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The thought of having headshots or a professional branding photoshoot for your website and social media can send some people into a mild panic. Actually, scrap mild. Not being comfortable in front of the camera is often the main reason business owners hide behind a logo and stock images.

But it doesn’t have to be as nerve-wracking as you think. Having professional brand images can make the perfect first impression, especially since the world has become so visually-inspired – don’t underestimate the ability a pixelated, poor-quality website image has to turn a potential new client off.

In this post I wanted to share not only how to nail down the image you want to convey as the face of your brand, but how to source the right photographer and prep for your shoot beforehand so that it’s totally on brand, totally you and most of all, you are happy with the results!

What image do you want to convey?

The first step, and the most important factor to consider is, what do you want to convey as the face of your business? What is your brand voice? Do you have an informal, laid-back approach to communicating with your clients or customers? If so, would a candid style shoot in a coffee shop be more suitable than a more formal behind-your-desk shot? Or is your business more educational, where showing you in your natural teaching environment might be better?

The image needs to reflect your personality and brand message, whether that’s bold, fierce, warm, inspiring etc. What three words would you use to describe your brand? Every time you make a decision about your forthcoming shoot, ask yourself if it fits with your chosen words. If natural, bohemian and relaxed describes your brand, will a bold graphic print backdrop and sharp blazer convey this? Probably not.

Creating a Pinterest board with images you feel convey the overall look you want to achieve is a great place to start. This can be anything from poses to colours to outfits, hairstyles and makeup, to the style of photography you like. This step can really help when searching for a photographer to work with.

But how do you find the right photographer?

Working with a photographer you trust and feel comfortable with in front of can make the world of difference to your final images. A good photographer will have a way of making you feel at ease, but it can take some time to find the right fit and relax, especially if you feel self conscious!

A good tip is to ask for recommendations in your area – and don’t always assume you’ll need a portrait photographer. If your branding is light and ethereal, perhaps a wedding photographer can capture the same mood?

Instagram is also a great way to discover photographers, and although you may have to pay travel fees if they’re not centrally based, personal branding should be something you’re absolutely willing to invest in. It’s about creating the best first impression so asking your mum to take some snaps in the back garden might not be a route you want to go down.

Going through a photographer’s portfolio enables you to see if their style is similar yours, and if they’re local, it might be worth asking if they do a 30-minute time slot to see how you fit together.

The key to a successful photographer/client relationship is having an open dialogue and sharing your thoughts and ideas. Having a Pinterest board is a great way to showcase your ideas and don’t expect them to read your mind. Be clear and concise about what you’re looking to achieve, and this way you hopefully won’t have to pay for another shoot a month or so later.

Preparing for your branding photoshoot

Points to consider with prepping for your branding photoshoot are:

1.What is your branding colour palette and does your outfit/location match this? A sure-fire way to create a less than desirable first impression is to have website images that don’t correlate to your overall aesthetic. Your clothes don’t have to match entirely to the colour palette but don’t clash.

2.If you’re planning on shooting in a local coffee shop, gym or co-working space, for example, call beforehand to ask permission. Most places will be fine, unless you’re planning on a big production. Booking an Airbnb is also a great idea if you’re wanting more interior shots, but again remember to ask for permission before you shoot as some properties don’t allow branding photoshoot like this to be carried out.

3.Take into consideration the time of day you plan to shoot in. If you’re working outside, early morning or golden hour might be a better option, but don’t worry, your photographer will have the knowledge and experience of this.

4.To maximise your time on the day of the shoot, have a shot list of images you’d like to create, from typing on your laptop, to drinking coffee, to walking or teaching.

5. Props are a great way to add depth to an image and also stop you wondering what to do with your hands. Consider your products, flowers, coffee cup, walking the dog, a pen, water bottle, tools, or laptop.

6. Find your best angle in the mirror beforehand but don’t sweat looking like an Instagram model. The best images are often the candid shots you didn’t entirely mean to happen. A relaxed mid-laugh is better than a forced smile.

7. Try and keep it high vibe! On the day, don’t let yourself get into a panic about makeup or hair or timings. Take deep breaths and keep as calm as you can. Put on some fun energetic music and keep the convo light!

8. On the day, get into a confident mindset, however challenging that may feel at first. Once the first couple of shots have been taken, you’ll start to feel more relaxed and you’ll notice a shift in your energy in front of the camera.

9. One thing I found really helped me worry less was remembering that whilst you think the photographer is looking at you posing and thinking about it or judging you, they’re not. They’re thinking about lighting, what’s in the shot, the composition etc. They want to do a good job and impress you as much as you wanna get a great photo!

10. Lastly, ask for direction from the photographer if you need help. I always say ‘I’m shit as posing so if you could give me some ideas or tell me what’s looking good it will really help!’

Are you looking to nail your personal branding this year and stand out from the competition? Read more about our latest launch, Be the Brand – a seven-week course designed to help you become the confident face of your business or freelance career.

S x