How to Plan + Shoot a Branded photo session
And how it easy it can be!
What is a branded photo session you might ask? Well, it’s actually really simple. It’s a photo shoot that you’ve strategically planned because you want to create beautiful, on brand content so you have it to hand and in one day for the coming month(s).
It’s a really great way of making sure you have engaging and cohesive on brand content for:
Having a large bank of photos that are cohesive, on brand and engaging allows you not to rush and stress about posting to social media (and if you’re really smart you could go ahead and download my free blog schedule!) and if a member of the press reaches out, you have gorgeous imagery on hand.
I always suggest to my business clients that these sessions should be done at least once every two months and do a big batch of them. Take 1 day to plan and 1 day to shoot. That way you have a checklist of shots, you can take multiple product shots from different angles on the same set up and it’s a fun and relaxing way to create your content.
Plan your goals and objectives at the start
This is a vital step in the branded photo session and it will make your life easier, I promise. Make sure you’ve got a list of goals for the shoot - are there any special promotions coming up? Do you want to reach out to the media for a specific date in mind. All of these things should be on your checklist and you should create a shot for them.
It’s also a time for you to plan what props you need for the shoot and to make sure you have them. For example if you are a plastic free shop and you’re launching a new bamboo lunch box - are you going to shoot it with food or no food? If so, what food and what’s in the background? Will someone be holding it or will it be on the table?
I suggest writing down each shot and next to it a list of props you’ll need. You can download and print out my SHOOT CHECKLIST here.
What I like to do after I have a list of my shots is to search on Pinterest using the work “image” or “photography” at the end of my search term and create myself a mood board so that I can have it on hand during the day to give me direction. This is especially good if you’re starting out and not feeling so confident!
Colour Palette and On Brand
Two things that should be part of your checklist is making sure your colour palette is aligned with your brand and that your brand is standing out. That’s not to say that if you have blue branding every, single prop should be blue. But you want to make sure that the colour palette is appealing and reinforces YOUR brand not, taking away from your brand by being distracting. There are several ways to do this - Pantone has a great website which you can see great palette colours or go onto Pinterest and have a search for “colour palettes”.
If your colour palette isn’t pre-determined by your branding because let’s say, it’s a digital product, then really have a think about what colours you like and that feel right for the product. If you’re selling online meditation courses, you might not want to have neon colours in your shots - that definitely wouldn’t give the idea of calming or soothing.
There are some gorgeous palettes out there right now and some of my favourite are the following (you can also check out my palette pinterest board here) :
mint, fuchsia and grey
light blue, turquoise and green
lemon yellow, orange and grapefruit
Choosing your props
This is almost as fun as shooting! Now that you’ve figure out your objectives and what shots you have to take it’s time to look at props and finding them. What I like to do at this point is to figure out if I can use any props in more than one photo - we know that cost is to be considered and spending over €200 on props alone might not be an option - however, think longterm and invest in some key pieces! For example if you’re a food producer you defiantly want to purchase some gorgeous table cloths/napkins/cutlery.
Props will help you to tell a story so think carefully. Let’s take our food brand again - if one shot is to promote your Mothers Day cake sale then wouldn’t a great prop to promote that story be a mothers day card/present in the background. This hints at the idea that this is actually a Mothers Day event and tells a story. Rather than just having a cake on a table which doesn’t say anything but “cake on a table”.
Your intention and soulful purpose
This is where our checklist come in so handy and keeps us on track. Every shot we are taking should have a purpose and a meaning. Do we want the customer to feel inspired - so inspired that they purchase our online course? Or perhaps they feel so emotional about the locket you make. If you’re selling household items how about styling the shot to show how the customer could use it in their house? Or a food item, tell a story - how many people are sitting at the table, is it a special event. Style with purpose and be intentional.
We want to be able to create lots of variants so that we can get as much life out each shot and set up as possible. Switch out props or move them around. Think about what your shot will be used for - does there need to be blank space for text or is for the media and they want a tight close up? Aim to create 10 shots in a day and of that perhaps 2-3 varients.
Hope you guys can see the difference here between the two shots. Nothing wrong with the second but it’s not story telling, it doesn’t say anything apart from “I’m a product”. The first image is telling a story, Perhaps the box was in her bag, she’s got her sunnies out so it’s obviously a great day, the green plant suggests healthy and eco friendly, which the brand is.
I want you to get REALLY good at story telling. Customers purchase from companies because of their story. Because of their messaging and if your brand messaging is cohesive and on point then there is no problem.
Photograph like a pro
Ok, so several things, if you’re using a camera phone - which, can be PERFECTLY acceptable for social media then first things first, clean your lens!! So many people forget this tiny little detail and it does make such a difference.
Second, you want to shoot from as many angles as possible. I free hand most of the time but do obviously own a tripod (because it’s my job!) but you don’t need plenty of fancy gear. This is again a time to beg and borrow if you don’t want to purchase your own DSLR!
Make sure you get a shot from over head (flat lay), straight on, at an angle, close up and play around. Make sure you also take a vertical and horizontal shot! You never know when this can come in handy. Pinterest loves a vertical where as horizontal will be better for your blog.