How to Plan a Personal Branding Photoshoot in London

24 January 2024

It’s the done thing to have decent brand photography these days but, when you’re the slightest bit unsure, where do you even begin to plan a personal branding photoshoot in London?

Let’s take you from searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack to some clear advice on planning your next photo session. This is for you whether it’s your first time being photographed or you know now that second time around, you need more clarity. 

I’m going to break down in five stages how to get unstuck, what questions you need to answer in advance and give you surprising wardrobe tips. Plan to shoot the headshots, pick your locations and what clothes to bring on the day. Here comes the spoiler – you will need more than just one good headshot. 

Placing photos in order - how to plan a personal branding photoshoot in London title photo

What is a Branding Photoshoot?

Put simply, a branding photoshoot is a few hours with you and your team so you can illustrate who you are, what you do behind the scenes, what it looks like to work with you and where, or why you serve your clients. A branding shoot gives you content to share with your existing and potential clients, service users or followers that shows the passion, painstaking commitment and purpose behind what you do.

Why do you really need all this? Your clients know what you do and they’re buying your services, not you, after all. Whilst this is technically true, many marketing experts will tell you that people who buy from individuals or small businesses want to know they can trust you. Even before they buy from you, they begin building an (imaginary) relationship with you. Yet, if you don’t have anything to show for who you are, why people should trust your expertise or that you truly are a real person and put in the hours – how can they begin to trust you? This is why it’s so important to plan a personal branding photoshoot for your project in London, and plan it well.

A good branding shoot is an ever more necessary tool in your marketing arsenal if your organisation or brand is to grow. It will give you the content you need for every piece of promotional material you produce, from marketing campaigns and web or blog content to gallery images, social posts, freebies, e-books and business cards.

For any sole trader, freelancer or small business founded on purposeful values, your brand is really a reflection of you. To quote the cliché, if a picture tells a thousand words, do your images tell a stranger your brand story? Establishing your brand personality and how it should feel to your audience is key.

How Can You Establish Your Brand Story? 

If I’m honest, the moment anyone mentions ‘story’ to me, my mind goes blank. I love writing, I even used to write short stories in my spare time when I was younger. My photography intuitively tells stories. But mention ‘brand story’ and my brain freezes up. If you’re drawing a blank here too, think of this as: 

  • the values your business aspires to, or 
  • the things you want to be known for. 

If a client were to describe you / your personal brand to a friend, what words would they use? For example might you be progressive, approachable, expert, great fun, traditional, revolutionary?

Megaphone with flower petals shouting message

What Does Your Brand Look Like?

Now let’s take things further. Set the tone. This is more about how you make your client feel. Answer these questions: 

  •  How do you want to come across? (Warm and friendly? Challenging and confident?)
  • What do your clients feel when they receive services or buy from you? 

The overall imagery should reflect those feelings. With these questions answered, you’re planning the tone for your personal branding photoshoot. A vision is so important – without one you just have a disparate set of images. 

If this section still leaves you slightly fearful, have a look at the 12 brand archetypes and consider which one fits your profile. Don’t let planning your shoot get in the way of taking action – part of the work of photographing your small London business is planning this together. Contact me if you’d like to discuss your needs.

free personal branding shoot planner preview image

Looking for Personal Brand Photoshoot Ideas?

Coming up with a message or theme can help you to get clear on what you want to show in your personal branding photoshoot, so here’s a few ideas to help you begin.

Problem & Solution

Centering on the solution you offer illustrates your services clearly. Recreating a situation where your client say, feels continually lost, but your leadership coaching helps them find their way is one example. Seeing your services in action is a more trustworthy way of showing your services. We’ll see below how you can blend in your personal style and add creativity. 

Transformation (Before and after)

Show off the transformation your business or personality offers. Not confined to those make-over shots of before/ after cosmetic transformations, your service offers up change in ways that might not feel tangible. Showing this in a photoshoot – physically or metaphorically will help to involve your clients’ imagination and really perceive that change.  

Personality or Value Focussed

Capturing yourself doing what you do best, expressing your values are great for showing the personal message behind the brand. Other ideas for your personal brand shoot include showcasing your personal interests, as a way to connect with your audience. And simply focussing candidly on the day-to-day scenes of you delivering your work helps to engage users in what you offer. 

female business owner in london in client meeting for makeup artist business

Seasonal or Themed Shoots

Seasonal shoots, to state the obvious, get you ready ahead of Christmas, but there are so many occasions you might schedule in your calendar. Summer holidays, wellness weeks, competitions, elections or celebrations.

Charity campaigns:

Women’s organisations always campaign heavily around International Women’s Day and the 12 days of activism around the 25th November (UN Day to eliminate violence against women). Designing the content, theme and messaging ahead of these days makes their campaigns easy to execute once the shoot is ready.

Calendar Campaigns: 

So many businesses (florists I’m looking at you) do great business around Mother’s Day and Valentine’s, but these occasions can creep up on you if you’re not careful – it’s important to get ahead of yourself and plan for them. 

Whilst you’re planning, take advantage of the additional content to be gained from designing a shoot around an occasion. Gift vouchers added into a floral shot can be used any time in the year. Spring flowers can be a seasonal image before and after Mother’s Day.

Branding Photoshoot Outfits – Some Advice

London is a beautiful backdrop for a photoshoot, but let’s face it, it’s also a very grey city. Follow these tips for how to plan a personal branding photoshoot wardrobe in London, be it outdoors or behind doors.

Frances Carlisle London branding photographer on Millenium Bridge, central /South London

Colour & Pattern Do’s and Don’ts

Avoid wearing anything too patterned, logos (unless they’re your own business logo) so that the eye is drawn to your face, not your body.

Also avoid blacks and whites unless they are your uniform or add texture to the outfit. I am not a fan of neutrals unless that is your overall brand aesthetic. 

Adding colour will make you stand out in the image. Extra points if you can dress in your brand colours. 

Stay within your Brand Aesthetic

Keep in fitting with the aesthetic of your brand image. A high end yoga instructor might dress in a well known brand of yoga gear; a youthful casual look would be better suited to more casual dress, whilst a leadership position needs a more serious and attention-commanding outfit. In no way should any of those feel the need to compromise on style – don’t feel you need to fit in to a cookie-cutter ideal of your profession.

woman political candidate working behind the scenes taking notes on campaign trail, wearing red blazer near red London post box

Do You Have a Work Uniform?

If you have a work uniform, this would be the time to use it – not entirely exclusively though. As a wedding photographer it’s important to show clients how you dress to blend in behind the scenes on your client’s wedding day, but that doesn’t mean to say you can’t also showcase your personality in other photos. 

Make Sure What Your Wear to Your Branding Photoshoot Compliments You

Dress in colours, shapes and lengths to suit your skin tone, body shape and personality. Be comfortable in your clothes, without feeling like you need to conform.

Props

Props can be so useful in a your own business photoshoot, as long as you keep them relevant to your area of work. Adding a coffee cup to a shot is an easy way to fit into most people’s lifestyle, relaxes things a little but in the end it doesn’t say much. What you do comes naturally to you, but your work, the details, tools or ingredients are not necessarily obvious to your users. 

Tools of the Trade

A photographer might add a camera in hand to a lifestyle shoot. I might set out my kit bag and show my favourite lens, or how I put on my harness. A make-up artist I shot for has a print-out of a face for her make-up lessons. She has a beautiful bible of hair styles. On top of this, her kit consisted of literally hundreds of brushes. I have exactly two. So this showed me and therefore her potential clients just how much artistry and study goes into her work. 

detail of make up artist holding 'Timeless' hairstyle book for personal branding photoshoot

What if your Tools are Invisible?

What if your tools are all in your hands, head or heart? A politician might be known for posturing, but how much background work do you think MPs and councillors do? That’s why it’s so important to show the note-taking, casework and talking to local constituents in their personal brand photography.

Hobbies & Interests

People are curious, and their curiosity piques when they see something they chime with. Equally, your interests are interesting to them. If you’re a bookworm, a nutrition fanatic or an ardent traveller and they are too, those things will resonate.

london rowing club lifestyle and personal brand photography location

Brand Photoshoot Locations

Even in a city as big as London your locations add context to your brand and persona on a photoshoot. Showing your locality, your venue or you behind the scenes is key to planning a great brand photoshoot. 

London Based Photoshoot Locations 

Iconic London is great as a background for showing a London wide view or situating a national brand in the city. Still, you can also move from central London to regional (South East, for example, my base) or further still if you’re trying to appeal to people in your own neighbourhood. It’s a great way for them to instantly recognise you working in their area.

Your Workplace as a Location 

Where you work is a good eye into your potential clients being able to imagine you in your day to day work. While that might seem boring to you, again it’s vital for your followers to see you in their own mind and turning that into something tangible. Whether you have a physical location such as a restaurant, or you work from locations or your own home, these places help you ground yourself in reality. A workplace that you want people to visit is obvious and something that needs to be seen and shown off in it’s glory; but you also want to let your clients in – prepare to either be photographed working on location or to set this up. Again, think about your props here too. 

Wellness Health Coach of Wellness with Gaby chopping kale for smoothie in bright white colourful kitchen by Frances Carlisle portrait photographer London for small businesses

Places of Interest/ Influence / Inspiration

Don’t be afraid to show what inspires you or influences your work. Your expert knowledge is interesting to your supporters – so include it in your personal branding photoshoot. Supporters being a key word here – these are the people who are interested in you and what makes you tick. Knowing your area of expertise well is something to show off, not hide away from. Your clients (being likely novices) want to buy from someone they see as passionate about the topic. 

Hiring a Venue for your Personal Branding Photoshoot

If there is nowhere photogenic enough to use for your branding shoot, it’s time to hire a venue. Build this into your budget and discuss it beforehand. Just make sure whichever location you choose fits, or can be styled to fit, your brand aesthetic.

But First – Tidy Up!

Lastly a kindly word of advice! Take time to tidy and clean whatever workspace or location you’re using before shoot day. It takes time to set up each shot and you don’t want to spend that time tidying and cleaning.

Learn How to Plan a Personal Branding Photoshoot in London with Ease

You’re off to a great start! Set the tone with how your clients need to feel. Then hone in on what you need to show. The actual services you want to illustrate, events to boast about and conversations you want to start. The locations, props and outfits can then be ticked off as easy as 1, 2, 3. 

If you’re eager for more, download my free personal branding photoshoot planner for a complete checklist of the style, props, locations to plan out. You’ll have your plan set before you’ve even booked your shoot. 

free personal branding shoot planner previews for download guide

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Meet Frances, London Lifestyle & Portrait Photographer

meet Spirited photography

Hello! I'm Frances, founder of Spirited Branding and Portrait Photography, London. I'm here to offer you inspiring portraits using my tried and tested tools to challenge camera shyness, alongside curated branding imagery that will up-level your brand. Spirited works mostly with change-makers, ethical businesses and creatives.

I invite you look over my headshot and portrait photography or branding photography services, and would love to help you with your next branding shoot!

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