Planning a branding photography shoot

branding | business | events | photography
man in cafe headshots

If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know what the difference is between branding and commercial photography. You’ll also know what branding photography can do for your business. In part three, it’s time to start talking about planning a branding photography shoot. Because these shoots do take a little planning to ensure your photographer captures everything you need in the way you want them to! So, grab a notebook and pen, take some notes, because we’re about to get planning!

Knowing your brand

It might seem pointless to mention this, but if you don’t yet know your brand, then it is not worth booking a branding photography session.

That seems like a pretty sweeping statement but think about it this way. If you don’t know who your business is for, what you want to say to them or how you want to say it, then how do you know your branding photography is going to appeal to the right people? 

So, don’t throw yourself into having some photographs taken. Take some time, first of all, to consider your brand and what messages you want to convey through it and, in turn, your photography. You’ll save yourself a lot of money in the long run by figuring out those things first!

man in cafe headshots

Incorporating your brand into your images

Once you know your brand, you can figure out how you want it to be shown in your photographs.

That sounds like a simple statement, doesn’t it? But here are some things to consider: 

  • Branding colours

Are your colours warm or cool? What sort of tones are they? What clothing colours should you wear? What locations reflect or complement your colours? Are there any colours that you wouldn’t want appearing in your branding photographs?

  • Logos

Is yours the kind of business that has a recognisable logo? If so, would it be beneficial to incorporate this into your photographs – perhaps through clothing or some other merchandise? 

  • Words and feelings

What words would you use to describe your business? What feelings do you want your business to convey? And how would you like to show that in your photographs? For example, you might want people to feel peaceful and calm. So, images of neon colours and you doing star jumps probably won’t work!

  • Props

Do you have particular items that represent your brand and appear a lot in your words and images? Do you have some favourite props that will convey this? One of my clients had a headshot session in a sunflower field as sunflowers were a big part of her brand. When she had a further session in her home studio, she brought the sunflower idea back by placing one on her desk. Remember, it doesn’t have to be in your face. Subtle works just as well!


Choosing where to have your shoot should come naturally when you know what sort of look you’re going for. If you want shots of you working, you’ll need your workspace or a location you can turn into a workspace. Depending on the kind of work you do, you might need an office or a desk. Some people like to show themselves working in coffee shops and other relaxed spaces. This takes the corporate edge off of what they do.

You may want to incorporate a few different ideas. You may want some inside and some outside shots, so you have plenty of different images to choose from. Try to have some location ideas in mind and be practical. It’s not wise to choose locations that are an hour apart, for example. Your photographer will either withdraw this from your shooting time or charge extra fees to cover the distance. Also, plan for bad weather. Have indoor backups, just in case. Or discuss the possibility of rescheduling with your photographer beforehand. If they’re given enough notice, most photographers will be happy to reschedule if they can!

man stands in front of a plane headshots

Clothes, hair and makeup

For the most part, I find that people who have had their hair and makeup done tend to feel much better about having their photographs taken. Add in wearing clothes that they feel comfortable in and make them feel good and you have the recipe for a great photoshoot!

Of course, I’m all for going natural as well, if that’s your thing. The point is to be comfortable with how you’re looking so that confidence shines through on camera and in your images. 

Don’t assume your photographer is going to spend hours airbrushing you in Photoshop afterwards. If you want to look a certain way in your images, make sure you’re looking that way before the photographs are taken! Airbrushing takes a lot of time and skill, so there’s likely to be additional charges for that service. Do check with your photographer though, if this is important to you.

As mentioned above, wear clothing that reflects your brand. And bring a few different options as there may be scope to try more than one of them out. 

Should I use props?

Yes! Having things to do or to concentrate on can take some of the awkwardness of being photographed taken away. Also, it’s great to get shots of you doing something other than looking straight at the camera. 

Ideas can include a notebook, a laptop or other tool to show you working. If you’re a photographer, for example, bring your camera! You might want some photographs of you relaxing as well as working. So, bring a favourite book or have a cup of coffee to hand. Better yet, if you’re in a coffee shop, order a drink and a slice of cake and enjoy those while having your photographs taken! If you’re at home, have some shots taken in your favourite relaxing spot. Maybe even see if the cat will curl up and have some shots taken with you! *No guarantees – cats do what they want, not what we tell them!

If you’re a maker, why not get some shots of you making? I’ve shot bakers baking, artists and crafters making their beautiful creations, jewellers at work and even a soap maker mixing and creating her beautiful soaps. Getting some shots like these to show people what goes on behind the scenes is always fun.

Creating a shot list

I wouldn’t typically suggest this. But, when it comes to branding photography, only you know what images you want to show off your business on your website, in your marketing and on your social media. Your branding photographer can suggest ideas too. But it’s you, as the business owner, who needs to have a good idea on how you are going to use those images. 

So, jot down some ideas about how you want your photographs to look. You don’t have to be too detailed but having an idea in your head of how you want to use the photographs will help to decide on particular shots. For example, if you want to create a series of quotes to share on social media, you might want some flat lays on which you can add some text. Or you might want to use some of your headshots with overlaid text or other branding elements. So, you’ll need some blank space for those.

You don’t need to write every shot down, but do write your most important ones so your photographer can ensure they get them all for you. Try to leave enough space for your photographer to suggest ideas and show their artistic vision, too. Ultimately, your shoot is a collaboration of creative minds. So, work together and the magic will happen!

There you have it, my tips for planning your branding photography session. At the end of the day, the best advice I can give you is to talk it all out with your photographer. Share your ideas, allow them to offer theirs and work together to come up with a plan for your shoot. Your photographer will tell you what will and won’t work. But they will also come up with alternative suggestions that you might even prefer!

I love working with small businesses to create great branding photographs. If you’d like to find out more about booking a shoot, get in touch and let’s have a chat!

Next: What Happens on the Day of Your Branding Shoot