Are you feeling like it’s about time to refresh your brand headshots and create imagery that really speaks to your ideal client?
If so, investing in a brand photoshoot may be on your mind.
Every creative entrepreneur will have a different reaction to taking brand photos. You might feel incredibly excited to tap into your creativity, or you might dread being in front of the camera. (Don’t worry; it gets easier with practice!)
No matter where you land, a brand photoshoot can be a great way to position yourself as an expert and create consistent visuals your audience will love. Once you have a collection of brand photos, you can repurpose them and highlight each image on your website, social media, and other marketing materials.
The key to a successful brand photoshoot is choosing the right brand photographer.
If you aren’t sure which questions to ask your brand photographer to confirm if they’re the right fit, the rest of this article will walk you through the consultation process.
Many of these questions will also come with unique insights from my own brand photographer, Josie Derrick, with a behind-the-scenes look into our photoshoot in Savannah, GA. Keep reading to learn more!
The best questions to ask before hiring a brand photographer
Before you can ask your brand photographer a series of questions, you may also want to clarify a few questions for yourself.
If you’re not aware of the purpose of your brand photoshoot, or you haven’t thought about what you want to do with the brand images, it might be time to whip out your journal or spend some time quietly reflecting on these questions.
- What am I hoping to get out of my brand photoshoot?
- Why is now the right time for my photoshoot?
- Do I have a clear picture of where I’d like to be?
- How will a photoshoot help me reach my goals?
- Do I know who my target audience is?
- How will I use the final brand photos?
After answering these questions, the next step is to research brand photographers and narrow down your list to a few front runners.
From there, you can fill out their website contact form and ask them questions in your email. Better yet, ask if you can jump on a free discovery call with them! Some photographers offer these calls in order to get a feel for your personality and see if your photoshoot sounds like a fit for them.
During your discovery call or in your emails, here are the most important questions to ask.
What does your process look like?
Before hiring a brand photographer, it’s important to know what their process looks like. You may be hyper-focused on what kind of brand imagery you’ll come away with, but the best brand photos are born out of great collaborations.
It’s good to ask this question because you’ll have a clear idea of what their client experience is like. Do they offer strategy sessions inside your package? Do they help you hire a creative team, including hairstylists and makeup artists? All of these questions and more will be answered when you ask about their process.
Josie also recommends asking how a brand photographer works best. Are they hands-off or really hands-on? Do they like to create the vision for the shoot or do they want you to lead the strategy? Based on their answer, you’ll be able to see if they’re a great fit for your brand photoshoot.
What’s included in the brand photography package?
This information might already be available on the brand photographer’s website, but it’s good to ask specific questions about the deliverables on your discovery call. If you want to understand the value of a certain item or aren’t sure what a particular deliverable is, you can ask these questions candidly on the call.
Most brand photographers will offer pre-made packages, but some may be open to customizing a package to fit your needs. It’s best to ask early if this is an option, especially if you have a specific vision in mind for your brand photoshoot.
You may also want to ask your photographer what their turnaround time looks like. Josie delivered a few sneak peek photos about one week after our shoot but the full gallery arrived after three weeks. Each brand photographer will be different, so be sure to ask if timing is a dealbreaker for you!
Here’s an example of some of the deliverables inside the brand photography package I booked with Josie, which had everything I needed and more:
- Shoot directive
- Planning meeting
- Gallery of 175-200 images (see below)
- List of props and scenes
Some of these elements distinguish brand photographers from photographers in other niches who are open to capturing your brand photos. Experienced brand photographers may come with a higher price tag, but much more is included in your package and they know their process inside and out. I highly recommend working with someone who specializes in brand photography if you can!
How many hours are included in the brand photoshoot?
Some brand photographers may offer a half-day or full-day photoshoot for your brand while others may ask for a couple hours of your time. Josie likes to keep her photoshoots to four hours and she only books up to four sessions per month, but every brand photographer will structure their packages and calendar differently.
By understanding the amount of time you need to get the right brand imagery, you’ll be able to look at your schedule and compare available dates with each potential photographer. Once you find a date that works for both of you, you can officially book it when you’re ready.
If I can give you one tip, it’s to take off the whole day of your brand photoshoot, even if you’re only capturing photos for a few hours. This will allow you to approach the day from a slower, more stress-free perspective.
Since your makeup and hair is already done, you can end your photoshoot with a night out with your best girlfriends or meet your significant other for a date night! This makes the day feel even more enjoyable so it’s something you look forward to.
How would we choose the right location?
The location of your brand photoshoot has a direct impact on the quality of your brand imagery. When you shoot in the perfect location, everything comes together naturally. It’s also good to ask if the brand photographer is willing to travel to multiple locations before you book them so you’re aware of how this may affect their timeline.
However, Josie recommends choosing only two to three locations. She says, “You don’t want to spend all day driving around. Choosing one super solid location that can cover multiple scenes is the best way to go.”
If your home doesn’t feel like the perfect spot for your photoshoot, don’t worry! It’s actually less stressful to shoot outside of your home, which is why 80% of Josie’s clients choose this route.
For my own session, we booked an Airbnb (which is becoming more common!) and spent most of our time there. Here are some of the brand photos we took inside this gorgeous space. I love my Harlem apartment, but I could totally live in this Airbnb!
Afterward, Josie and I didn’t have to venture too far to find what we were looking for. Downtown Savannah was such a great spot for my photoshoot. We stopped at a pretty outside area and ended in a cute coffee shop (pre-COVID, of course!). Here are a couple of those photos.
At the time of publishing this article, the pandemic is still very much a thing, so Josie recommends taking COVID guidelines and procedures into consideration. You absolutely should ask your brand photographer what precautions are in place to ensure your safety and the safety of others. (As a tip, a private Airbnb might be a really great option for you in the meantime!)
If you do shoot in public places, it’s important for your brand photographer to ask for written permission to do so. There’s nothing worse than showing up to a restaurant or coffee shop and not having the right permission to capture the dreamy photos you’ve been envisioning. It’s a good question to ask your photographer, especially if you have a specific location in mind.
What does your creative team look like?
Brand photoshoots usually go beyond the creative and strategic direction of your photographer. They can also include a hairstylist, makeup artist, prop stylist, wardrobe stylist, and more! You may already have an idea of which artisans you want to work with, but if you’re not sure, you can consult with the brand photographer.
Most photographers will have a set of vendors they love working with, so you’ll be able to work with their most trusted partners. If you have a specific vendor in mind, some photographers may allow you to book them separately for the shoot. This is a good conversation to have before you book the photographer.
Josie says, “There’s nothing like having someone on set who can style the next scene while we are shooting the one right before. It can be a game changer, especially for those who need flat lays, product photos, and stock-style photos. If you want to take your shoot to the next level, a stylist could be the best way to get there!”
Other questions to ask your brand photographer
There are so many more questions you can ask that didn’t make it onto this initial list. If you’re hoping to dive in deep and make sure all of your questions have been answered, here are a few honorable mentions.
- How would you describe your shooting style?
- How would you describe your visual aesthetic?
- Who are your favorite clients to work with (i.e. specific industries)?
- What’s your favorite part of a photoshoot day?
With that, you’ll have all the questions you need to make an informed decision on who to hire. If you aren’t sure, you can consult with your closest friends or your partner. In the end, go with your gut and trust your instincts!
Essential questions to ask before your brand photoshoot
Now that you’re ready to hire your brand photographer, the next step might look like signing a contract and paying an invoice to lock your spot in their calendar.
Your brand photographer will likely walk you through the rest of their process and answer many of these questions before you ask them, but just in case, here are some of the things you’ll want to know before the day of your shoot.
How will we gather inspiration for the photoshoot?
If you’re anything like me, you may have more than one folder of magazine clippings and photography inspiration. No matter how much inspiration you’ve gathered so far, remember to consult with your photographer to ensure you’re following their signature process.
In Josie’s process, I was tasked with creating a Pinterest board of images I naturally gravitated toward. Most of the things I pinned were based on my mood or interiors, patterns, colors, locations, art, and styles I loved.
Then, Josie pulled the inspiration together into a cohesive moodboard to represent the look and feel of my brand photoshoot.
This is a really fun part of the process because it feels like your photoshoot becomes much more real. Moodboarding is a common practice for photographers and designers, so don’t be surprised if it’s included in your package!
What outfits should I wear?
This is such an important question because wearing an “off” outfit can impact the whole photoshoot. Your personal style is a form of self-expression, so it’s important to choose outfits that feel on-brand but also genuinely feel like you.
Josie recommends choosing three to four outfit options. It might be helpful to bring an extra outfit (or two) just in case, but for the most part, this number will be a great fit for most creative entrepreneurs. You don’t want to spend most of your time changing clothes, but it is good to have a variety so it doesn’t look like every photo was shot in one day (even though it was!).
Here are a few more questions Josie says to ask yourself before choosing an outfit:
- Does this outfit feel like me?
- How do I feel in this outfit, really?
- Will I be able to wear this piece after my photoshoot?
- Will this still look great a year from now (or more)?
- Why am I choosing to wear this outfit?
- What does this outfit say about my brand?
- Does this fit my brand aesthetic?
The last question is incredibly important because your aesthetic should be defined by your brand colors and other visual elements. For example, since my brand colors involve different shades of blue and neutral tans, it wouldn’t make sense for me to wear a magenta sweater. It might look beautiful, but if it clashes with my branding, it will stand out… but not in the way I want it to.
If you want to mix in some fun pieces, you can always add accessories or pops of color in your shoes. For my shoot, I decided to wear a fun patterned blazer and blouse for a few photos. They still feel so much like me. Get creative with your styling!
If this is difficult for you to wrap your head around, don’t worry. You’re not the only one. You can consult with your brand photographer or hire a wardrobe stylist to help you pull the right pieces together. Oh, and don’t forget to paint your nails before the big day!
What kind of props should I bring?
While you will be shooting many brand photos with you in them, this is also a great time to capture styled imagery for your social media feed and website. This will give you more variety and showcase your work in a different way. If you sell products, this can also be a great way to show them off.
The props you bring are completely dependent on what you do, who is involved in your shoot, and the main goal you’re trying to achieve. It’s important for your props to feel like a fit with your brand rather than putting random items into your photo that don’t have meaning to you or your work.
If you aren’t sure which props you may want to use, here are a few examples from Josie:
- Meaningful everyday items
- Items that tell a story about you or your business
- Items pertaining to routines in your business
- Tools you use on the daily
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money on new office supplies, but it’s nice to bring along a few notebooks, journals, and any other brand elements that showcase your process.
Outside of props, Josie also recommends bringing your favorite playlist so you can listen to music that makes you feel at ease. Trust me, it’s way more fun to take photos with music in the background than shooting in total silence.
What do I need to know to have the best photoshoot possible?
Each brand photographer is going to have a completely different set of advice for this question. That’s what makes them so unique and special. When I asked Josie this question, she gave me a list of things to keep in mind.
- Plan ahead so you can enjoy the day of the photoshoot.
- Bring that item. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
- If family or pets are included, make sure they have somewhere to go after their scene.
- Let things flow the day of the photoshoot instead of being overly structured.
- Remember to eat, which sounds silly but it happens.
With that, you have everything you need for your brand photoshoot! I hope this article has helped you feel more prepared and excited about booking a brand photographer for your shoot.
Now go create some beautiful imagery for your business!