Personal Branding, Podcast

Why You Need to Book a Personal Branding Photoshoot This Year


You’re listening to episode 13: why you need to book a personal brand photo shoot this year. If you’ve ever been in a position where you’ve struggled to find photos to share on social media, you had to resort to using stock images on your website or you feel like you just don’t show enough of you in your head shots, and this is definitely the episode for you. Welcome to the personal branding project. I’m your host Kat Elizabeth, an actor and personal branding coach who is obsessed with helping creative entrepreneurs like you, build personal brands that change your life for good, from attracting bigger opportunities, more joy and freedom in your life and the ability to get paid to do the things that you love most. Each week I’m bringing you inspiration, practical advice, and the occasional dose of tough love so you can stop dreaming and start doing what it takes to make those dreams a reality.

Welcome back. I am so grateful you’re here listening today and I just have to say a really big thank you to everyone who has been listening from episode one. It just means so much. I really was so terrified about launching this podcast for whatever reason and once I started hearing that it is actually helping in some way and that you don’t hate it, it didn’t really help. So thank you very much. And for all the shares and the reviews it’s making up. If you haven’t left a review, I would absolutely love it if you can do that now because it just helps get the word out about the podcast cause it’s not that easy to find brand new podcasts out there in the internet and positive reviews or really make a big difference. So thank you in advance for that. So today we’re talking about personal branding photo shoots and if you do watch my YouTube channel, you know that I’m completely obsessed with these and I have talked about them before but I wanted to do a bit of a deep dive today and talk about why I believe personal branding photo shoots are so important for just about anyone.

We will go into the specifics of who I think really will benefit from these in particular and how they can really sort of change the, the look and the feel and the shape of really your business and your brand. Because I think we do like we have this thing in our heads that like yes you just need a good headshot and then you kind of set and maybe in the corporate world that is enough. But I think for anyone trying to build a personal brand, and this could mean like you’re side hustling, maybe you are in the corporate world, but you want to become a speaker and an educator and a thought leader. You have a small business, you’re the face of your business, you’re a creative or some sort of performer. Every single one of those kind of career choices where you do need to be the face of your business.

You are going to need to show more than just your little noggin in a classic kind of almost old school headshot. Now, I’m not talking about you having to get super like ego driven and have one of those Instagram but like every single photo is you posing and pretending you’re a model. That is definitely not what a personal brand photo shoot is about. It’s really just to that capturing the essence of you and giving people a bit more of an idea of your personality and what to expect from you because obviously if you’ve just got your head in a photo, there aren’t many clues about what you’re about. Whereas we personal branding shoots, you are showing more of your body. You’re probably going to be choosing some locations that also say something about you. You can have more outfit changes. You’re going to be more candid.

You can use props. I know that sounds really cheesy, but you know I’m talking within reason, whether it’s a coffee cup or you’re typing on your laptop or you know you’re holding up some clothes because you work in you know, fashion or something like that where basically painting of just a more interesting detailed picture of that, who you are and what you do. And this can make such a huge difference, especially when people find you for the first time. So I have a lot of people that actually discover me on Instagram before they go anywhere else. And I found that the feedback that I’ve been getting from people lately is that they can look at that first nine squares, maybe 12 and they immediately get an idea of what I do, my personality, like you can see my style choices, my aesthetic. And that’s really important because so often what we do is going to have some sort of connection to all of those other things.

I mean for me, I work in branding so if someone doesn’t resonate with the look and feel of my photos, then we’re probably not a good, good fit because they just don’t get me like they’re looking for something totally different. Like I tend to be, I love things that are a bit more bright and crisp and I’m not into like moody, you know like sepia tones, shadows and all of that and if they want to create a brand that is a little bit more on that side, I’m probably not the right person for them. I mean I like to think that I could help anybody, but I think there is something special about landing on someone’s account or on their website and immediately being drawn to them because of their photos. I think that is just so powerful and you’re probably going to make judgment calls based on the photos before you even read the copy, which is why you cannot be setting up your website with stock images and just one little head shot of you on the about page.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but if you are a service provider or you’re the face of your business in some way, we need more from you because as you know, the internet is just full of all of your supposed competition these days. You know, if we Google looking for anything, you’re probably gonna find a millions of results. So if you know, if you’re lucky enough or you know strategic enough to manage to put yourself on the first page, someone is probably still opening up three to five tabs with people who do something similar to you. And if your website is just like very generic full of stock images and they have a really hard time getting a gauge on the kind of person you are, then they’re probably going to choose one of the other options that do have those clues where they do feel some sort of personal connection to that, you know, service provider or whatever they’re doing.

So just to clarify on the technical aspect of what a personal brand photo shoot really is, like some people might call them lifestyle shoots as well. The real difference is that a headshot is generally just going to be your head and shoulders and you’re usually not showcasing the background. You’re not doing it like you’re looking straight to camera and probably smiling or you have a half smile or something like that. Whereas with personal brand shoots, the rules don’t really apply. So you’re going to have some shots that may feel a little bit like head shots because they are close up and you are looking at the camera. But then you can zoom right out. You could have a half buddy, you could have your whole buddy, you can be looking at the camera, you can be looking away. A lot of them are going to have way more white space in them.

And when I say white space, I mean you only take up a small percentage of the frame and you’re actually seeing a lot more of the background, whatever’s going on. And this is really important because often these photos are going to be used with text overlaid. So if you think about, you know the photos that you see in Facebook ads, you know you will often see that there’s the person on one side, you know, laughing or looking at the text and then you’ve got the text on the other side. And the same can be said for websites. So if you check out my website, you might’ve seen it before. Personal branding, project.co you’ll see that in most headers I’m using at quite a like a chunky image with tons of white space so that you can see me. But then you can see the pop of texts like the headline for the page before I go onto using other photos and I do use stock images.

I think they can look absolutely beautiful, but it’s about using them tastefully. I usually use them behind things with some sort of overlay so they’re not my head or images. They don’t mind hero images. I always try and make sure that I am in the hero image because I am my business and then I use that pretty stuck images to break it up so it doesn’t look like I’m obsessed with myself, you know, with 10 photos of me down the page, which I’m definitely not, that’s not the vibe that I want to give off. And if you’re really uncomfortable about that. So I think I already kind of mentioned where these photos are going to go, but just to give you a few extra ideas like so it’s beyond just ads and websites. I mean it’s going to be your entire social feed. You can have them in your headers, so the, Oh, sorry, the cover images, you know, for Facebook and Twitter and all of those places.

Like again, it makes such a difference having you in that header. When someone lands on your profile, you can have them in your eBooks and any sort of downloadables that you’re creating to personalize them. You might want to have them in printed brochures or postcards, you know, I mean you can have them on your business cards as well. For sure. Now I say on your business cards like this, I think people immediately think real estate agents with their cutout head on one side of the business card, like on the text side and like that is totally fine. There’s actually a backstory behind behind um, real estate agents using their photo on everything. But we won’t go into that today. Um, but I actually use mine on the other side, so the side that has all the information and my contact details is completely plain. Like it’s just text.

But on the other side I have some versions of my business card that just like my website have a photo of me, you know, like not looking at the camera, plenty of white space so that I can have my logo over the top. And I like this because it at least means that people recognize you from your Cod. They’re going to remember you. Like if they took your card and you don’t have a photo on there and they took 10 cards that day, there is a really good chance they’re going to forget which one was you. And also if you leave your card somewhere or someone gives it to somebody else and they’ve never met you, like think about how much more powerful it is for them to say, Oh, okay, so this is the person behind the card. So like the possibilities are endless.

I have personally found that the last personal branding shoot that I did, I have gotten my return on investment like many, many times over because I use the photos in so many places and I didn’t realize just how difficult I was making it for myself when I was trying to create websites in the past without enough photos of myself. Like with the only photos that I could use, kind of small and cropped, you know, basically had shots. Whereas when you’ve got photos that can be blown up that are quite large but also have that wide space, you just give yourself so much more flexibility to be creative and to create a website that really looks like you in some way, which I just think is so important because we are like people these days, I’m making their own websites a lot where you know, you see people using the same themes over and over again.

Like for instance the Divi WordPress theme is really popular. Nothing wrong with that. But if you don’t use enough images to make it look like you, like people could land on it and be like, Oh isn’t that so-and-so’s website? Cause it looks so similar because often people are using similar colors as well. The whole layout is the same. So these photos are one of the only things that if you are using kind of a templated, you know, cut out website that’s really gonna make you stand out. So hopefully by now I’ve actually convinced you that you need to organize some sort of personal branding shoot. And when it comes to finding photographer, it’s not going to be difficult, so it used to be something that was super niche, that personal brand photographers are popping up all over the place now because it’s becoming really popular like people are realizing that you actually need to do this kind of photo shoot.

(I know I have a couple of personal brand photographers that listened to the podcast, so hi guys, thanks for listening!) And to choose one you’re going to use a few different factors, so I love word of mouth recommendations. I think that’s important because you want to know that they’re a nice person and that they’re reliable and and all of that, but also it’s photography. It is an art and it’s very much about aesthetic and if you have a specific personal brand vibe aesthetic, you know a visual look, then you are going to want to make sure you find a photographer that actually can make that happen without having to change their natural style too much because you’ll find that just like we have our own flare and our own style and create, we create things. This is the same. Can be said for photographers. They’ve got, you know, some of them are only natural light, some prefer to just shoot outdoors, some love studio shots.

You know you’re going to notice that some prefer a more candid feel, some like them to be more posed. So you need to do your due diligence, have a look at their social profiles, look at their portfolio online and really see if, if you’re kind of drawn to anyone in particular and then it’s about just finding out about their packages because there’s going to be a fair bit of a variation because this is something that’s a little bit different like it’s a little bit more free to head shots like way head shots. You might only need to walk away with two edited photos. With personal branding shoots you’re going to want a lot more because you are trying to create a bit of an image library for yourself. And I found that often the personal brand packages that I’ve seen sort of start with about 50 images.

Maybe that are edited, but the photographer that I used last time in Vancouver, which is Kristine Cofsky, she has a package, which you know, at least at the time of recording this, you’ll do kind of an editorial style shoot and she’ll just give you the entire image library. But they’re unwritten changed because the whole purpose is that you’re probably going to use them on social media so you don’t need as much, you know, you don’t need them to be as pedantic when like retouching and editing them. You just need to make sure the lighting is beautiful and you know, if they’ve done their job at the beginning, you know, and actually set up the shoot nicely with the right lighting and you’ve made sure you’ve got good hair and makeup and outfits, then you shouldn’t actually need much of that kind of retouching. Like this is not a closeup that we’re going for.

So you know, her package was amazing because we just, I think we smashed through the shoot in about 60 minutes and I ended up with hundreds of photos that I could use. But it’s going to be different for everyone. You may want less and to have them retouched. So just do a bit of research and know that you know the price range will vary a little bit and a lot of photographers these days are doing something really cool, which is actually like a subscription service. So if you know that you want to get monthly shoots done, you can actually book in with them and get a better right to do, you know, a minimum of three months in a row of shoots. So like that’s going to be still a bit more of an investment. So it really depends what part of the, you know, branding and business journey are at.

But it’s just another option to keep in mind. Now I won’t go into all of the nitty gritty of planning a photo shoot because there’s a lot to it and I may even do a separate episode on this if you can let me know. So like DM me on Instagram or screenshot the episode and let me know that you want more at @iamkatelizabeth that just to give you kind of an idea of of the process. And then I’ve also got a free download for you. I have a photo shoot planner that I created because I was saying that wow, there’s a lot to planning a photo shoot and if you don’t do the prep properly you will not be happy with the results. Like it’s not something that you can leave up to chance. So feel free, check out the show notes or go to personal branding project.com/oh one three and you can download it there as well.

But basically the things you’re going to have to think about is obviously firstly finding the right photographer that is so important. But you may want to actually put together a really rough mood board in those very early stages as well so that you can communicate better with them. So if you’re getting in touch with them and they’ve got a whole bunch of different packages, you want to kind of come up with a brief where you’re like, okay, so I think I’m going to need this many photos. I need them to be able to like look good on my website and my social media and in maybe some Facebook ads. Here are the kind of looks that I want, you know, and here are the, like some of the locations I was thinking because some photographers are going to be out to organize locations for you, like maybe they have studios that they have access to for an extra fee.

Some of them might work from a studio all the time, some of them might know some great outdoor shots. So you do need to have a little bit of a think about what your goals are for the shoot before you actually get in touch with them or at least after that initial email so you can make sure they’re giving you an accurate quote. Then beyond that, there’s going to be so much more for you to do. So I personally love putting together a really detailed mood board and you can do this. I I tend to use Pinterest if I’m just planning the outfits cause I find that Pinterest has all these like really cool outfit inspirations, you know, ready to go. So I can just pin them all into a board. But the problem with Pinterest is like you can’t do the rearranging. It can be difficult to find things sometimes like cause it’s keyword based so it can be just, yeah it’s not the best option for planning the entire shoot.

I would say just maybe stick with the outfits for that one. I love Milanote, which is a relatively new app. You’re only going to need the free version to do this and they even have a mood board template that you can just click on and open up and it’s going to just show you what to do. Like they, they’re going to preload some of the information and what you’re going to do is pull in things like you want to look for. Yes. There’s going to be some outfit inspiration. I tend to screenshot photos that I’ve seen of like other influences that I follow where I just love the photo so I’m looking for poses, facial expressions, outfits that they’re wearing, the kinds of locations, whether they’re looking at the camera or not, where the white space is like where they’re placed in the in the frame.

All of that kind of stuff is so helpful but it’s important to not just grab these photos that you like. You need to really identify what it is like about them and that’s the cool thing about Milanote. Like you can pull the photo in and then you can put a note next to it saying why you like this one so much. Because ideally you’re going to end up sharing this with your photographer because it’s one thing for you to have these concepts in your head, but it’s another for them to actually know what you’re trying to achieve. You’re also going to be pulling in locations that you like the look of because sometimes you might want a specific vibe of a place. Like, for instance, I love that industrial loft kind of location or you might want a really sparkling clean kitchen or you want a really cozy couch or a bedroom or bathroom.

Like you’ve got to think about the messages that you try to send with your photos and you know you’ll be good picture brand story. Like what is the transformation that you’re trying to promise your audience and how can you kind of pull that in? Like kind of think aspirational. So like what is the ideal life that your clients want to be living that you could actually portray in this photo? So pull in all of the locations because again, when you communicating with your photographer, you never know, they might have access to some of these, but there are also websites where you can rent out spaces that are actually creative spaces. So in the past I used to just look at Airbnb, but it’s a bit of a drama because you know you have to check in in the afternoon and then check out the next morning. So it’s not great for photo shoots.

But there are websites, I found them in Canada. I’ve also found them in Australia where like creative spaces.net I believe is one of them are all linked to a couple of them in the show notes and you can actually rent spaces that are styled in particular for photo and video shoots. So they look picture perfect but they’re a lot more affordable. You can do them by the hour. Some of them can do them by the day depending on what you’re trying to achieve because occasionally, if I’m doing a photo shoot at a location, I might work in shooting some videos there too because it just looks so nice and again it’s going to pull everything in. So like if you need a new about me video or a channel trailer for your YouTube, then think about, okay can I do this all in one go and save the money on the, you know, on the actual rental of the place, but also have a much more cohesive look between my photos and my videos, which is just going to take your brand to the next level.

You can also pull in specific outfit pieces. You can put in colors, you can put in props, you can make notes and the kind of poses you need. I would be recommending thinking about all of the locations that you want to show your photos. So you know I need four website banners, which means you need tons of white space. I need, you know, my Facebook, Twitter and YouTube covers. I need Instagram posts, I need, you know, ads, I need downloadables, they all have those things. Write a list or wishlist of what you want photos for so that you can actually then take it a step further and create yourself a shortlist, which is also part of the whole photo shoot planning process and what you can download for free. And then you’re going to actually specifically go, okay, I need this many photos of me kind of in this particular, you know, you might want to pose or you might just want to say lots of white space candid, not looking at the camera and you can just need to let the photographer know that that’s what you’re trying to achieve.

So they can take tons of different shots. You might want to change outfits a couple of times and you know, make use of a really cool wall of that you’ve got so that you’ve got some photos with tons of white space, same thing. You might go, okay, I know I need a certain number of photos that are going to be on my couch. A certain number of photos where it looks like I’m working. Some of them where I’ve like my morning routine. Again, these all comes down to your own brand and the kind of stories you’re trying to tell through these photos, but the more detail that you go into, the better on the day. There’s always going to be an element of just having fun experimenting and throwing some of it out the window. But if you’ve got that list and you know there’s some crucial photos that you need to get, then you’ve got that list.

You don’t have to worry about forgetting something and getting to the end of the shuttle. You know, having her, your photographer send the the library of photos and being like, Oh my gosh, I missed the main one, you know, brutal. After all that money and all that time, you don’t want to go and pay for another shoot just to get that one photo. So really put some effort in here. And then another element is just actually pulling together all of the outfits you’re going to need right down to every accessory and whether you’re going to have any props that go with them, what the shoes are and probably thinking about whether you need to change your hair and makeup at all during those as well. So you’re going to try and order them in a way that, like for me, I like to start with the most natural ones first and if I need to add any makeup or put my pull my hair up, then I’m doing that later on.

So my hair, my makeup stayed as natural as possible at the beginning of the shoot. I know this is all sounding a little bit complicated and technical, but it’s just one of those things like, and I think that’s why I created the the plan a few as well because if you do have that guideline, it’s like yes, it’s a bit of work upfront, but it’s so much better than being stressed, showing up the shoot and having no idea what you’re doing. And that can be frustrating for the photographer as well because as much as they are there to encourage you and try and get the best out of you, they can’t do it for you. They don’t have the vision in their head like that is up to you to bring to them and they will help you bring it to life. So you do need to take responsibility here and just think, look, this is a pretty big investment.

Like you’re going to be paying a bit of money to make this happen. It is going to be a bit of time. So do the pre-work so that on the day you can actually enjoy yourself and get right into it and not be going, Oh crap. Oh, I don’t even know, is this enough? Should I be, should I have brought this extra outfit? Should I change now? Like the whole thing is going to be planned and it’s going to be way more enjoyable. So I guess my number one recommendation now is that if you are kind of like, okay, this all sounds really good, but like where do I even start? Stop by just looking at other people’s accounts, especially on Instagram because it’s such a, you know, image friendly platform and start saving, saving them to a collection. Like I literally have one folder or one collection, whatever you call it, I should know.

…Where anytime I see a really awesome lifestyle or personal brand type image from someone that I follow, I just save it so that, you know, cause even if I’m not planning a shoot right now, which I’m not, I know that when I do go to plan the shoot, I’ve already found so many images as you know, I can go and top up that collection if I want to, but it’s not going to take nearly as long because they kind of popping up organically like so just make sure you’re following some people that do great images that you really resonate with you. Like it’s got to kind of resonate with your personality. You know, some people tend to get way more done up and use like locations that seem a little bit more contrived whereas other people just like to do them in like their own home and they seem to look so relaxed and happy.

So just naturally, you know, start saving the ones that you really love. And again, when you get to the time when you’re ready for a photo shoot, it’s going to be more fun and enjoyable because the juices have been flowing for so long. You’ve got this amazing folder full of inspiration and as long as you can kind of break it down and go, why do I like these photos so much, then it’s going to be so easy for you to fill out the photo shoot planner and get the ball rolling on your own photo shoot. So I really hope that that was helpful and hope that if you either have never done a personal branding shoot, you’re now starting to feel a little bit more excited and prepared about what you actually need to do. And if you’ve done one in the past and you weren’t super happy with it, maybe you will have identified why.

Like maybe you hadn’t done quite enough prep, you hadn’t communicated as well as you should have with the photographer. Maybe you were just lacking confidence. But either way, I really want you to make sure that if you are the face of your business that this year at some stage you do a personal branding shoot because it is really going to be transformational and it’s just one of those things that you can’t just do one and never do it again cause we’re always changing. Like our vibe is changing our style preferences. You know our audience might be changing slightly that what we’re offering our business. Like you’ve got to make sure that the photos are an accurate representation of who you are now and what you do now. So take a look at your own photos and maybe call yourself on, you know, whether some of them are looking a little bit of out-of-date and not like you anymore.

And maybe just set a date, set a goal for yourself. Cause obviously like you know there is a bit of an investment involved so you might need to do a little bit of saving for it and that’s fine. So maybe the goal is just to do it by mid, you know, mid next year, like maybe in six months time from the time of listening to this. So maybe it’s three months, but either way, set the goals, start doing some of the prep now set aside the money and enjoy this. Like treat yourself with this cause, I mean it is a business expense so it’s totally a tax write off, which is awesome. But it also feels so good to do this. Like it’s really good for your self confidence and, and to actually see yourself in your best life because often, especially if you’re someone that works from home like me, like you spend half your time working in your pyjamas with greasy hair and it can really affect your self confidence.

So it’s a really nice thing to be able to actually do yourself up for the day. Go do the shoot and then have like these memories and have these photos where you’re like, yeah, damn I look good. So I’d love to hear how you go. If you are planning a shoot, let me know. As I said, tag me on Instagram, please, if you haven’t already, I would love it if you could leave a five star review so that we can get the word out about the podcast. And I just really thank you for being here and listening and I look forward to chatting with you on the next one. Bye for now.


Kat is a copywriter, brand & messaging strategist personal branding coach and the founder of The Personal Branding Project whose mission is to help you go from best-kept secret to in-demand brand.


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