I think personal branding sessions are one of the most important things you can
be doing if you own your own business and and need to sell your brand on a regular basis.
Have a look through my instagram and website to see how often I'm making use of the types of images in this blog post, and how I leverage them to tell personal stories to pull in clients, and share daily bits of my life. I currently have a large amount of new enquiries coming from clients finding me on instagram and facebook, and I find that I need to show up and be a big part of my brand.
I am constantly inspired by some amazing brandologists such as: Jasmine Star, Jenna Kutcher and Marie Forleo - all of whom are big believers in telling your own story, sharing yourself as part of building your business and creating clear visuals for your brand.
STEP ONE: THE IDEA
My first step is always to conceptualise. At the time of writing this post, I was busy putting together an autumn/winter-inspired personal branding shoot for myself - which was motivated by the first chilly snaps of autumn sneaking in, and the realisation that I need new images to use on my social media and website for the cold months of the year - things like pictures of hands wrapped around steaming mugs of coffee, and pics of myself cosy-ing up in snuggly layers, editing photos on the couch - the perfect post-able pics for those cold days; as well as some chic and sophisticated images to match my new corporate identity launch in early March 2018.
STEP TWO: FORMULATE THE LOOK AND FEEL
Luckily I've been in this business since early 2013, and even long before that I got a BA Corporate Communication, so I know a LOT about marketing and advertising - but if this stuff is new to you, now is the time to head on over to this other blog post, and answer the prep questions to get yourself in the right frame of mind (it's all the good stuff - like about ideal clients, target markets, desired use of images, how you want to portray yourself and your brand).
And once the prep questions are done, this is when it gets really fun - time to get inspired! I spend some time going through Pinterest - this board and this board are both packed with ideas! I start to think about what colours, textures and overall look I want for the images.
In this particular case, putting together a winter session, especially after having just redone my website in March, I want something that pulls in a lot of those colours and tones that we chose for my new corporate identity - shades of pink, creams, greens and pops of gold. I also want the shoot to feel warm and cosy - so I'll pull in a lot of thick knits, warm chunky sweaters and darker tones.
Photographically I want a lifestyle feel to the pics - bright, light and bold.
Here are some of my inspiration images from Pinterest for this particular shoot I'm working on:
STEP THREE: BOOK A PHOTOGRAPHER
It's now the time that I start chatting to one of my fantastic RDP associate photographers (more about this program that I run, and the photographers who shoot for me under my brand here) and schedule in a time and date that works for both of us. I'm also taking into consideration that I need to book these dates in advance (giving the photographer a few weeks' heads up), and that usually there's at least two weeks after the shoot itself needed for post-production. So I'm working my timelines around that.
I also want to give the photographer as much information as possible so that we're on the same page for the photo session - I know she's not a mind reader! So I'll send through the answers to the prep questions, inspiration images, must-get pics - this is after all my brand, and I really want to have a good handle on what is going in to this shoot.
Please note that while I used one of my associates for my own personal branding shoot, they are not currently available for clients' personal branding sessions - as I know that the knowledge I have of marketing and advertising, and the years of experience I have running my own business is what is needed to bring direction to one of these shoots.
STEP FOUR: BOOK A LOCATION
I've spent some time thinking about where I want to shoot - as I'd like a wintry cosy feel, I think some shots at home would be great - on my couch, maybe tucked up in bed, or making coffee in the kitchen. My apartment has big windows, high ceilings and lots of natural light, so I know it's good for this type of shoot.
I'm also thinking we'll do some pics out and about - maybe at the Keyes Art Mile, as it has a nice urban feel, with lots of different textures and backgrounds to use for pics.
It's great to chat through potential locations with your photographer - ideally the location should match the type of profession that you do.
We do charge a fee for multiple locations booked and travel time.
STEP FIVE: BOOK A MAKE-UP ARTIST
I'm planning on using these pictures hopefully throughout winter, and if they still are aligned with my brand I'll use them again next winter and maybe even the winter after that! So that's a good few years of use I'm planning to get out of these pics - which is why I put so much prep into them, and why I think booking a make-up artist is a must! I don't want to look back at the pics and say, "oh, if only I'd been able to do my make-up a bit better."
There will be a lot of close-ups of my face, which will end up being blown up pretty big across my website and used over and over again on my social media platforms, so I'd really like it to look good!
Luckily we have a fantastic make-up artist on our team, and she's the only person I'll let touch my face, so that's easily sorted! Let us know if you'd like to book her for your session too.
More of her work here: Stavroula Georgakis.
STEP SIX: PREP YOUR WARDROBE, LOCATION AND PROPS
Ok, now I have a Pinterest board packed with ideas, and I'm ready to start putting it all together - I pull a pile of clothes out of my cupboard that all tie into the right colour hues (lots of pink sweaters and jerseys, warm scarves), and then do some shopping for a few other key items that I think will work with the shoot (if you don't have a shopping budget you can always borrow from stylish friends and family members!).
I also think about what props will work well, bearing in mind that I don't want to go overboard with props, and each thing should work well with the overall feel - so I'll be using my own laptop and iPad, camera, a few gorgeous pieces of pottery I have around the house and some notebooks. I pick up a couple of extra things from the shops that I think will work well here too.
The main thing that I think translates incredibly well on camera is LOTS of greenery - luckily my house is basically a jungle with the amount of pot plants that I already have, but I also grab a big bunch of wintry green leaves and florals to use in the pics.
I already know that I want pics of coffee cups, and other warm wintry treats, so I work that in to my prop list as well.
I make sure my house is nicely tidied and clutter free before the shoot as well, and if it was necessary I'd be getting permission from other venues to shoot there, or booking an airbnb for the shoot.
STEP SEVEN: PREP YOURSELF
This one is SO important! In the week leading up to the shoot I want to make sure that I am:
- drinking LOTS of water to flush toxins from my body and skin
- upping my exercise routines
- getting lots of sleep
- not drinking the night before the shoot
- eating healthily
- using sunscreen
- taking care of my skin, having a facial if necessary
In the day before I make sure:
- I've had my nails done
- my hair is dyed and cut in the way I like it
- I have shaved and waxed and preened as necessary
- my skin is well exfoliated
- I have layered up with coconut oil (just my body, not face!)
I'm not someone who ever gets into a tanning bed, but I would strongly recommend avoiding it before your shoot - even if you don't feel like it makes you look particularly orange in real life, cameras are much better at picking up on that orange hue, and it's a colour that is very tricky to remove in photoshop.
STEP EIGHT: FINALISE A SHOT LIST
Now I've done all that prep, and I have a really good idea of where I want to use the images, and what story/visual I want to convey, I can come up with an exact shot list, which I'll send through to the photographer a few days before the shoot:
1. hands holding coffee cups
2. hands typing on computers
3. me on the couch/in bed working
4. head shots in a variety of outfits
5. wide shots in a variety of outfits
I know that it's best to not over complicate this list, and aim to achieve a lot of different looks and feels during one session - because I'll end up stressing out both myself and the photographer, and not achieving what I want - because everything will be mixed up and confused as I try to frantically too much out of one shoot.