Moodboard → Brand Photoshoot ft. Amazon Props
No matter where you are in your business, planning a brand photoshoot with a LEGIT PHOTOGRAPHER (not just your daughter or boyfriend with an iPhone) is so so so worth the investment. Read: Branded Photography and Why you Need it for Your Small Business. From web, to social to blogs, print marketing and more, having your own stock pile of images to pull from will save you time, stress, and headaches. In this blog, I will suggest my tips for planning a photoshoot and sourcing props that are consistent with your branding.
Before you get started -
Gather Inspiration - Before you start planning your brand shoot, you need to get clear on your goals. What are the feelings you want to evoke? What is the audience you want to reach with these photos? Where will they be used? (For example, it is always a good idea to get a few frames with lots of negative space for cover photos and web banners). Pinterest is your best friend here. I started a board just for Creative Professional Headshots here!
Source your Photographer - If you don’t have a photographer in mind, ask! Use the facebook groups in your community to ask about Brand Photographers in your area. Search instagram via hashtags like #yourcityphotographer or #photographeryourcity. When looking for a photographer ask for a 1-4 hour length shoot, with about 30-50 final frames. Costs vary, but most often, this will set you back $400-$800.
*Be sure this photographer’s style MATCHES your aesthetic. If your branding is bright, light and pastel, avoid a photographer who does only dark, moody photography. Your priorities in selecting brand photographers should be: clean, crisp, high quality, and consistent with your brand style.
Find Locations - Just like you used Instagram or Pinterest to find a photographer, search for similar hashtags or search terms for photoshoot locations in your area. Go to’s are coffee shops, restaurants, libraries, parks, etc. Just make sure that you have photography permissions from the location owner before you start your shoot.
It’s on and PROPPIN’
Below are three examples of brand mood boards I’ve designed (Read: Getting Started with Moodboards), and the types of props I would suggest for the corresponding brand photoshoots. All products are linked so get shoppin’!
Social Media Manager Branding
Using this mood board, some of the props I would suggest to a Social Media Manager are anything that she would use in her day to day job that could ALSO help communicate her brand colors of teal, pink, blue and white.
To start, what good is a social media manager without her trusty coffee? Instead of the usual ceramic mug, I think that this Busy Mug from Ban.do is perfectly on brand. If you know you’ll be working with your photographer on close range shots to show your working progress, PLEASE get a manicure ahead of time. Bonus points for nail art (I’ve been collecting nail art ideas on Pinterest here) or doing something unexpected like this Iridescent Nail Polish from OPI.
Social Media Managers spend a lot of time on their Smart Phones, scheduling posts, adding hashtags, and responding to comments on the go. Use your phone as a prop, but work in your branding my making sure the phone case is the right color. On-Brand Teal Phone Case Better yet, get a custom case made with your logo on it.
When you aren’t selling a physical product, it can be difficult to illustrate what it is that you do in images. I think that a Desktop Calendar would make a killer prop for a Social Media Manager themed shoot because you could show how you come up with content plans the old fashioned way… Circling important dates, or writing out terms like “LAUNCH” or “GIVEAWAY” on the calendar will give you your own stock photos to play with for blog, web and social.
A play on the name… this Social Media Manager’s businesses is called The Developing Professional. We are in the process of designing her logo, but we are pretty confident we will be using ‘develop’ in terms of photography terminology as our brand metaphor. Incorporating one of these Polaroid Instax Camera in the brand photos brings the message full circle. Lastly, BOOKS make for great brand photoshoot props. Make sure that the cover art and title are consistent with your messaging. For example: Influencer
When building out a brand photoshoot for a personal brand, like the one I am helping to plan or Elena Parent, we couldn’t get too crazy. A first I wanted to suggest banners and letterboards, but my inner PR voice said “BAD IDEA” as signs, posters, and the like can be so easily photoshopped to say not-so-good things, so let’s avoid that!
Instead, I sourced classic, timeless accessories that will make for GREAT on-brand photos. I saw these I Voted Stickers in some of the Unsplash photos we sourced as free stock for the moodboard, and I think that the design has a bit of a retro feel which I love. Also, we couldn’t have a shoot without classic this American Flag. The smaller version of the real deal is great for shots like holding the flag, giving it to someone, or waving around.
When you’re getting dressed for your brand photos, it is important first and foremost to feel comfortable in whatever you’re wearing. Putting intention into your wardrobe is professional and attention grabbing. For Elena, something structured and detailed like a classic Navy Blazer shows that she knows her stuff and can get down to business.
To bring in the touch of red from the branding, I’ll suggest a Classic Red Lipstick, but something more on the darker side. Bright red can be a bit distracting, and deep red can read a little vampy. If you’re struggling with lipstick color, go into a Sephora or other make up counter ahead of time and have them suggest the best color for your skin tone.
When planning your shoot, think of what objects you likely use every day. Some nice Heavy Duty Pens would be a great addition to the brand shoot because the photographer can get those close crop shots of Elena taking notes, signing bills, and writing letters. These silver pens are much better than whatever random ones are rolling around at the bottom of your purse.
As in the social media example, books make for fabulous props (bonus points if you’ve already read them and can work the wisdom into your marketing content!) During the design process, we talked a lot about the Obama's’ personal branding and how we feel like we know who they are as people and not just public figures. Including Inspirational Books like “Becoming” by Michelle Obama would be a perfect prop for this photoshoot.
Over the years, I’ve helped dozens of Interior Designers launch their brands and websites. I found that many newbie designers struggle when it came to photography because they either don’t yet have work to photograph, or the work they have done doesn’t quite reflect their style. This is a great opportunity to create your own brand photoshoot with the elements you can control! With the right props, you can set the scene for brand photos that will help illustrate to your ideal client what your working process is like on your best day.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to start to create some great photos. For example, look to your closet to find glasses, scarves, earrings or other accessories that match your brand feel. For example, there is something so quintessentially ‘designer’ about these Tortise Shell Readers. Their larger size and color variance turn them more to a fashion statement than a tool.
Where would any good designer be without her Paint Deck in hand? Do yourself a favor and order a fresh one, not the one that’s been rolling around the trunk of your car, for your brand photoshoot. Use the entire fan, or pull out specific swatches that match your branding. Use them in flat lays, storyboards, or simply sitting right next to your laptop in your brand photos.
Think about what you use to show up to your job sites. Having clients’ files in a nice leather Padfolio in one of your brand colors screams professional and polished. Nestle in some unique office supplies like this Quirky Kate Spade Calculator to show you care about crunching the numbers and getting your clients the best price!
Similar to the nail polish in the Social Media Manager example, hit up your closet or amazon for some Funky Mules! Think of how you can take photos of flooring that add some LIFE by getting your sweet feet in them! Choosing a print like leopard, stripes or polka dots is a lot more interesting to look at, and then you wear the same for consultations, it will be a nice little moment of visual consistency between your blog, web and social media.
If you don’t yet have a whole space to photograph, set up mini vignettes in your brand colors using props like this Oversized Coffee Table Book - The Finer Things and fresh florals. Not only is the cover a nice visual, but the pages more often than not have beautiful photography from which you can seek inspiration.
As you can see from the examples above, you don’t have to break your bank to plan a killer brand photo shoot with your photographer. A few other resources that might help you out in planning your photoshoot would be:
As I mentioned above, these brands are all in the process of planning THEIR brand photoshoots, and I will report back with the final products! At the end of the day, if you HATE your photos, just remember they are just photos and you’re not married to them for all of eternity. However, if you take the time to plan accordingly, I can promise you’ll have content for daaaaayzzz.