I spent the weekend trying on outfits from my closet for my upcoming brand photo shoot, and then ordering more, just to nail the right look. And after trying on what felt like a hundred outfits, my bed and floor of my closet were a complete mess, and my head was spinning. Somehow, I was more confused after trying everything on. I kept thinking, "Ok, I'm supposed to be the expert on this, so why is this so difficult? I mean, I should have this process down, right?" Nope. At the very least, it means that I'm only human.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't stressing out about my brand photo shoot. In fact, I'm as much as a stress ball as my clients are when they come to me for help in styling their photo shoot outfits. Somehow, helping them discover their best looks is easy. But when it comes to me, it somehow seems impossible! And I know why, because I want to knock this photo shoot out of the park. I want the photos to completely represent me and my brand. Essentially, the perfectionist in me is taking over - getting in my way.
So, as I sat wading in a sea of my clothes over the weekend, more frustrated and clueless than when I started, I decided to take a break and clear my head. Get my mind off of the matter and move on to something else.
Later that day, I revisited the photos I had taken of the outfits (highly recommended by the way! Not only for your reference, but also for your stylist and photographer's reference!), and tried to take a more objective approach. I started asking myself a series of questions to keep me grounded. And I want to share those with you - as you may find yourself in the exact same predicament, completely swirling in your own thoughts!
5 Questions to Ask Before Your Brand Photo Shoot to Keep You Grounded
#1 What is my personal style?
If you don't already have a keen awareness of what your personal style is, I highly suggest you do it now. Why? Well, because knowing your personal style is the ultimate outward expression of who you are on the inside. And when you can name that with clarity, it's going to drive your decision about which outfits to choose, and it will show through in your photos. Remember what I always say:
"Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak."
(Thanks to Rachel Zoe for that golden piece of wisdom!)
My personal style words are Bold, Feminine and Classic. The thing about style words is they have to all work together. Standing alone, these words don't resonate with me. For example, only describing my style as "feminine" feels all wrong. It feels too soft and flowy, where as I want some edge and creativity mixed in there. Hence, the word: BOLD. And as for Classic, well, I can't help but love anything that's tailored and structured and a nod to the classics. So there you have it. My three style words that feel so uniquely me.
Ideally, the outfits I pick for my photo shoot are going to marry these three words all in one. If you're reading this thinking, "I have no clue what my personal style is?" or "I've never thought about how I might describe my style." then this is a good time to get thinking on it. If you want help nailing it down, I offer a service called Your Style Brand Intensive which uncovers in a 2-hour virtual session not only a style that's unique to you, but also what keeps you from owning that style.
Once you define these three words for yourself, be sure to share them with your stylist and photographer!
#2 What 3-4 colors will best reflect my personal style and my personal brand?
When doing a brand photo shoot, thinking about the colors you want to incorporate is really important. The reason being that your photos are going to be used on your website, your marketing, your social feeds, and everywhere else your brand appears, so it's nice to make sure that what you wear is going to work with the color scheme you have going on. Trust me, your designers and content creators will thank you!
That said - this doesn't mean you HAVE to wear your brand colors. Your brand colors may not be your best colors, anyway. Just think about how those colors are going to work with what you're wearing. I like to pick out 3-4 colors that I want to wear, that are colors that work well with my skin tone + also work with my brand. It may be smart to give your photographer your brand colors so he or she knows what they're working with. They may have creative ways to incorporate those colors into your shoot! For example, in a backdrop or having those colors appear in the locations you choose.
With all the clients that hire me for photo shoot styling, in addition to nailing down their personal style, we also get their colors done professionally to make this process of selecting colors much easier. Learn more about my photo shoot styling services here.
#3 What words and feelings do I want to communicate through these images?
Thank you to my photographer, Dana Gaydon, for providing this incredibly clarifying question! This one may be my favorite, because it allowed me to incorporate not only personal traits I want to come through (as I am the face and sole employee of my business!) as well as brand traits that represent what my business is all about. My outfit - as well as the poses I choose with my photographer - have to reflect these words and feelings. It all works together! The word, "playful," for example, may come out as an aspect of my outfit, or a pose that choose during the shoot. And "creative" is definitely reflective of what I wear - as well as the creativity of the shot or location that is chosen. Trust me, if my photographer is asking me this question, your photographer is going to want to know, as well! As is your stylist!
#4 How am I going to use the photos?
While it may seem obvious, this question was actually quite helpful for me in determining my outfits. I know, for example, that I will need headshots that can be used as a speaker bio, or anywhere else I need a headshot (my social profile, for example). And while I want my headshots to look professional, I also want to convey the words I shared in my last questions, so I won't likely be going the traditional route in terms of what I wear. (Traditional, meaning, a business suit)
In addition, I will need these photos for my website, so I want to think about the vibe I'm going for there. Do I want to be buttoned up and serious, or do I want a playful and creative aspect to come across. Are there sections of your website where you want to communicate a service or product with your image? For example, I offer color consultations, so my photographer and I are talking about shots with me holding a color wheel or my color card. Or, since part of my client style profile is taking body measurements, maybe I'll be holding a garment tape measure. Because my services are all virtual, I'll want shots with me holding my phone or working on a computer.
I'll also be using these photos in my social feed, so I started to think about common mantras and sayings I repeat time and again, including:
"Wear what you love."
" Confidence is the best outfit. Rock it and own it."
"The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you."
"Your closet should be like a party, where only your favorite people are invited."
"Be who you are, not who the world wants you to be."
#5 What will I feel my best in?
I always say that the camera can spot confidence - or lack there of! The camera will love you, when YOU love you. At the end of the day, don't forget to use your gut in this decision. What outfit do you fest best in? What makes you feel most like yourself? What colors give you a mood boost? What outfits are the most comfortable and don't need to be fussed with? What outfit gives you some good energy? Remember...
"Confidence is the best outfit, so rock it and own it!"
Let the answers to these questions be your final say in what you wear. And when in doubt, bring an extra outfit. Most brand photo shoots include 3-4 outfits, but there's no reason why you can't bring a back-up outfit in case something isn't working with one of your main outfits.
As for me, well, I'm still deciding on my outfits and working through these very questions, but you can rest assured you'll be the first to know what they are! Follow along on my Instagram page to keep up to date on the brand photo shoot process!
Hi, I'm so glad you're here! I'm a Personal Virtual Stylist and owner of Style Decoded. I'm a Midwest born fashion lover on a mission to help women show up with more authenticity and alignment at work and in their businesses through their style, and feel 100% confident in their own skin every day. Styling is my passion but it hasn't always been my job. I spent 20 years of my career in client service, advertising, developing brands, blogging, podcasting, and creating marketing and social social strategies for my clients, ranging from Fortune 500 giants to individuals building their personal brand online. To say I know a thing or two about marketing and client service is an understatement! Now, I love teaching women how to define and own their unique personal brand through style.
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