How to prep for a brand photoshoot • Dare to Grow

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How to prep for a brand photoshoot

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Your support system for bold, brave business moves - lead by me (Sarah), your new business BFF. Hang out with us @daretogrow.co and on The Dare to Grow Show.
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Having brand photos done will take your branding to the next level, and it also has the ability to make you feel hella confident about yourself and your business. Check out my top tips for prepping for a brand photoshoot at xosarah.com.

If you haven’t heard the news already, then you should be following me on Instagram ;) because last week I was finally able to announce the big secret project we’ve been working on for the past couple of months. And it is…a rebrand! 

Next month marks my 10-year anniversary in business, of leaving my corporate job, and of XO Sarah. Over the past 6 months or so I’ve started feeling like it was time to shift and when the trademark I applied for was approved I knew it was time. Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to be rebranding as Dare to Grow!

Which means I’m in the process of building out an entirely new website and part of that process is taking new photos. I had my brand photoshoot last week and when I asked on Stories what questions you had, the answer was everything. Where to start, how to find a photographer, planning, outfits, locations. All of it. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Too long, didn’t listen…

If you have never gotten brand photos I cannot recommend it enough. Not only does it take your branding to the next level instead of using stock photos, but it also has the ability to make you feel hella confident about yourself and your business.

Now let me say –  

The fact that I was a circus performer for almost 10 years makes me a lot more comfortable in front of the camera and makes photoshoots easier for me. And the fact that I’ve taken 5 million selfies and been on video every week for most of that 10 years. And also the fact that I’m young, thin, and conventionally attractive makes it easier for me to feel confident having my photo taken because I’ve seen myself in every ad, magazine, and red carpet ever. 

So, I want to say – don’t let the fact that it might be easier for me stop you from getting photos. You deserve to have cute photos of yourself (or badass photos, or hot, or whatever your vibe is) You deserve to feel confident about your brand and yourself. I don’t need to be your example. Find someone who looks like you and has great photos and follow their lead.

Don’t hold yourself back just because it looks easier for me – I’ve got a lot of practice and privilege over here.

Where to start

First, you need to know what you want your photos to look like, so hop on Pinterest or Instagram and save photos for outfits, poses, and photos that have the overall vibe of what you want. I’m a nerd so I make 3 different folders.

If you’re not sure what you want, just save everything you like, and then you can look for patterns – similar outfits or accessories or backgrounds. 

You can also look for hashtags like #brandphotoshoot on Instagram for more ideas, or creep through everyone I follow on Instagram because there are lots of cuties with brand photos over there.

Second, what do you need photos for? Headshots to send when you do podcast interviews, content for Instagram, photos for your website. 

For this photoshoot, I was looking mainly for website photos and so I sent my photographer my Instagram so she could see our branding. I also sent a link to the website template I was planning to use so she could see how and where the photos would fit.

If you need a huge horizontal photo for the top of your website or photos where you’ll be removing the background or pointing at the text on the screen your photographer should know that so you don’t end up with a ton of photos you can’t use.

Finding a photographer

Once you know what vibe you’re going for, you can start searching for a photographer that can help you create something similar.

I found both my photographers on Yelp, but you can also google things like “brand photographer” and your city. Or you can creep on other entrepreneurs in your area (try looking on Instagram for hashtags like #sandiegobusiness) Find someone who has photos you love and send them a DM and ask who took them. Or, ask your friend who always has the cutest family photos.

When choosing a photographer, pay attention to what types of photos they specialize in. I’m in San Diego so there are a ton of photographers who do beach photos and family photos, but I knew I wanted to take photos in my apartment and I’m more on the alternative side so “happy beautiful family” isn’t my vibe. I actually wrote down “Cozy, punk, HBIC, in paradise” for my vibe, so you will have to tell me if we nailed it when the new site goes up.

Once you find your photographer you’ll probably need to choose a package on their site. Here in San Diego, I’ve paid around $500 for a 60-minute shoot that gets me 30-40 edited images. Rates might be different in your city, but an hour-long shoot should get you enough images for your website and social media.

I know one of my past clients joined or created a group that meets on a monthly (or quarterly, maybe) basis with the same photographer so they always have new images. 

That’s another option if $500 isn’t in your budget yet. I will say if you’re thinking about it, it is a really good investment to give your business a level up. And honestly, when your marketing and photos look better it’s a lot easier to show up and want to send people to your website, which I know is holding some of you back. Just saying!

Outfits

Like I said at the beginning – you want to start with some photos and inspiration for how you want to look. You can literally replicate any outfit. If a celeb wore it they probably had a stylist so you can be pretty confident that you’ll look cute.

When I was choosing outfits for this shoot I wanted it to be realistic to what I actually wear because I’m known for not sugar-coating things or trying to be the perfect Instagrammer. I’m at home all day, on my couch, under a blanket, with my dog, wearing leopard print. As I’m writing this episode that’s literally what’s happening – actually, it’s tiger print today. I wanted to make sure to show realistic parts of my day if I’m going to ask you to listen to me and take my advice. I’m not standing in front of crowds or posing in a studio. Maybe that will be my vibe someday, but right now I’m running my business with cozy, introvert vibes and so that’s what you’re going to see in my photos.

Now – just because I’m going all authentic, doesn’t mean you have to. If you want to look like an alien princess or a trillionaire CEO when you’re working from the corner of your basement – DO IT! You do you. The more you can show what makes you different from your competitors, the better.

BossBabe is a good example of a company that is similar to Dare to Grow in what we teach and our offers, but our branding is completely opposite. They’re all pretty pink and serif lettering and trendy neutral-colored outfits. I’m all lime green and block letters and leopard print and band tees, which means we’re going to attract different people without saying a word. 

Think about who you want to attract and how you want them to feel in your online space.

Now the practical stuff:

First – pull out everything that makes you feel cute. Clothes, shoes, accessories. Using your outfit inspiration from Instagram or Pinterest, put together some outfits and take test photos. Not just in front of a blank wall (unless that’s where your photos will be). I took test photos on my couch and at my desk to make sure everything went with my throw pillows and art. I’ve totally felt cute in my outfit and then took a photo and realized it wasn’t gonna work. Or the shoes I really wanted to wear looked weird with the pants I picked. Try your outfits on, take test photos, and you can even send them to your photographer (not your mom who always has all the opinions). Send them to the person whose job it is to make you look like 20 fire emojis and get feedback from them.

Locations

Lastly, you gotta figure out locations. Now, the last three times I had photos taken I let my photographer decide because I didn’t really know where to go. We did them outside around downtown San Diego, which turned out great. However, y’all know that I’m a total introvert and homebody. This time I wanted to do photos inside my apartment because that is where I work all day. Also, I put a lot of effort into making this place look cute.

You can totally let your photographer pick locations, they will likely already have some spots they prefer to shoot. When I had photos taken with my family last summer, the photographer met us at a park and knew the exact spots with the best background and how we should pose and it was very efficient. With nine people that is not always easy. If you liked their portfolio, then trust your photographer to make you look good.

For my photos, we did a series that included cozy sweatpants working on the couch with Hazel, photos of me looking like a boss at my desk, photos of me working outside, and then photos of me looking like a rockstar in my cutest outfit.

If you want inside photos but your house isn’t feeling cute or it’s too filled with people to have a photoshoot there, rent an Airbnb, coworking space, or a studio, or ask your friend with a cute house if you can borrow it for an hour.

Props

What do you use in your business? Obviously, if you’re a yoga instructor or teach pottery classes your props are a little more obvious, but for a business niche, it’s not as obvious. 

My props included my phone, laptop, iPad, ring light + tripod, a journal, and podcast mic.

Also, think about what you’re known for. You all know that I have a Carol Baskin sized obsession with animal prints, so I made sure to wear my pink tiger pants, my leopard vans, and leopard earrings so there was a hint of animal print in every photo. 

I’m also a total dog mom, so Hazel hung out while we did photos in the apartment and was in and out of the photos as she is anytime I’m creating video or doing calls. If you’re on a coaching call with me there’s a good chance you’re going to hear or see Hazel, so I wanted her to be in my photos as well. Of course, make sure to check with your photog to make sure they’re cool with that.

Day of

Don’t plan other shit. I somehow booked a workshop on the same day, but since I’ve done many a workshop and many a photoshoot I knew I could handle them both. If it’s your first brand shoot – give yourself the whole day. Kick the kids out early and send the dog to daycare so you can take the time to get ready at your own pace.

Lay out your outfits with jewelry, shoes, undergarments, and even makeup if you’re going to switch lipsticks or something. I had 4 outfit changes so I made 4 piles on my dresser to make changes quick.

I also started with the least amount of makeup for the sitting on the couch in PJs photos and then added different lipstick for each outfit. Fake eyelashes make a huge difference especially if you’re not into a lot of eye makeup. Get your brows waxed and buy yourself some lashes. I use Ardell lashes plus DUO glue (the clear paint on kind). Used it for all my circus shows. Lashes are not usually easy to put on, but Ardell are easier.

Lay out all your props in one spot and let your photographer know what you want to use where. I totally didn’t do this and forgot to take photos with my podcast mic…so I suppose I’ll just need to book another shoot.

If you need specific shots, make a list – what you’ll wear, where to pose, what the photo is for (your about page, headshot, podcast graphic). If you need to make a spreadsheet or a PowerPoint – do it. You will make better use of your time if you know exactly what you want and/or let your photographer take the lead. That’s okay too.

Then when it’s time to go – do your best to relax. Need a glass of wine? Your High Vibe playlist? Your BFF cheering you on? 

You can totally have friends come support. Then you can feel more like you’re hanging out and having fun and less like you’re awkwardly posing for a stranger. They could even be in your photos.

My face always forgets how to smile for the first couple of photos – every damn time. Try to get comfy and have fun and think about how you want to feel sharing your website or posting on Instagram and how you want your audience to feel when they see that stuff.

Alright – I hope that’s got you feeling excited and more confident about booking a photoshoot of your own. If you have more questions feel free to shoot me a DM on Instagram. I definitely want to see your photos – so tag me on IG so I can give you a high five. If you’re interested in seeing my new photos, the new site will be live on May 10!

Thanks for hanging out with me – talk to you again next week!

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