BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY: How to Plan a Photoshoot for Your Brand & Home Office
BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY: How to Plan a Photoshoot for Your Brand & Home Office

Maybe you’re a little bit like me—and as
much as I loved working with stock imagery to market my creative small business, there
came a point in time where I was ready for my own library of personalized brand images
that I could use to market my brand. This is how I planned my brand photo shoot
from start to finish, and it’s going to help you tell your brand story and give your clients
and your customers a feel for you and your brand’s personality. In this video, I’m going to share with you
the 5 factors to a killer brand photo shoot and also tell you about the storytelling strategy
that I used in my own brand photo shoot. Let’s do this! Welcome to Episode 94, so close to 100! I’m a copywriter and a brand strategist
for creative entrepreneurs. And listen, if you haven’t yet looked down
below and hit that subscribe button, that helps me out SO much as I worked to create
this channel and put more and more of this free education out there for people like you—and
it also customizes YouTube, so when you hop onto the platform, the algorithm knows what
kind of stuff you like … and that’s always helpful. The first and most important thing to having
an efficient and worth-it photo shoot is to storyboard out all of your imagery needs. What are your products and services and what
are the editorial stories that you’re working to get out? If you’ve followed my business or in any of
my programs, I’ve totally mentioned my obsession with The Devil Wears Prada. Here’s your Miranda Priestly moment. You get to be a little bit of the editor-in-chief. When you’re the editorial or creative director
of your brand, I want you to think about the things that you have to get across visually. So, for me, that was things like my 3 courses,
my programs that I have, but also my one-on-one services as a copywriter. And to be honest, I’ve had a really difficult
time visually illustrating that in the past. My suggestion here is that you create a list
of the five editorial stories that you want to tell in your brand photo shoot. I’ll talk about it more in this video, but
I worked with Abby Springmann of Abby Grace Photography, incredible, incredible photographer. And what we did is create 5 major key stories
that we were going to work on to tell during the full day that I had as a brand photo shoot
client of hers. Those stories were: Ashlyn, the copywriter,
Ashlyn, the teacher. So that correlates with this YouTube channel,
but also my products and my courses. Ashlyn, the wife, Ashlyn, the mom, and then
as Abby said it, Ashlyn, the “southern dame.” 😉 This accent is going nowhere fast, so kind
of communicating where I live, where I’m from, what my background’s like as well in the images. Storyboarding out those five editorial concepts
that you want to get visually demonstrated on the day that you have booked for your brand
photo shoot is a great use of time. Also, Abby asked me to brainstorm through
what she calls brand boosters. That’s similar to something that I teach and
call brand mascots, which you can check out in this video right here where I dive more
into planning out your brand strategy. For me, this meant making sure that I had
spent a little bit of time brainstorming and thinking out all the different ways that I
use to describe and tell story in my brand. So for me, that’s typically things like ballet,
art, France, champagne, Veuve Clicquot, Auburn, my dogs, and my family. A simple way to figure out your brand boosters
or brand mascots is to do a quick content audit and see the kind of things that you
talk about in your content regularly. How do you explain concepts or how do you
tell stories? This first step in the process needs to start
way before the photo shoot day itself. And If you’re like me, you’re rarely at your
desk when that idea strikes. What I found really helpful, and I’m still
doing it, is making sure that I have a little note started in my phone, and when I have
an idea of something that I need to illustrate with a photo or a piece of imagery and I don’t
have anything for that, I just make sure that I jot it down in my phone. Maybe you’re like me, these ideas always seem
to come in places like on a walk are in a shower so that’s been really helpful. I’ll give you an example. Even just the other day, I realized that I
would love a picture of my hands, like an overhead shot of my hands on a keyboard. I have one from a few years ago, but it’s
not recent. So that’s the kind of thing that I want to
continue to put on this list. So I have a running shot list ready to storyboard
and tell later in a brand shoot. So from there, hiring a photographer is so
important. Okay, I mentioned Abby earlier, but before
I could afford to work with a photographer, something that I found really helpful to do
was to go to local meetups here in Atlanta, meet with photographers, and hear about the
ones who are interested in moving from family portraiture and wedding portraiture into brand
photography. I would offer to be the guinea pig or even
trade with them as they worked through their workflow and kind of figured out and got their
sea legs ready to move into this as a service in their own businesses. They got photos for their portfolio. I got images that I could work with that were
personalized for my brand. But now, working with a true brand photographer
for the first time was an incredible investment and educational experience for me. There’s truly value in working with the experts. Comment below “heck yes” if you agree with
that1 Let me explain a couple of ways that I saw this play out. So I was able to explain to Abby those brand
stories and the things that I really needed to come across. But during the day of our shoot, I was able
to count on her expertly trained eye to capture the little magic moments that I never in a
million years would have thought of. I can tell you three ways she did this. The first, I’ve always had a really hard time
visually communicating efficiency and productivity, which I have an entire program about, and
it was her idea to bring in a kitchen timer and use that to illustrate it. She came up with the idea of wrapping boxes
with bows that I could use to demonstrate free gift or a bonus later on when I’m doing
launches. And she also came up with the brilliant trashcan
shot idea right here that you can see and that is helpful as a turnaround. I tried to illustrate to people how I can
help them come in and write better copy for their businesses so they’re not doing this
all the time. That’s the value in working with an expert. Now, when I was researching this video, I
saw a lot of great tools and resources out there that were recommending making a Pinterest
mood board before working with a photographer on a brand photo shoot. I actually did not do this at all. Most of the visual style and photos I had
for my business, I had really dialed in. Now, some of you have heard me tell this story
before, but essentially, here’s what happened. I knew the artistic director and team that
I wanted to work with to create my first library of styled images. I saved and saved and saved my pennies. I talked to her on a sales call. She sent over the proposal, and my jaw dropped
when I saw the number, but she was totally worth it. So I said, “Hold that thought, I’ll be back
one day.” I went and worked really hard to make the
money and then came back to her and said, “I’m finally ready to work with you. This is my budget. What can we do?” So again, when I worked with her because,
back to working with an expert, I really trusted her to be able to take what was in my head
and put it on paper. That’s her job as a creative and artistic
director or somebody who works with photographers all the time. I could tell her things that I was trying
to communicate like copywriting. She was able to help me build a brand library
with images. The problem was, I wasn’t at the shoot so
I wasn’t in any of the photos and that’s what I was really looking to solve when I did this
photo shoot with Abby. All that to say, I didn’t really make the
Pinterest board thing because I had stuff dialed in from working with Megan in the past. I didn’t even create a Pinterest board when
I worked with her then. I found so much more value in working with
artists when I’m able to say, “Here’s kind of my vision and things that I do like, but
you do your thing, go forth, do your gift, and I’ll tell you when it’s not right.” Next step, gather a team to fill in the gaps. So, when you plan your brand photo shoot,
again, step into that role as creative director for your brand. Put on your best Miranda Priestly attire,
and figure out who else you need on your team to really help you execute that look you’re
going for. A couple of examples of this for you. First, flowers. So, typically I would just go to Trader Joe’s,
grab a bunch of flowers, and style them on my own. But the more I invested in this shoot as far
as getting Abby in town, we just finished my office. Everything I was putting into it, I thought,
“You know what? I don’t want to look back on this and hate
the Trader Joe’s flowers and arrangements that I made myself.” So, I reached out to a floral designer, told
her my max budget and said, “Is there anything you can do with this?” And she was able to deliver. I am so happy now that I’m able to look back
on these photos and say that was worth the investment. Another example, I’m pretty comfortable with
doing makeup and hair, probably from all of the days doing my stage makeup for ballet. I painted my nails myself but clothes are
another story. But again, you don’t want to look back on
your brand photo shoot and think, “What was I thinking? Why did I wear that? Why didn’t anybody tell me that I didn’t look
good?” So, my best advice here is see if you can
recruit a really stylish friend. I looked out and the best friend I grew up
with named Camilla, worked in retail and also worked as a stylist before doing what she
does now, and so she helped me. We put together five different outfits, which
I would totally recommend as well. It ranged from like sweat pants and T-shirt
kind of thing all the way to the little black dress and everything in between. She dials it in down to the number of bracelets
on my wrist and exactly what shoes I was wearing. So, in my closet on shoot day, I had all my
outfits laid out with the little picture that she helped me assemble on top of each outfit
in the jewelry right beside it too. Everything was steamed the day before so this
was all ready to go. Now, I know that this may sound silly, but
when you are investing a lot of time and money and energy into your brand photo shoot, I
promise you because I’ve done it the other way, the last thing you want is to be running
in and trying to ask your photographer, “These earrings or these earrings? Does this top look okay or should I put on
this top?” You want all that figured out before. Trust me, I’ve done it the other way. I’ll tell you one mistake I made here with
a team. I clearly do video all the time and could
use a whole lot of B-roll footage, and I thought, “You know what? I’m not going to pay and spend the money on
having a videographer come in this day and shoot some B-roll footage.” This opportunity, I should’ve done that. It would’ve helped out a lot. Number four, gather your props. This one is fun, so set a budget. About the same time you’re working on your
storyboard and figuring out your outfits that you’re going to wear for your brand photo
shoot, you definitely want to think about props because, heyo, shipping, and not everything
is two-day Amazon delivery. Props are the little things that make a big
difference. It’s kind of like when you go to a dinner
party and you go into the bathroom and there’s maybe a little thing of flowers and a candle
lit. It’s the little things, right? Or if you stay at a nice hotel and there’s
a turndown service and a chocolate on your pillow. Silly example, but props can be those tiny
visual cues that tell your dream ideal clients and customers, kind of like a dog whistle,
“Hey, I’m for you.” So, one thing you want to do is think through
all of the physical tools that you use day to day in your business. Order them and gather them in advance and
then, I found it most helpful to, on the day of the shoot, just have one corner tucked
away where I had everything all spread out on the floor. It looked like a big I Spy, from those books
from the ’90s, just all laid out for Abby to look and choose from. Again, she was the magician behind everything
and I wanted everything spread out so she could look at it. Pro tip here. Think about written things, maybe your planner
that’s marked up a little bit or client worksheets. If you have a program or digital products,
can you print out and kind of scratch up some of the worksheets? This is something I learned from working with
a brand photographer is how little you want things to look staged. Even in taking some of the videos where I
was recording, we made sure to plug in the mic. Because I didn’t want it to look like this
mike was wireless and sitting there because it’s definitely not. And anybody who knows about that mike would
recognize that’s not a wireless microphone. Staged things usually looked staged, so see
how you can make it look authentic. Last thing I’ll say about props, I have a
client named Julie Solomon. She works predominantly with influencers and
I heard her say one time that she always tries to dress or buy clothes that are on-brand
for her. I liked that. I don’t think I really do it but I’d probably
do it in a sense of the things that go in my house, so when I’m buying furnishings or
coffee table books or whatever, I kind of have one aesthetic that I stick with, and
that does come in handy when it’s time to take photos for my business, because everything
already kind of matches. All right, the day before the shoot, dial
in that shot list to exactly the things that you need and how you’re going to use these
images. You’re going to want a range of images with
varying white space. Now, orientation really matters here. I feel like all the tips I’ve given so far,
you really want to let that photographer be the artist and be the magician that they are
and work through their process. But I have found at least since my days of
working in magazines like Southern Living that you really do kind of have to scare the
photographer and remind them of this image. How do you want to use it? Where do you need white space? So be attuned to that as you’re working through
the day. But like I said, it’s probably most helpful
the day of, to go through that shot list, look at all the different storyboards, and
go ahead and think about each image that you want and the ones that you’re going to need
some white space over to the side, so you can pop some copy or text up over top of it. Do you have any images that you know you need
vertical because they’re going to take up more room on Instagram, but then others where
you need more wide-angle and you need them to be ready for a hero image on a website? That’s the kind of stuff that you as the creative
director of your shoot need to be aware of. Here’s also where location really matters,
and I’ve always just shot my brand photos at my house. I found that when you’re working with a photographer
that knows what they’re doing, they’re usually uncannily good about figuring out a place
that has great natural light where some stuff will be kind of like, I don’t know the right
word, but like blurred out a little bit or they can recognize a field that they saw driving
in and know that they want to shoot you there. They’re just good at their job, so I think
that location shouldn’t stress you out quite as much. Also, my office is about 20 x 20, and I have
a library now of almost 400 photos all in this space. Finish your day, kick your feet up. It can be very draining to have a full-day
brand photo shoot, but it’s so worth it. One last tip, have fun with it. I was so freaking nervous before the shoot
that I even actually took a shot of tequila with Abby because I hate having my photo taken. I’m like sweating even thinking about it. I just freak out and it makes me so nervous. So, that goes back to choosing somebody to
work with that you really like and knows what they’re doing, because I found that that can
completely put you at ease. But have fun. Even by the end of the day, we have a Disney
playlist blaring from Spotify and I was really enjoying it. Again, I want you to walk away from this with
a library of images that you can pull and call from for years to come, truly years. That client I had that I told you about earlier,
named Sandra, is the one that really trained me to recognize how I can use images from
a good, classic, on-brand photo shoot. I shouldn’t just be able to use them for six
months but I should be able to use them for two, three, four years. That’s what I want for you too. If you found this video helpful, then hit
that “like” button below. Don’t forget also to hit “subscribe” and
you’ll know when the next training comes out next Tuesday!

8 thoughts on “BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY: How to Plan a Photoshoot for Your Brand & Home Office”

  1. Ashlyn Writes says:

    WHOOP! Let's talk brand photos–do you have them for your business? Or is it on your Christmas wishlist? 🙂 Let me know below!

  2. HopeJstone says:

    PROP STYLIST | Love this topic because I'm a brand photo stylist! I don't take the photos, I focus on storytelling through props. Many photographers are creative and can give you what Ashlyn recommends but if you need someone who can dive into your brand and formulate mood-boards based on where you want to go, hire a photo stylist. Similar to a wardrobe stylist, prop stylists see the entire composition of images being created. I love spending the day on a shoot making sure all the images tie together and speak to your story. Would love to work with you someday Ashlyn! But I highly recommend your viewers know about prop stylists in addition to hiring a photographer.

  3. D. Michele Perry says:

    Heck yes x 100. I did one mini brand shoot three years ago and have talked with Abby because I’ve loved her style ever since I found her a few years ago.

    And now I’m working my tail off to one make the budget and 2 work my tail off ie get in shape so I actually like what I look like in the photos. Again you rock awesome content and I’m totally going to be doing this because I think a running Trello board is about to happen 😆 I do brand photography for a few local clients each year and do these things with them to help them prepare… I just never thought of doing it for myself. 🤣 woop fun project I can do from medical waiting rooms while supporting and caring for my folks. Thank you again friend. Love Tuesday mornings because your videos come out on them.

    Bonus… running shot lists are awesome for when you find a photographer friend with right style you swap with they can grab two or three or four even on the fly.

  4. Amanda Barrington says:

    I'm putting together some concepts to shoot some DIY brand photos at home on a budget (it's just the stage of business I'm in… not the most ideal situation, but I'm not a total photography amateur and it's a fun challenge). My home doesn't have the aesthetic that matches my brand vision, so I'm trying to curate a few pieces (I found the perfect chair on sale, etc.) and will set up just a small section of my home for a few good photos. I'm finding outfits to be the most difficult part!

  5. Madalyn Yates says:

    I just had my brand photo shoot! Absolutely amazing way to wrap up the re-branding process! Definitely HECK YES! to working with a professional!

  6. Julia Mary says:

    Love it! As a brand photographer, it's so helpful to hear what worked or didn't work well from the clients perspective. Helps me know how to keep honing my workflow in order to help creatives tell their story and get the content they need 🙂 (p.s. thanks for all your copywriting tips! they were SO helpful as I updated my website

  7. Hannah Murphy says:

    This is so helpful! I have one next week so this video was perfect timing!

  8. Celia Ragonese says:

    This is so helpful, Ashlyn! I love hearing about this from your perspective and finding ways to improve my services even after doing branding photography for 5 years, there are still things to learn! I've already made adjustments to my workflow so I can better help people — thank you so much. I love the story boards but also love a good mood board so I understand what kind of "vibe" someone is going for if they are just starting out with a blank slate. Your images turned out beautifully and Abby is so talented! I definitely need branding photos for myself for 2020 — #goals.

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