Visual Branding Essentials: How To Plan A Photoshoot

A photo, to any emerging business and brand, is like seasoning to a turkey dinner- without it? Well, your brand’s message can be tasteless or even worse…leave a bad taste in a potential investor, partner or customer’s mouth. Ew.

The goal of every entrepreneur? Making your business and brand easily visible, likable (digestible — yep we continued with the food analogy), and appetizing enough, to attract the right clients and partners.  With the internet at your grasp, there are millions of potential consumers. The pressure is on, ensuring that your product or service is taken seriously and attracting the right clients.

Thus investing in creating vivid and expressive stock photos for your company, is one sure way of attracting the right eyes.  Although having professional photographs can be extremely costly and time-consuming, regardless, we can’t stress enough how essential it is to have photos that are of quality, are in high resolution, and well branded (customized to the taste of your target demographics – especially if competing globally).

Perhaps in our next post, we will share tips on how to cut costs and still maintain quality services…..but we digress.

Professional photographs are the building blocks for the following:

1. Portfolio
2. Lookbook
3. Advertising
4. Social Media
5. Website
6. Investor Relations
7. Public Relations (features and mentions)
8. Events
9. Promotional Marketing Materials

In any industry,  in your absence,  photographs will speak for you and will be the face of your company. Therefore here are four tips on planning a successful photo shoot, resulting in professional, and brand-building content for you to use:

1. Have a clear vision (get on the geeky glasses) helps to plan a photoshoot

Are you, your product, or service inspired by vintage, old Hollywood, 1950’s, or nature? Or perhaps you are a beauty company with products that are organic, luxurious, or rich in hues for darker skin clients. Either way, the clearer your inspiration and vision for your brand, the easier your brand’s message will translate into your photoshoot and any stock images you create.  The photographer, stylist,  and beauty team will follow in unity, if and only if your vision is clear.

If you want to get crazy with it, we’d even advise for you to have four (two mainstream magazines and two digital magazines, with a large following) that you would like your brand to be featured in.

Also, having a list of ways photos will be used before the photo shoot will allow you to plan the type of shots that will be taken during the shoot and eliminate having photos that cannot be used or are awkward in campaigns.


2. Budget  (cha-ching) helps to plan a photo shoot 

a. Barter: If you’re low on $$greens, try collaborating with other emerging photographers, makeup artists, stylists, etc. that are like-minded. Offer them “gifts”  (products, services) from your company, in exchange for their services.

b. Honorary Payment: Some people just love you, your brand, your vision and believe in all that you do. This is favor! Nevertheless, paying something, even if a fraction of their actual prices tag, lets them know you do not take them for granted.

c. Tear Sheets/ Credit: Although you should provide credit at all times, where ever possible. If you’re a brand that has attracted some publicity, participants may be willing to offer services in exchange for placements in magazines or online platforms.

d. Beg: Yes, we said it. There are times that you will have to pull in favors. To get to where you got to go; pulling, pushing, kicking and screaming are sometimes a part of the activities you must engage in.


3. Research & development (yawnnn, but necessary) helps to plan a photoshoot:

A. Location

a. Find a place that fits your photoshoot theme

b. Confirm that you do not need any permits or licenses to occupy a space (indoor or outdoor)

c. If outdoor, check the weather constantly (dahhh!)

d. Have two backup locations for your photo shoot

e. Work with the photographer to ensure that lighting will provide preferred outcome

f. Work with artists and stylists to ensure the number of necessary outlets and lighting

B. Staff 

a. Photographers: Most of your photoshoot budget should be allocated towards this step in the process. Securing a photographer can either be done through an agency (since they may have an established relationship with the photographer and negotiate better pricing) or by yourself. If you are doing so on your own,  ensure that you’ve seen the photographer’s body of work (digital and print photography). If you can, review their referrals. Also, confirm that their pricing includes touching up the photos.  Ask the photographer what you will receive regarding files (raw photos).

b. Makeup Artists & Hairstylists: Try to find a  beauty agency that has both and confirm that each artist has worked together (as there is nothing worse than a cat fight on set.)  Ask for portfolios and their vision for executing your planned looks.

c. Stylists: This is the icing on the cake. But necessary if you want a delicious treat. The stylist should worry about pulling accessories, props, and other theme setting objects. Your photoshoot theme (1950’s chic, organic, regal, urban life, luxury, high-life) should reflect your brand’s message.

C. Gather inspiration 

We said research and gather inspiration! Not copy and paste other people’s ideas. Research what other brands in your field have done or are doing for photo shoots. Feel free to collect those photos for personal ( non-commercial use).

Do you notice any trends in colors, hairstyles, makeup, scenery, styling or would you rather be entirely different from the group of competitors within your industry?

There isn’t anything wrong with creating an inspiration board. Using Pinterest to create your inspiration board is savvy and can be used to engage your fan base (using a social media platform, as a tool for promotion is a good way to begin the buzz about your upcoming brand’s launch).

Not to mention, using Pinterest’s secret board will allow you to share with your entire photoshoot team, eliminating unnecessary emails. You may also allow each teammate to be a contributor, helping you expand your vision via their expertise.

4. Law & order:

Although there are so many other valuable tips, we thought Legal documentation is extremely essential.

Model release forms, Photographer agreements detailing everyone’s terms will prevent any future litigation, misunderstanding, damaged relationships, and or mishaps.

Hold everyone accountable and send out some form of documentation detailing expectations, locations, expected hours,   and your favorite meal on the beach [ just checking to ensure you’re listening]. But in all seriousness, ensure that you are detailed in the documentation, confirm twice and three times if you need to.




This four letter word makes people’s heart melt. Try to provide yummy bites for the big day. We’ve found that people work a lot better when they are fed.

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