A few weeks ago I had my very own personal branding photoshoot and I did a lot of prep work for it beforehand…
A lot of the time when working with clients, especially personal brands, I always recommend getting some professional headshots, and as I’ve kept recommending this to clients over and over again, I realised that I needed to get my own sorted. There are a number of reasons why I recommend getting professional headshots taken.
Firstly, they’re genuine and authentic. Times have moved on a lot now and more and more brands are standing out by using their own professional photographs. I can spot a stock image from a mile away and they all have the same look and feel about them too… whereas with professional headshots, they’re authentically showing you and what your business is all about, but they’re also genuine and true to you. Secondly, they’re ‘on brand’, because you get to control the whole look and feel of them. You can’t do that with stock photos. And lastly, they’ll be in alignment with your brand values, positioning and dream customers, which is extremely important.
It took about 4 weeks for me to prepare for my own personal branding photoshoot and I wanted to share with you how I prepped for it all:
Get clear on how you want your headshots to look and feel.
I would recommend getting clear on your brand values, visual branding, dream customers and positioning first before you do anything else.
Questions you could ask yourself:
• How do you want your brand to look and feel? Professional and sincere (for example), or friendly and relaxed. Knowing this can make a huge difference to the look and feel of your headshots.
• What are your brand values and how can you reflect those through your headshots?
• Where do you want to position your brand?
• Who are your dream customers and what is going to appeal to them? What would they want to see? How do you want them to feel when they see a photo of you?
These are all really important questions to ask yourself first and foremost. Once you get a clear idea around the above, then I would recommend moving onto the next stage.
Create a secret Pinterest Board
Start pinning headshots and photos that are in alignment with your answers to the questions above. Look at poses, props, lighting, outfits and style. I would pin at least 40 different images and then leave it for a week and don’t look at it again. After a week, revisit your Pinterest board and delete any pins that don’t sit right with you. Once you’ve done this, I’d highly recommend sharing it with your photographer because it means they can get a clear idea as to what you’re after. I did this with Sue, from Sue Todd Photography before our photoshoot and it helped both of us immensely.
Think about props…
Props can contribute to your photos massively so you want to make sure they’re also in alignment with your brand and overall look and feel. Have a think about props which are relatable to what you do – so for example, for me I wanted to have my MacBook in the photos as well as a mug, notebook, pen, sketchpad and pencil etc. But I also wanted to ‘dress’ the venue so it had that desired look and feel I was after so I also used fresh flowers, artificial plants, candles, books, cushions and more.
Top tip: Make sure your props are in your brand colours. Colours can create an association with your brand, so the more your brand colours are featured within your photos, the better. If you have some props already at home which you can use – great. But if you are rebranding, then I would suggest doing some online research into where you could get props from, how much they are going to be and could you save time by ordering them online too?
Think about the types of shots you’d like to have and what you want to use them for
This is really easy to break down and think about…
Firstly, think about the types of photos you’d like to have. Are you wanting some with lots of wall or clear space behind you so you could add text to them? Are you wanting portrait headshots as well as landscape shots to use on your website? Are you wanting close up shots or shots from a distance further away? And are you after indoor shots, outdoor shots or a mixture of both?
There is a lot to think about here, but also thinking about the purpose of what you’re going to use them for will help: Social media general posts, blog graphics, bio headshots, website images, workbooks and lead magnets, social media advertising etc. Once you’re clear on all of this, again, make sure you share this with your photographer so they have a clear idea as to what you’re after.
Find a suitable venue
Again, the venue or location where you’d like the photoshoot to take place also needs to be inline with your values, positioning and dream customers. You can do some initial online research into venues/locations, but also visiting them in person is recommended. For mine, I considered a venue in the middle of Newcastle and I was looking at some of their photos online, but more recent ones showed they’d changed their outdoor area and it didn’t look as nice as it had originally. Again, you’ve got to think about the look and feel too. I knew I wanted my photos to be light, airy with pops of my brand colours in there. I got thinking about my friend who had recently redecorated their whole house and actually, the more I thought about it, the more perfect it was as a venue.
Venues and locations to consider – restaurants, coffee shops, modern offices, castles, tea rooms, hotels, stately homes, show homes, your own home etc. It might also be worth speaking to your photographer to see if they have any ideas.
Speak to a personal stylist
Why? Because they are an expert in what they do! Just like you are in what you do. Speaking to a personal stylist is going to be really beneficial to you and how YOU look and feel in your headshots. Your personal stylist can take into account your brand colours, so they’re represented through what you’re wearing along with accessories and they will know exactly how to dress you for your body type too. A lot of women don’t know what their body type is whereas a personal stylist can look at you and within seconds know what’s going to be the most flattering to suit your shape and size. With a lot of help from Nichola English, The Wardrobe Provocateur, we were able to narrow down outfit choices to three in total, looking at the whole outfits along with shoes and accessories including jewellery, hair and make up too.
Before the photoshoot I had shared my secret Pinterest board with Nichola too so she could see visually what I was after and then she asked me to put some outfit choices together with my current clothes. We had a Skype call and went through each outfit, decided on three outfit changes altogether and created a shopping list of 3 additional items I needed to purchase a few days before the photoshoot. Before the photoshoot, I changed into one of the outfits so I was ready to go straight away.
It was great having Nichola at the actual photoshoot as well because she not only styled me with the outfit changes, but she also styled the venue as well.
Hair and Make Up
The last time I got head shots done, I did my own and hair and make up and the photos have never seen the light of day because to me, they just looked awful. If you’re after a confidence boost, I would recommend getting your make up and hair done by a professional, which is where Louise Brownlees came in. I booked Louise to come to my house the morning of the photoshoot to do my hair and make up. A few days before she came, she asked me to share photos with her of hair and make up I liked the look of. Now, on a day to day basis, I hardly wear any make up, so I was after a nice natural look, but one which would still show up in the photos too. Your make up has to be more heavy and visible than normal for photoshoots because of the lighting and flashes etc. and with my dream customers in mind, I knew I needed to get mine done professionally. Louise did an absolutely amazing job!
Don’t forget the smaller details…
For the photoshoot I got a gel manicure a few days beforehand because I knew even the smallest of details like that would add value to the bigger picture in mind. This was the same for my hair and make up too. Everything needed to be on point and on brand too, so even if it’s something you may not have considered, the smallest of details do count when it comes to a photoshoot.
Just like ironing the clothes the night before the photoshoot and hanging them up ready. It would have looked unprofessional to have creased clothes on for the photoshoot and I wanted to ensure everything was of a certain standard. And, even though I hate ironing, I knew it would make a big difference to the overall look and feel of the photos. So make sure you don’t forget the smaller details too.
I would love to know in the comments below, have you had or are you considering professional photos for your personal brand and is there a particular reason why?