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  • Writer's pictureMary Callahan

How to Plan a Brand Photoshoot

Whether you’re your own one-person business working with individual clients or a mid-size company selling high-end products, at some point (or many) you’re going to have to set up a photoshoot to promote your brand online, on social media, and in other advertising or commerce spaces. But if you’re a new brand, where do you even begin? Here are our 10 steps to planning a brand photoshoot:

  1. Do ALL your brand prep work

Before you even start thinking about a photoshoot, you must make sure you’ve laid all the groundwork for your brand—certainly your mission, vision, offerings, and audience insights, but also your brand aesthetics (the look and feel of who you are. These include colors, words, images, and more). You don’t want to spend a lot of time and money on a photoshoot only to change your brand’s aesthetic direction soon after. The stronger your foundation, the better you’ll be able to build.

  1. Define your purpose

Why are you having a photoshoot? Where will these photos be seen (on social media, your website, print advertising, in-office decor, or email newsletters)? Who will be part of your creative team? What sort of shots do you need and why?

  1. Create a mood board

It's time to let your imagination run wild. Make a Pinterest board or similar blank canvas filled with all the inspiration you can find. Include everything that aligns with your brand aesthetic—colors, typography, textures, photography, artwork, and vibes. From there, curate your mood board down to a more manageable curation. You should share your mood board with your creative team. It’s important everyone is on the same wavelength going into the shoot. Do all of the researching, persuading, and conversing ahead of time so that you can maximize your hours on set.

  1. Build your team

No matter the size of your shoot, you’re going to need more hands on deck. Depending on your budget and project, that might mean hiring a photographer, hair and makeup artist, talent, and possibly even a separate director. Make sure you research your team beforehand (often you can find creative agencies with teams already built and familiar working together). Do you like their prior work? Does it align with what you’re looking to convey in this shoot?

  1. Book a space

Once you’ve got your team and their availability, you’re going to need to locate a place to shoot. Again, depending on your project, this could be in your current office, outdoors, or in a rented studio space like our new Studio a la Carte. It’s important to also account for lighting, backdrops, and any other equipment you might need. Your photographer or director can give you an idea of everything you’ll need, and a rental studio space will be able to tell you what’s available (otherwise you or someone on your team will need to provide these accessories).

  1. Create a shot list

Even if you block out a whole day for your shoot, you’ll be surprised at how quickly the hours fly by. Maximize your time by pre-planning every shot you’re hoping to get (i.e. each product, how many shots, and from what angles). This will help you stick to a schedule. If you have free time to play around with extra ideas at the end of the shoot, amazing! But your main priority is to get everything you need in the timeframe you have.

  1. Gather all props and materials

You don’t pack your suitcase the morning of your vacation. Likewise, you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to organize everything you need for your shoot. Backup wardrobe, props, makeup (especially powder), and things like a steamer, clothes rack with hangers, and water/snacks are just a few of the things you want to make sure you have on your “pack” list. It’s always a good idea to have an extra staff person at the shoot to run back to the office or to the local store should you forget or need anything.

  1. Show time!

You’ve done all the prep work. Now it’s time to shoot! Show up early, cultivate a shared sense of excitement and calm, and stay on schedule as best you can. Remember that content from this shoot will fuel your upcoming marketing campaign as well as set the stage for future campaigns to come. And most importantly, be proud of your work. Setting up a photoshoot is one of the first steps to getting your brand seen and out there.

  1. Editing

Just because the shoot is over doesn’t mean the work is. Carve out a good chunk of time to pan through the proofs from your photographer. Get a second opinion to narrow down your favorite shots. Submit your list of approved photos back to the photographer (or separate photo editor) for touch-ups (this may be an added fee depending on the number of images on your list).

  1. Regroup and review

Circle up with your creative team for a quick meeting to go over the photoshoot. Was time used efficiently? Were people happy with the final product? What could we do in the future to make a shoot even better? You’re likely to have another photoshoot at some point down the line. Debriefing and learning from the experience will make each subsequent photoshoot better than the last.

If you need help planning a shoot or are looking to rent a studio space for your next brand photoshoot, get in touch with us!

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