How to prepare for a personal branding photoshoot
Your brand is not a logo.
Repeat, your brand is not a logo.
Sure, a logo can be part of branding, but it's a common misconception that it's all you need.
Your brand is the values, the voice, the experience, the language, the messaging - the EVERYTHING that we associate with you as a personal brand.
- It's the language that you use.
- It's what you stand for.
- It's your unique approach.
- It's what you offer.
- It's how we percieve you.
More on that in another post, but you can also delve into this excellent article by Neil Patel and Aaron Agius on Quickspout for a nice overview.
But for now, let's think about a personal branding shoot; the benefits it has for your business, why you may (or may not) need one, and how to prepare successfully for your shoot.
The Power of Photography for your Personal Brand
Using photography is a super smart way to convey who you are your personality and quirks in a lightning fast, almost subliminal way.
Ok, not *that* subliminal.
The sciency-things show that "the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Since we are visual by nature, we can use this skill to enhance data processing". (via T Sciences).
Essentially, a picture paints a thousand words, and your photos can speak for you instantly.
[See also: this podcast interview with Carrie Montgomery on style archetyping]
Your bio's, your intros, your magnetic one liners that we work on in the Brilliance Hub are super important too - but a personal branding photoshoot does the visual heavy lifting for you.
The obvious benefit of having a set of awesome pics is that they can do the talking for you while you have a bad hair day/duvet day/introvert hard day.
Something I know rather a lot about if you follow me on social media. Or know me. Or you are my cat.
Your imagery is out there working for you, 24/7, while you get on with serving clients, creating awesome courses and content, running a biz, and hula hooping/playing the ukulele.
The shoot needs to convey your brand, not confuse it.
So we know that photography conveys a message really quickly on your behalf.
That being a given, if a personal branding shoot is doing the hard work for you, it needs to, ya know, look like you and actually represent you. #trudat
This may sound obvious, I know, but it's surprising how many brand images there are that have a disconnect to the personal brand message.
This can actually have a detrimental effect on your personal brand material.
An essential step before hiring a photographer, therefore, is to be clear on your own values, brand mission, and your "you-ness" - or what I refer to as your Personal Power Paradigm, something we delve into in the Brilliance Hub.
Being clear on your unique lens on things, and your how you fit into the market and business landscape is an essential step in being clear of your own brilliance; when I work through this process with clients, the confidence that arises from really connecting with who you are and what you bring is immense.
I had a recent shoot with the super lovely Sarah Ra'anan, which have really captured me and my personality (see some examples right here >>)
Make sure your photographer knows what you want before the shoot
Sarah sent me a Pinterest board before our shoot, onto which she had pinned some ideas for the look and feel of our desired shots. I could then take a peep (this part got me SO excited for shoot day!), and then add my suggestions to the board.
We then jumped on a call on Zoom and chatted through my brand.
We went through what I wanted from the images, what I planned to be wearing, and checked we were on the same page.
Meeting Sarah in this way and collaborating before we started the shoot itself meant that not only did I feel looked after way before the day itself, but I knew I would be in good hands.
On the day itself was super relaxed, and was at ease with Sarah, whose super power is most definitely "seeing" people through the lens of her camera.
We were done in just under 2 hours, and I had a whole range of photos to use for social media, this blog, my head shots, PR material and so much more.
So, do you *need* a professional personal brand photography shoot?
Well, if you are just getting started in biz and your budget is tight, I would say make the most of your smartphone selfies and get creative.
I happily used shots such as these from my humble iPhone for 2 years before jumping back in with my shoot with Sarah.
Well, my business and brand were evolving, and I wanted to wait until I felt much more certain about my direction before getting anything professional done. Also, with some filters and some Canva tweaking, you can go a long way with a good old selfie, so don't put pressure on yourself.
However, when the time is right and you are ready to amp up your game, a professional personal brand photography shoot is a key investment that reaps huge rewards with your brand presence very quickly indeed.
For my time with Sarah, I didn't book a professional make up artist and hairdresser, I just did my own.
However, as business grows and evolves it's definitely something I would do, but more for the fun of it.
I took along some props - my phone, a change of hairband, my laptop - and a change of clothes and shoes, and we got SO much done it was just incredible.
Here is an incredible side effect of seeing amazing pics of yourself: your confidence goes sky high. In fact, having a photoshoot is something I would recommend doing at some point purely for the experience of seeing yourself in a new way, and also allowing someone else to "see" you.
You can tell I hated it.
So, in prep for your own personal branding shoot, here is my advice:
#1: Make sure you are clear on your brand and your values before booking someone. If not, play around with selfies until you are ready. Don't feel pressured to spend money before you need to or look at what other people around you are doing.
#2: Find a photographer who is a great fit for you. Ask around for recommendations, or if you see some pics you like, ask who took them.
#3: Pin examples of shots that you like, but be open to suggestions from your photographer. After all, it's their genius you are hiring!
#4: Have a chat with your photographer before the shoot and before making your booking. You will need to feel at ease in front of the camera, so a good personality fit is essential.
#5: Think about your clothes, colours, and any props you might want to use in your shoot.
#6: Remember that you are individual, and although you might take inspiration from other shots, do your own thing and work with your photographer for some interesting pics.
Lastly, HAVE FUN! Being the centre of attention and feeling like a celebrity is certainly a fun way to spend an afternoon, so enjoy it and relax.