How To Slay Brand Photography
I have been doing brand photoshoots for the past 5 years to promote my business on social media and keep my online presence fresh. Here are my best tips for you so you can rock your brand photoshoot like a boss (with examples!) 📸
1. Be Yourself! 💖
This may sound obvious but it’s important. If you have a signature look, that should override the rest of my advice below. If your brand color is yellow and you ALWAYS wear yellow, wear yellow! Or if you haven’t left the house in 5 years wearing anything other than black, for heavens sake feel free to wear black. Do you! Remember the goal of the brand photoshoot is for people to get to know, like, and trust you BEFORE they meet you in person. That’s what a strong online presence is all about.
2. Wear This, Not That 👗
Don’t overthink this. Wear clothes you feel comfortable and confident in. Whether you are petite or plus size, form fitting clothing looks best on most body types. Baggy outfits will make you look bigger.
If you dislike certain features it’s perfectly fine to hide them. I hate my upper arms, so you’ll never see me taking brand photos in a tank top. If you hate your legs, wear pants!
It’s totally fine to be fashion forward, but try to pick pieces that are timeless, meaning you won’t be embarrassed by them in a few years. *Trust me, it’s HARD to get pictures of yourself off the internet once they’re on there.*
Keep it classy—don’t show too much skin, keep cleavage modest, leave your mini skirts at home and do not show your midriff… unless you’re a personal trainer wearing sports attire and your washboard abs are part of your sales pitch.
Dressy/casual is more approachable than overly dressy/formal. Only rock a power suit if you would actually wear a power suit in real life.
Don’t wear stuff that is too seasonal. I made this mistake with the burnt orange sweater on my home page. I look super cute for fall, but the rest of the year I wish I had taken that photo in something less Thanksgiving-like.
Go with soft and neutral colors because they will make your face the focal point of the photo, which is what we want. Black and bright colors or loud patterns are distracting and take the attention away from you. No bueno.
If you’re still struggling with this, just wear something you would wear to meet with a new client who you want to impress. Bring a few options to your shoot and I can help you decide. 😊
3. Hair and Makeup 💄
I recommend wearing a little more makeup than you normally would during the day because the camera tends to wash you out. If you have light brows and/or lashes, you should darken them with makeup so they don’t disappear in your photos. Trust me it’s not a good look.
If you usually don’t wear any makeup at all, wear some but go for a natural look. I recommend mascara to make your eyes pop, bronzer or blush, and a subtle lip color. If you wear no makeup at all to your photoshoot, the camera will make you look like you just rolled out of bed.
If you’re really good at doing your own hair, save your money. Personally though, I love to get a Blow Out from Blo Dry Bar. They wash your hair and style it however you want for around $45. Or if you’re super savvy, kill two birds with one stone and book your Brand Photoshoot in the afternoon on the same day that you get your hair cut and colored. Just make sure your hairdresser uses enough product or hairspray so your look will last the rest of the day.
Make sure your hands and nails look clean and presentable. Chipped nail polish is more noticeable than you think.
4. Props 🔮
It can feel awkward to take photos empty handed so bring some props. (I never know what to do with my hands. 🙈) Depending on what line of work you are in, appropriate props will vary. Props should represent YOU and your business. We are telling a story remember—your story. I like to be photographed with a coffee cup in my hand, or a glass of wine to show the laid back, fun side of my personality. If you work on a computer all day like I do, bring a laptop, tablet and phone to pose with. If you’re a beauty business pro, bring some of your favorite tools like tweezers, lash wands, etc.
5. Time of Day & Location
Wherever you decide to shoot, make sure to contact the venue in advance. Ask if they charge a fee to take photos there and whether or not you need a reservation. I have included my favorite locations to shoot in central San Diego at the bottom of this post for your convenience. 😊
You will typically get the most flattering light in the late afternoon, however, a talented photographer should be able to work with various lighting and times of day. My photographer Christian always brings supplemental lighting as well for certain shots. We typically schedule our shoots for 3–7pm.
Whether you are shooting indoors or outdoors, you want to be the focal point of the photo to be YOU so make sure the background isn’t too distracting. I love to shoot in my loft because it floods with bright indirect sunlight during the day. If your house is dark (or in need of a makeover), drive to a cute neighborhood and walk around. You’ll be surprised what nice backgrounds you can find in front of a plain wall or plant. Soft abstract art also makes a nice background.
6. What Shots to Get
If you do your brand photoshoot with us, I’ll make sure you get the following:
Headshots: these are essential for your profile pic on social media, and your ‘About’ or ‘Bio’ page on your website (which is the most visited page on your site, statistically speaking.) Even if it’s awkward make sure you get at least a few shots of you SMILING—they will attract people to you the most.
Action shots: You doing what you do best.
Lifestyle shots: This sounds more intimidating than it is. Basically this just means candid shots of you smiling, looking fabulous, laughing, walking down the street, playing on your phone, etc. These come in handy for social media, especially Instagram.
Detail shots: Up close shots of whatever is happening in your photoshoot, example below.
Venue shots: This only applies if you have a brick and mortar business or a workspace that you want to showcase.
That’s it! Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions about this post, or if you’d like to book your brand photoshoot. And don’t forget to check out my resources below to get the most out of your day in the spotlight.
My Favorite Local Beauty Resources:
Lash Extensions: Parpar House of Lash (Point Loma)
Blow Outs: Blo Dry Bar (Downtown + other locations)
Makeup: Blo Dry Bar (Downtown + other locations)
My Favorite Places to Shoot in Central San Diego:
Cafe Gratitude (Little Italy) - no fee to shoot here. Just make sure you order food and drinks!
Tocaya Organica (Downtown) - no fee to shoot here. Just make sure you order food and drinks!
Communal Coffee AKA Coffee & Flowers (North Park) - fee & reservation required
Better Buzz Coffee (Hillcrest) - fee & reservation required
Moniker General (Liberty Station) - fee & reservation required
West Bean Coffee (Banker’s Hill) - not sure about fee or reservation
Union Cowork (North Park) - not sure about fee or reservation
Hey! I’m Gretchen.
I'm a bi-coastal graphic designer turned branding specialist who lives in yoga pants and is fueled by pizza and red wine. I will use any excuse to travel and I LOVE teaching other female entrepreneurs everything I've learned about branding and digital marketing in the last four years of full-time self-employment. When I'm not in my design studio, you can find me cooking, sipping on red wine, listening to jazz, and spending quality time with family & friends.