Planning an upcoming personal branding or headshot shoot? I’ve got you covered.
Have an upcoming photo shoot, but don’t know what you need to do as far as the planning goes? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. In this video, I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about photo shoot planning from start to finish. And it while you’re at it, if you want all of the best resources, advice and strategy to make it as a creative entrepreneur, then make sure you hit the subscribe button and the bell next to it so you’re the first to know when all of my new videos come out.
Welcome back to the channel, or if this is your first time here, hello and welcome. My name is Kat Elizabeth and I’m an actor, video creator, online entrepreneur and course creator. As you will probably find out soon, I’m obsessed with all things personal branding and photo shoots. Now, this video is going to walk you through everything you need to know about planning your own photo shoot. It’s a formula that I’ve used to plan multiple ones of my own shoots, as well as helping so many other people that I know from clients and friends and family to have their own successful photo shoots. This will work whether it’s a personal branding shoot, a headshot shoot, a family shoot. It doesn’t matter. All of these rules still apply.
So let’s get into it. The first thing we need to talk about is all of the basics. Number one, what is the purpose of your photo shoot? It could be that you are just lacking images to go on your website. It could be that you need a new headshot. Maybe you’re just trying to get some nice memories together. Maybe you want to show off your personality and have heaps of great content for social media. Whatever your reason is, really figure it out and write it down because this is kind of the core of everything else you’re going to make decisions about moving forward.
Number two is thinking about where these photos are going to be seen. This is really important. The photographer needs to know this because depending on whether your photos are going to be seen on Instagram in square format, if they’re going to be on a Facebook ad, and you need to be pointing at some text or they need to look fantastic in a banner at the top of your website or even YouTube channel, well, you’re going to need to take a different style of photos with a different crop depending on what that is.
So make sure you have a list of all of the different places that the photos are going to be seen so that the photographer knows to take the right format of photos for those purposes. You also need to know how much variety you require from this shoot. Are you just looking to get one or two amazing photos? Or do you need an entire library of stock images for yourself that you can use in social media or whatever else? That’s really important because that’s going to change the kind of booking that you make with the photographer and how many photos are included in that.
So really figure that out because it also affects the price pretty dramatically as well. And of course, what photographer are you going to book? This is not a decision that you should take lightly. Just having one good referral from someone isn’t necessarily enough, especially if you’re going to be doing a personal branding shoot, something that is very personal to you and you have a very specific sort of image in mind of how you want these photos to look. Not every photographer is going to approach the shoot in the same way.
So I want you to really do your research. Yes, ask for recommendations, but also hop online. Hop on Instagram. Look at those photography location hashtags, and start to find some photographers that seem to consistently be taking photos that look in the same vibe as what you’re trying to achieve. It’s going to make the entire shoot so much easier for you.
Step number two is that you need to create a bit of a mood board, which is going to involve a bit of research, a bit of diving down that internet rabbit hole. But it can be a really fun experience. So there are two ways to approach this. I actually usually do both. One of them is to use Pinterest. I find that the searchability of Pinterest can be a little bit trickier because you don’t always know what keywords to use.
But it’s really great to set up a private Pinterest board just for yourself that you can also share with the photographer. This is a really great place to look for outfit inspiration especially. But again, it depends on what kind of shoot you’re doing. You’re going to have to do a little bit of keyword hunting to find photos that help. Start pulling everything that inspires you, everything that you’re drawn to into that board. Don’t edit it yet so that you can then scan through it and start looking for what these photos have in common. You’re going to start to see themes. So the personality of someone in the shot or is it, do you love shots where people are really laughing and relaxed? Do you like it when they are looking away from camera? Do you prefer looking to camera? What colors are popping out? How much white space is in them?
All of those kinds of things, really helpful to know. Another place that I like to do this is on Instagram. What I do is first, look for people that are in my industry. So this is really great if you’re doing a branding shoot. I look at the kinds of photos that they’re using in their feed. If I start to see shots that really look like something that I want to create in my own way, then I will save it to a collection. That way when you go and get your photo shoot done, you can literally just open up your phone and scroll through and show the photographer all of the different kinds of photos, and they’ve got a really easy reference point as to what to create.
Now, obviously not everything has to be literal. But it’s just good to know that, okay, with this photo, I liked that it’s so bright and airy. With this photo, I like that she’s relaxed because she’s sitting in this pose. It’s not that you’re going to copy everything. But it just makes everything more visual, which is the best way to communicate with the photographer because words can be interpreted in different ways. But if you show a photo and go, “That’s what I like about this photo,” it’s really difficult to get that wrong.
The next thing you need to think about is location. It’s always a good conversation to have with your photographer because some of them prefer outdoor to studio. Some of them prefer to have their own space set up. Sometimes you’re going to hire a space, and this is where going to use that mood board to help you decide which is the best one for you. Chat to your photographer. Ask what kind of locations they normally use, if they can recommend any. Some of them probably will, others will say, “That’s completely up to you.”
A really great resource that I like to use is Airbnb as well as creative spaces. There’s a few other websites where you can actually hire locations for a certain number of hours or for a day. It means that you can literally walk into this picture perfect location that’s just ready to go. Still looks like a real home often, which is important because it looks authentic. But you don’t have to worry about your own home not having enough light, not having matching furniture, being cluttered and all of those kinds of things.
And again, for personal branding shoot where you know these photos are going to help grow your business, they’re going to be visible everywhere, I really believe it’s worth the investment. You want to get really specific with your location too because yes, okay, you’re hiring a place. Let’s say you’ve hired an apartment, but where in the apartment do you want to feature these shots?
For instance, food bloggers are probably going to take more shots in the kitchen. Maybe in the dining room, maybe in the living room. Whereas if you talk about health and wellness about sleep, then maybe you want some bedroom shots, some morning routine shots. If it’s beauty and things you talking about, then maybe it’s in the bathroom. Or if it’s really you’re just an entrepreneur that works from home, then you might set up in a home office, or have your laptop on your lap in the couch. There’s so many options, but think ahead of time about what the priorities are because the two can go very quickly once you’re there. So it’s important to be able to work through in order of priority once you’re in that space.
Question of the day, when was the last time that you booked a professional photo shoot, if ever? Tell me about it in the comments below. I’d love to know all the details.
You’re next step is going to be planning your wardrobe, which takes a little bit more work than you think. While for a standard, close up headshots shoot, you can get away with just choosing a nice top, or a top and a blazer. But if you really wanting to show off your personality, and this is about your brand and showing yourself in a more relaxed environment, then you’re going to want to think about top to toe outfits. You’re going to want a bunch of different outfit looks too. Because if you are trying to create a personal stock image library for yourself, well then just having one outfit for all of the photos is going to look ridiculous. You’re going to need to change it up. But keep in mind that you can have one top with a few different jackets and suddenly you’ve got multiple looks.
Clothing is so important because it really sends so many messages to your clients, your audience, your potential employers, whoever is going to be seeing these photos. So really think carefully about things like colors and what they mean and whether they actually represent your personality and your brand. Think about how much skin you’re showing you. Think about things like ironing your clothes properly so they’re not wrinkled. All of this kind of stuff really does matter. Because once that photo was taken, that moment is set in stone. So it makes sure you are happy with every single little detail.
Another thing you need to think about is to prop or not to prop. In personal branding shoots, props can be so helpful in making you look and feel more relaxed and more like you’re in a normal environment. Whereas if you have nothing in your hands, you’re kind of just sitting or standing, you can feel a little bit posey and awkward.
So obviously, if this is just a headshot shoot, you don’t have to worry about this. Don’t add any props because it’ll just be kind of weird. If it’s a family shoot and you want to be very relaxed and look like you’re all engaging with each other, you could definitely bring some. You might want to bring a ball along or have some toys for the kids and grab some shots of people in action. For a personal brand shoot, you want to think about what you actually use day to day in your business. Is it just a laptop? Even if you’re a photographer yourself, you want to be shown with the camera. If you’re a personal stylist, then maybe you want some clothes. You could also consider bringing along a friend or family member to act as a client or a customer if you want to get a few shots of you actually interacting with them.
I know people aren’t technically props, but you get the idea. Think about the different locations and how they pair with the outfits and then pair with the props. You’re going to want to come up with combinations before you actually go to this shoot. This is going to take a little bit of extra time and effort, but it totally pays off when you end up with all of these cool and varied shots.
Speaking of shots, you are going to have to create a shot list, not just for yourself but for the photographer and for the benefits of time. It’s very easy to just start having fun and experimenting and doing all this random stuff. Then you get to the end of the shoot and realize you missed out on half of the shots that you’d actually wanted to get. So the shot list is going to include things like what is the crop like? Do I need a close up or do I need something, a full body shot? How much white space do I need? What outfit will I be wearing with which accessories? Maybe you’re changing your makeup as well. And with what proper and in what location?
I know it’s a lot of combinations. You don’t have to be too specific, like sitting on the couch in this pose doing this thing, thinking this thought. But you do want to make sure that the outfits pair nicely with the locations and that the props make sense in the space that you’re in. Finally, it’s all about communication, because what point is all of this hard work and effort if you don’t actually get the message across to the photographer, so you don’t get anything you need. I think there’s certain points during the process that you need to communicate with your photographer.
Obviously, the first one is when you’re interviewing them and figuring out if they’re the right photographer for you, and what’s included in their different packages, and how collaborative they are and things like that. Then once you’ve put together your mood board and you have a bit of a clearer idea of what you need, it’s not a idea to send that to them and also have the location discussion and make sure you’re on the same page about those things. Then on the day of the shoot, that’s your opportunity to get really specific and show them your mood board. Show them your phone with all of the shots. Really get specific on like, “This is the kind of energy I want to have in the shots. Make sure you get a selection to be looking at you versus looking away. I want some that are a bit more serious, some that or laughing.”
Show them the short list obviously and let them know that your order of priority as far as outfits go and locations go. You could find that you run out of time. But if you’ve worked it to make sure that all of the crucial stuff comes first and then the rest is an optional extra, you’ll be relaxed because everything else you get will be like the cherry on top. But you really need to make sure that all of those purpose-driven photos that you know you’ve got your profile photo. You’ve got your header photo. You’ve got your Facebook ads photo or whatever it is, have been checked off. Then you’ll just kick back and let the rest of the session run and have a bit more fun. Because trust me, don’t want to just stick to the shotlist because there is some magic moments that happen when you’re just mucking around, laughing than just trying to pose for the perfect photo a few times and then ending up looking really stiff and stressed in the photo.
All right. That was so much that we tried to get through. But the good news is that I have actually created a planning checklist for you for your next photo shoot. If you want to download that for free, the link to that is in the description box below. Go start planning and probably rewatch this a few times because I know there’s a lot of work to do. But I’m really excited for you to start having some amazing photo shoots moving forward.
If you like this video, please give it a thumbs up. Subscribe so you don’t miss out on future ones. And please share this with any friends or colleagues who are planning their own photo shoot and they will definitely thank you for it. If you found this helpful, in the comments below, just say love it, or learned something new so that I know I’m doing a good job. Thanks as always for watching. Can’t wait to see you on the next one. Bye for now.
Kat is an actor and personal branding coach as well as the host of The Personal Branding Project Podcast and her self-titled YouTube channel. She started her career off by playing Marilyn at Warner Bros Movie World, went on to perform in the original Australian casts of Jersey Boys & Hairspray and eventually found herself writing/producing her own work before becoming a self-employed copywriter and marketing strategist. She now offers 1:1 Coaching and Online Courses for entrepreneurs, freelancers + multi-passionate creatives.