Phew, long title! Okay, hi. I’ve got something awesome to share with you and it’s called the Brand Photo Shoot Planner for Freelancers.
As you can probably tell from the name, it’s a planner that you can use to plan out your brand photo shoots. What kind of shots to take? What props to use? All those go into the planner.
Background time! I was hired by a friend to plan out the social media content of her family’s brand. Of course, this involves a lot of photos (it’s a restaurant) and one day we thought it would be great to take branded photos.
She had hired photographers before, but this time we were going to do it on our own.
Since we both didn’t have experience conducting or even taking part in any branded photo shoots, I wanted to make sure that we weren’t going to waste time taking unusable photos.
And…. We definitely didn’t want to waste money! For each dish that we were going to ‘shoot’, the chef had to make it from scratch. And afterwards, we can’t exactly serve a paying customer that dish, can we?
(But I got to eat some of the dishes. So yay for me.)
So since time is money and money is money, we were extra cautious in planning so that we wouldn’t have to shoot the same dish twice.
What are branded photos and why do I need them?
What are branded photos?
Branded photos are photos that are intended to convey branding. For example, if it’s a luxury brand, the photos have the “luxury vibe” or identity that the brand wants to promote to its customers.
The photos are NOT random — they’re well-planned and designed to achieve the objective that the brand wants.
In other words, branded photos are a part of branding, just like the logo and packaging.
Why do I need branded photos as a freelancer?
Eventhough you’re a freelancer, you have a brand. It’s you. You’re the professional [insert title here].
By having branded photos that you can use to promote your services, you’re sending the right message to your potential clients.
Think about it: Someone recommends your services to their friend (aka your potential client). The potential client decides to check out your Instagram account to scope you out.
My question is: What will your potential client see when they look at your account? Are they getting the right “picture” of your capabilities as a professional freelancer?
Before you ask, I think that it’s good to share personal stuff now and again on your official freelancer account. It makes people recognize that you’re a relatable human being.
But even personal stuff / pictures have to have the right vibe…
What happens when you don’t have a Brand Photo Shoot Planner?
Easy peasy. You waste time and money.
Imagine two situations where time and money is wasted:
You hire a photographer to take your branded photos. You meet up at a nice cafe with a private room that you booked (can’t have the cafe customers photobombing your moment). You’re all dressed up and looking nice. The photographer arrives. You spend the next 1-2 hours looking at the camera, not looking at the camera, looking out the window, fake-laughing, and generally being awkward. When you get the photos — plenty of them, sure — they’re all photos of you just sitting around!
Guess how many of those photos you can use on social media? Less than 3! You can’t post 126 photos of yourself in a row. Totally not usable.
Unless your photographer is also a stylist / creative director / someone with experience in giving direction for the shots, your photo shoot won’t be productive.
You woke up early on Saturday morning, feeling well-rested. You’re thinking that it’d be great to take advantage of the natural light and take some good Instagram photos. You start to arrange a few things, a mug of coffee here, a few rose petals scattered there, and start shooting away! You start adding props in until in the end you’re not quite sure what it is you’re trying to shoot. After a few more minutes of fidgeting with the props (the coffee is getting cold), you call it a day.
If you have limited time (weekend time is a national commodity) why would you sweat for hours trying to make pictures look good when you’ll only get a few good ones?
I’ve been through Situation 2 more times than I could ever count. I’ll start my Saturday/Sunday with good intentions. Get some great photos for my business! And end up feeling discouraged because I’ve only gotten a few that I could REALLY use and write captions for on social media. 1 hour for 2-3 photos is not time well spent, in my opinion.
The only way to maximize the time and money that you will spend on taking branded photos is to PLAN AHEAD.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I know it’s corny, don’t judge me.
But so many things go into making great photos.
Great subject matter.
You need a plan to put together all these! If not, you’d have wasted time and money and you won’t be any closer to attracting the clients that you want.
So that’s where the Brand Photo Shoot Planner for Freelancers comes in.
How to use the Brand Photo Shoot Planner for Freelancers
I’m gonna walk you through on how to use the Planner for your own photo shoot. You can get the file to use by entering your email address in the form above.
1. OVERVIEW OF THE BRAND PHOTO SHOOT PLANNER
Firstly, here’s an overview of the Brand Photo Shoot Planner. As you can see, I’m using a table in a .docx file because it’s the easiest way to edit the planner and have everything visible at a glance.
2. Shot #
The Shot # is how you organize the different shots you have using alphabets. It doesn’t represent each ‘click’ of the camera if that makes sense.
It highly depends on the content and subject matter of the shot. Basically, if the shot is different from the previous shot and the change of shot requires some effort, then it needs to be its own Shot B, C and so on.
In other words, change the scene = change the alphabet.
Shot A - A photo of you wearing a red shirt and sitting down.
Shot B - A photo of you wearing a blue shirt and standing in front of a door.
To change from Shot A to Shot B, you’ll need to change your shirt, right? It’s a change of scene and there’s effort involved.
So it’s helpful to categorize them under different alphabets so that your photo shoots are done in the most efficient order. You don’t want to keep changing between the red shirt and blue shirt when you can do each separately.
2. Shot Description
The Shot Description is where you describe the shot that you want. Like my example, it doesn’t have to be super specific.
It’s also where I insert other people’s photos that have inspired me (hence, ‘Inspo’) or want to replicate in some way. It’s easier than having to check my phone or search through the Gallery everytime I want to take the shot.
The Styling/Framing is the description of the shots under the same alphabet that you HAVE to have.
Maybe you want a close-up of the items in your flatlay to highlight each one. Or maybe you want a bird’s eye view of all items in your flatlay. Or both.
OR…. Maybe you want your flatlay to have an empty space in the middle so that you can edit in text later.
For all those shots you want, write then down! The more shots you plan ahead and write down, the more efficient and productive your photo shoot will be.
Also, nothing sucks worse then when you’ve already changed the scene and realizing that you forgot to take a particular shot that you reeeeally, reeeeeeally need.
Note: TOP-VIEW refers to the standard flatlay style where you take the photos directly on top of the items. SIDE-VIEW refers to when you take photos from any other side angle.
The Props portion is really about what you want to feature in your photos.
By planning ahead on the props, you’ll be able to….
Choose items that convey the vibe or identity you want to present.
Choose items that are relevant to the subject matter of your social media post.
One of my favourite tips for choosing props is to choose items that are in your brand colours to really tie your “aesthetic” together on your social media feed.
For example, if your brand colour is pink, you might want to show off your pink notebook in your flatlays. (I went into more detail about choosing props based on your brand colours in this post)
Once you’ve figured out what props you want to use, you can collect them and put them together in a container BEFORE your photo shoot starts. No more running around like a chicken trying to find stuff.
The Notes are basically notes of the shots you want to take. Any extra info that you want to include goes here.
In my example above, I’ve listed down the different eyeshadow palettes that I will feature in my flatlay. The idea is I’d prepare the flatlay and switch between the palettes when taking the shots.
If you want to be super duper detailed and organized, you can list them in the Framing/Styling portion so that you can make sure to tick each one as done (in every frame possible).
But unless you’re doing a product photo shoot where you HAVE to get photos of every product from EVERY angle, organizing the shots like my example would be more than enough!
Tips for taking branded photos as a freelancer
Hold ye horses! Here’s a few tips that have worked really well for me:
Use Pinterest and Instagram to collect reference photos. If you’re scratching your head thinking about what shots to include, check out photos on Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration! It’s good for starting off your first few shots. After that, let your creativity take over.
Save your reference photos in your laptop / phone / tablet for easy reach. During the actual photo shoot, you’d want to look at the reference photos constantly in order to replicate them. It’s easier to do that when all those photos are saved and ready.
Think about where you want to use your branded photos. As a freelancer, you’ll be promoting your services to potential clients, and your branded photos are supposed to help you do that.
Have a theme for each photo shoot session. It’s unlikely that you can cram all the photos you want in a single photo shoot session, so it’s better to focus on only a few shots under the same theme and get them right.
The best thing about having great photos is that they become an asset to your brand or business. Not only can your potential clients become familiarised with you and your style, you’ll also be able to create the brand you want by leaving the right impressions.
What kind of photos do you think is best to promote your services? Comment below!