephone, email or newsletters?
When you’re not physically face-to-face in the room with your customers, communication loses some of those extra nuances.
Speaking on the phone, people can’t see whether you’re in your pyjamas or wearing a suit and tie, but they will judge from your tone of voice and what you say whether or not they feel you’re dealing with them in a professional manner.
When it comes to communications that are largely written, such as emails, newsletters and social media posts, customers can’t hear your tone.
”Do you want people to think
of your business as professional?”
How many times have you read a text or message and thought it was a bit off-hand? They might have thought it was funny or sarcastic, but without the clues in their voice, it’s easily misinterpreted.
That’s why, when it comes to written communications for your brand, your words have to work really hard. Without all those outside influences to back them up, you have to make sure your brand message is clear and consistent.
How do I do make sure my brand message is clear?
Here’s a quick exercise to help you think about how you represent your brand when you’re not there in person.
Think about what you would like your ideal customers to say about your business. What kind of words would you like them to use?
Do you want people to think of your business as professional? How about friendly? Approachable? Quirky? Stylish? Exclusive? Kid-friendly? Value for money? Or something else?
Write down the top 3 or 4 adjectives that you think best sum up your business brand from a customers’ point of view.
Now ask some of your customers to describe your business brand in 3 or 4 words.
Score 2 points for any words that exactly match the adjectives you chose. Score 1 for any that are similar. Score -2 for any that are the exact opposite.
Add up your scores. A positive result shows that you’re on the right track. A negative one indicates that you have work to do.
Taking time to think about how the words you use on your website, in social media and throughout the whole of your marketing mix can give you a good insight into how you present your business brand.”
If you need some help finding the right words to represent your brand and attract customers, then a copywriter, like Michelle Nicol, can help you.