The most productive shoots happen when the photographer and the client collaborate well and prepare in advance. By the time shoot day rolls around you both know exactly what you want and how you’re going to get it. In detail. There’s less faffing and more fun photographing, which means a wider variety of shots and a really enjoyable day for both parties.

So, here are 10 tips to help you get the most from your personal branding shoot.

1. Communication

I’m big on communication and planning, so here’s what I suggest you discuss with your photographer:

  • Your brand colours, vibe and vision.
  • What you do and where you work – home, office, coffee shops etc.
  • Where you want to use the photos.
  • Your ideal clients – who are they, where are they and are you reaching them now.

Very importantly – you need to establish ahead of time that you want watermark free images. You’ll also need to have the rights to adjust the images – you may want to overlay text, change into black and white, crop etc etc. 

Photographers are protective over images we’ve created, because we’re booked for our style and our style is part of our brand. But personal branding photography is different from any other genre – it’s about your style. As a result I give my clients full permission to edit.

You’ll also need full commercial rights to use the images anywhere you wish, however many times you wish. The only thing you can’t do is resell the images as the copyright belongs to your photographer.

2. Mood board 

I feel mood boards are essential when planning a personal branding shoot. How else are you going to see inside someone’s head?

Use Pinterest to source ideas and create a general look and vibe that you want for your shoot. It works well if you create a group board for just you and your photographer to populate and leave comments.

For the details and a deeper investigation of my client’s brand I have a questionnaire. It is the starting point for getting to know my client and their vision. On a practical level, it also contains all contact information and addresses – physical, website and social media.

3. Locations

Most importantly, your location choices must make sense to your brand. For example, if your band is wholesome, somewhere outdoors is good. If it is funky or edgy, an urban background is ideal. In addition, choose places that are meaningful to you, places you like to hang out, or places that inspire you.

Plan locations well in advance – when you have a plan you can pace the day to ensure you get it all done. If you’re using a coffee shop, speak to the staff first and get their permission to photograph there. It makes it much easier on the day.

Some trendy coffee shops in London actually cater for photography in their decor, because they know it will end up on Instagram. That’s how I found Farm Girl Cafe in Portobello Road, Peggy Porschen Cakes in Belgravia and Clerkenwell Grind, among others.

That said, while walking around be aware of doors, windows, posters and walls that could make great backgrounds. Keep an eye out for your brand colours.

4. Shot list

It’s so easy to get lost in the moment and miss out on important elements. If you have a (written) plan going in it is easy to double check along the way that you’re getting everything you want. But don’t make it a long prescriptive shot list where you have to get each one on the list, because all creativity and spontaneity will fly out the window.

Create a basic list and then embellish as you go. So, things like:

  • working at the computer
  • walking the dog
  • running
  • having coffee
  • chatting on the phone
  • making a salad
  • hands and keyboard, hands holding a coffee cup etc

Again, you’ll find Pinterest a great source of inspiration for deciding on your shot list.

5. Wardrobe

Choose clothing that will suit the image you wish to project. It is better to wear fitted clothing rather than thin floaty outfits. A flowy dress looks great when it is moving, as in real life, but when it is still it can make you look shapeless. If flowy is what you wear, then go for it, but then ensure you pose with its limitations in mind.

Select a choice of outfits with different necklines for variety. Choose some casual outfits, some more businessy or sporty or dressy. Whatever your style, ensure you include all facets of who you are.

Designs distract from your face so it is best to go with solid colours and avoid strong patterns. You can wear dots and stripes, but avoid thin, close together stripes as they go weird in digital images. It’s called aliasing.

Yellow and green can adversely affect skin colour, so make sure they don’t form a large part of your outfit, especially close to your face.

Lastly, ensure all potentially visible labels are removed ahead of time. If you wear a thin top, the label lower down on the side with the washing instructions could be visible. If you remove it, it won’t accidentally show in images. If you don’t want to remove it, be very aware of where it is so that you pose accordingly.

6. Accessories

Accessories change an outfit quickly and easily, which gives you greater variety in your images without any effort. Variety is key for personal branding photography. Here are some examples:

  • hats
  • scarves
  • jewellery
  • jackets

7. Props

Props are great, but generally I’d say use them for your at home and office shots only. Carrying props when you’re out and about gets tiring and will slow you down.  Here are some popular ones:

  • Laptop, notebook, books, stationery
  • Photogenic food such as cupcakes, colourful fruit and veg
  • On brand coffee mugs
  • Blank cards or frames for overlaying with text later
  • Balloons
  • Flowers

8. Manicure

Hands are very important in photographs and feature far more often than you may realise, so a manicure is a great idea. Choose a nail colour that works for your brand and the outfits you’ve chosen. At the very least, make sure your nails are neat and tidy. 

9. Hair and Makeup

I can’t recommend the services of professionals enough! If you’re great at doing your own hair, then go for it, but remember that you may need to tidy it as the shoot progresses. Especially if it is windy.

I believe a good makeup artist is essential. They are trained in contouring and applying makeup for photography, which involves a heavier application than you’re used to, as well as minimising shine. 

I book my hair and makeup artists for the entire shoot so that they are on hand for touch ups and style changes throughout the shoot.

If you’re going to do it yourself, here are some tips:

Lip colour should be a shade deeper than usual. Lip gloss adds sparkle, but avoid frosted lip colours. They photograph very light, as if you’re not wearing any lip colour.

Blush and eye makeup should be a touch heavier than normal. An extra coat of mascara will make your lashes appear longer and fuller.

10. Sleep

This is a really important step! 

Make sure you get plenty of rest the night before, so you are bright eyed and fresh looking. Also, a shoot is quite tiring. While it’s happening you’re on a high and having a good time (even if you don’t like your photo being taken, trust me), but you’ll feel it at the end of the day. 

Even better get plenty of sleep for two nights before your shoot.


Seems like a lot to think about? Get in touch and I’ll take care of all this and more for you.

You’re ready to rock the camera! Enjoy!

Contact me... 0787 400 2853

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