When it comes time for you to hit ‘refresh’ on your brand, or even if you are just starting your service-based business, photos are one of the most important pieces of the project. Just like the visual appearance and user experience of your website, your photos have a lasting effect on the connection you make with visitors and their initial impressions of you. And, this honestly has much less to do with what you look like and more about the energy of the photos and what you’re doing in them.

Before you hire a professional photographer, there are a few helpful things to keep in mind that will ensure a fun and successful day.

Here are our top ten tips for achieving the best photos for your brand:

1| These are not glamour shots.

Sometimes there can be hesitation around having professional photos taken because the focus is on you… and that means you must accept yourself just as you are. Right now. Not after the ten pounds you’re trying to lose. Not after you’ve gained a little more self-confidence. But right now. Just as you imperfectly are.

Remember those Glamour Shots studios that popped up in shopping malls all around the country throughout the 90s? They would dress you up and completely over-do your makeup and then produce these very air-brushed-looking headshots. These are not the types of photos that you want to have for your brand. Yes, makeup and wardrobe choice is very important, but it’s so much more about capturing who you truly are. I even recommend no re-touching on client photos. If you have a good photographer, you shouldn’t need your photos to be processed. Don’t you want to show your clients the real you? This gets into a little bit of self-reflection and self-development work, AND it is so important to get to this point of self-acceptance and love before you dive into getting your photos taken. Of course touch-ups are okay but over processed photos are a big red flag to potential clients and give off an inauthentic vibe.

2| Plan your outfits around your brand

If your brand were a person, how would she dress? Who is your style icon? Embody THOSE feelings and style. Take cues from your style icon and curate several outfits that fit her style and also make you feel really great about yourself. And don’t forget about color. Dress in your brand colors – but also keep in mind which colors you look best in. Your photographer can give you tips on what not to wear… like busy patterns or too many colors. If you need help in this area, check out our fun and insightful Your Brand Style Quiz here.

Confidence is key during your photoshoot. Having your photos taken will likely will feel awkward at first, so if you can wear something that makes you feel like a million bucks when you’re wearing it – that is ideal.

3| Choose a location that makes sense for you and your audience

The point of your photos is to shine a little light on who you truly are and how you want your clients to feel. Sometimes it’s tempting to choose a location that feels luxurious and high-end. Or, beachy and more relaxed. Either of those could be the perfect option for you. The important thing to remember here is that YOU feel totally at home in the space, it exudes your style, and matches the vibe that your clients connect with.

It also is important to consider the work that you do. What settings make the most sense to convey what you are all about – and why you do what you do?

4| Be sure you think outside of yourself

Your photos don’t ALL have to be photos of you. And they honestly shouldn’t be. Think about how you serve people. If you offer consulting or coaching services, it might be great to include some photos of you engaging with a ‘client’. Do you have a team? Perhaps you could capture all of you in a meeting or working/collaborating together. How about you personally – do you have a pet you adore? Include some pics with your pooch 😉 Of course be sure to clear these things with your photographer first.

5| Capture the little things

I always recommend that you make a mental list of items that you use every day in your business, and items that might be important to the work that you do. Crystals, specific books, your computer… even things that are personally meaningful to you are great photos to have on hand for use on social media or your website. The real deal is always better than stock imagery. Which brings me to number six…

6| Think about how you will use these photos

These images will not only be used on your new website and/or sales pages, but they will also be key for social media as well. This is where the images that are not necessarily of you will be helpful. This also may spark ideas on what types of things you should be doing in your photos. Perhaps you’ll want a specific type of photo to promote something that is coming soon, or something similar. Try to think about how you’ll use these photos outside of your website.

7| Choose a photographer who gets your vision

If you’ve never taken professional photos before, it’s safe to say you’ll likely feel a little awkward at first. It’s totally luxurious and fun to be on a photoshoot – and it also can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. You’re being asked to smile, laugh and look natural on-demand, in a staged space. This is where your photographer can really help! You want to make sure that you choose someone who you connect and feel comfortable with. She also should understand what you do and what your intentions for the shoot are. She needs to know what you want to achieve, and you have to feel confident she gets your vision. Pick someone you connect with and adore their work.

8| Enlist your designer

Before you have your photoshoot, be sure to talk with your website designer. He or she may have certain photo ideas they would like to incorporate that you may not have thought of. Your designer should be able to help guide the creative needs of the shoot – but ultimately, you need to trust the expertise of your photographer.

For our branding clients, we provide a very detailed photoshoot direction. We also connect with the photographer on this. Especially if I can’t be onsite for the shoot, I always defer to the expertise and vision of the photographer. They are the professional and artist here. This is their jam. And, there are so many variables. Sometimes a plan won’t work out on the day of the shoot for a variety of reasons. A good photographer will be able to sense the mood of the shoot and being there in the energy could call for a different direction than originally planned. And that is totally OK! This is another reason why you must choose your photographer wisely. There may be game-day decisions that switch things up and you want to be 100% confident in your photographer.

9| Hair and Makeup are not optional

Sometimes these services are included and available through your photographer. Sometimes they are not. Either way, they are non-negotiable. You’re investing time and resources into this shoot and you don’t want to receive your photos back and wish you’d not diy’d your hair. Additionally, having a professional hair and make-up artist will alleviate some of the stress on photoshoot day. This is one area that you should leave to the professionals.

10| Bring a friend

Remember how I mentioned that it can feel unnatural to be center stage in these pics? Having your BFF to there to cheer you on and make you laugh will lighten the energy and lift your spirits. Plus, she can hold your snacks! Photoshoots can be long and sometimes drain your energy, so be sure to bring along some water and easy, non-greasy munchies!

I was blessed to have had an incredible photoshoot experience with the very talented Christa Meola. It’s been just over two years since our shoot and we’ve gotten so much use out of these amazing photographs. I’m ready for another one!! I suggest retaking your photos every couple of years. As you evolve, you will want your photos to reflect that direction as well. So, if you aren’t completely and utterly smitten with the end result of your photos, don’t worry too much. You’re usually your own worst critic, right? No stress. Use what you can, and know that you’ll likely want another shoot a year or two in the future anyway.

As part of our branding engagements, we always offer photo shoot direction and support. We help you choose your photographer, plan your wardrobe and location, and suggest specific shots that will be needed. It’s THAT important. When we have great photos to work with, it not only has a huge impact on the level of design work we can create, it also has a lasting impact on your connections and thus, conversions.

Rachel xo