As brand strategists, we get that the outside of your brand is just as important as the inside. A brand without good visuals is sort of like looking in the mirror and not having a reflection. You're real; you're full of emotion and passion and ideas, but no one else can see it but you.
Visual content is the link between what the public sees and what you see in yourself.
Try to think of your logo, website, and imagery like the worker bees that help form the public's view of your purpose and mission. When you're off catching some z's (or hustling at 3am), you should be able to rely on brand photos across all platforms to communicate your WHY and appeal to your target. It's like the passive income that keeps on giving.
Now that you get the gist of how crucial brand photos are, let's go through a step-by-step process on how to ensure that your next brand photo session is the most successful ever. And guess what? Wendy Norman with Apt. B Photography (who took all of our amazing photos) is here to give her take from behind the camera. Get excited.
Step 1: Meet your Match
Flourish Finding a photographer who is just as excited about your growing business and visual identity is crucial. When we first met Wendy, we could immediately tell that her values and aesthetic were in line with our brand; it wouldn't be a push to get the end product we had in mind.
Apt. B Photography It’s always helpful to meet your photographer in person or over FaceTime before the shoot! Clicking with your photographer’s personality and creative style is essential to the success of a brand shoot. Especially if you are going to be in front of the camera! If you establish a connection with your photographer beforehand, creativity will flow easily and naturally on the day of the shoot.
Step 2: Conceptualize
Flourish As a brand studio, we already had a fully stocked Pinterest board of inspiration images from the early development of FLOCO. Sharing this with Wendy really helped give her a feel for our minimal aesthetic and dreamy blush tones prevalent throughout our platforms. Be sure to include images of color, light, and actual people for well-rounded direction. Wendy then came back to us with her interpretation of the shoot and began story boarding poses and composition based on commonalities she found on our inspiration board."It's so rare to find a photographer who shoots and gives art direction. If you happen to find one, keep them forever." - Erica
Apt. B Photography Pinterest boards for the win! To ensure that your visual identity is clear, cull your board down to just the images that best define your brand aesthetic; the colors, shapes, and overall “feel” of the board should tell a cohesive story. Pin away at the beginning, but curate the board before sending it to your photographer.
I also love when clients can provide me with three words that define their brand. When I rebranded my photography business, I gave my designer the words “lovely, natural, and cozy.” Maybe yours are “sophisticated, luxe, and glam,” or maybe it’s “fun, fabulous, and bright.” Peek at your Pinterest board and then pick three words that sum up your aesthetic perfectly.
Tip: It's a good idea to also share images that you don't think reflect your brand. This gives the photographer a mental boundary to work within.
Step 3: Shoot Prep
Flourish After the conceptual phase, it was time to solidify tangible locations and props that would help bring our ideas to life. Being a local photographer, Wendy was familiar with the nearby landscape and was able to suggest several locations that fit within the concept. Caty and I rummaged our house for items that spoke to us and the FLOCO brand: a golden apple, Turkey feather, and a small journal were among some of them. While none of these items scream "branding", an apple photo could be the perfect backdrop for a "Finding Your Dream Client" blog post. The journal could be used alongside a "Creating A Solid Business Plan" ebook. You get the picture.
Apt. B Photography Shot lists are also a key component to helping your photographer prep for the shoot. Write down all the images that are must-haves at the shoot. A good photographer will bring their own list of additional ideas and inspiration to a shoot (sometimes the best shots are the unplanned ones), but if you need a horizontal header image for your website, or you need a photo of you against a specific background, we need to know so we can plan for the shoot properly.
Tip: Clarify ahead of time how extensive of a shoot you're planning. Are you sticking to one outfit? Should you bring multiple pairs of shoes? It's always good to come on site with more than needed.
Step 4: go time
Flourish Because we had such a smooth exchange of ideas leading up to the shoot, we met on site like old friends. Always arrive fifteen minutes early so that the shoot starts on schedule. Some of our best shots were those Wendy snapped while we were in between "poses". Stay loose and tell corny jokes for a genuine smile (a little wine beforehand won't hurt either). As our shoot was smack dab in the middle of the #Whole30 challenge, we opted for the corny jokes.
Apt. B Photography Come to the shoot ready to create magic with your photographer. While a shot list provides the backbone for the shoot, it’s the spontaneous creative moments throughout the shoot that will breath life into your brand. Come ready to laugh, be flexible, collaborate, try things that may or may not work, and HAVE FUN.
Successful Brand Shoot Checklist
1. Solid communication between both parties.
2. Clear visuals demonstrating art direction.
3. Descriptive brand words.
4. The perfect location(s), outfits, and props.
5. Clear expectations of end result.