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I'm a branding photographer living in Charleston, South Carolina, a lover of eating strawberries, and my obsession is teaching others how to live a life they love.

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The Anatomy of a Successful Brand Shoot

Mar 17

What makes up the anatomy of a successful brand shoot? Hint: it’s more than just hiring a great photographer. Creating your ideal brand photos requires collaboration with a team of experts and strategic planning. We’re talking color schemes, props, beauty looks, wardrobe, locations, schedules, and shot lists. I know it sounds like a lot, but there’s no need to be overwhelmed! In this post, I’m breaking down what makes up the anatomy of a successful brand shoot.

To illustrate, I’m going to show you a recent Signature Brand Shoot with my client Jordan Duvall. Jordan is a coach, educator, and creative director with her company Ignite Your Soul Brand. Jordan works with business owners to nail their brands from top to bottom, including creating brand images. Admittedly, between herself and me loving to plan brand shoots, she had a huge leg up in planning her shoot! But, her shoot is the perfect example of how all the pieces of the puzzle produce long-lasting, on-brand images.

If you want your investment in brand photography to pay off in quality, usefulness, and longevity, this post is for you! As soon as you’ve booked your brand photographer (check out this post for tips on how to choose the best one for you), it’s time to get planning! A great brand photographer will help you with every step along the way, but especially if you know you need to plan these things ahead of time, you’ll know what to expect and be a step ahead (and your photographer will adore you for being so proactive!). Ready to discover alllll of the brand shoot anatomy you need to know? Let’s get to it!

The Anatomy of a Successful Brand Shoot

1. A Curated Color Scheme

The first, and perhaps most important, piece of the brand shoot puzzle is your color scheme. Luckily, this is a fairly easy one to check off the list. Head straight to your brand colors, and voila! You’ve got the color scheme for your brand shoot. 

Jordan’s brand color scheme is royal blue, navy, black, a bright, magenta pink, and a light beige/white. She also recently added emerald green as a supplementary color. So, we added pops of green in her wardrobe and used a green wall in our Airbnb location.

Keep your color scheme in mind as you go through all of the additional anatomical parts of your brand shoot, especially:

  • Location(s) choices
  • Wardrobe
  • Lip/nail colors
  • Props

As you can see in Jordan’s photos, her color scheme comes through immediately. From the locations to her wardrobe, every detail is in sync.

2. Lovely Locations

Next up, on-brand locations! Locations are so important to brand shoots because they have a huge influence on the overall vibe of your photos. The location determines the “base” of your shots. Everything from backgrounds, furniture, and accessories in a location can (or won’t!) give your photos a connective feel.

After refining your color scheme, you’ll want to head straight for booking a location(s). Locations can be booked out months in advance, depending on where you’d like to shoot. If you already own or rent a space in which you’d like to shoot, lucky you! Just make sure that your space feels on-brand. Your photographer can help you make the determination of whether another space might be more appropriate.

If you do decide to rent or use another space other than your own, you have several options! Check out local co-working spaces, venues, Airbnbs, or VRBO’s (just be sure to let the renter/owner know you’ll be doing a photoshoot in their space).

While researching, look for colors, finishes, and furniture that mesh well with your brand. You can always bring in props and accessories to add to the on-brand ambiance.

3. A Well-Thought Out Wardrobe

When booking your brand shoot, your mind probably almost immediately goes to, “but what will I wear!?” and for good reason! Your wardrobe is key for not only the color scheme but most importantly, your confidence and what you’re projecting to your potential clients.

My recommendation is to hire a wardrobe stylist (if that sounds totally bougie, trust me, it’s worth every penny). Wardrobe stylists are experts at fitting clothes to your body type. They can also help you pull together multiple looks for your shoot based on your locations and must-have shots. 

If you don’t want to go the stylist route, you can pull your outfits together yourself (and maybe enlist a friend for help!). Keep your color scheme, shot list, and audience perception in mind. Here are a few helpful questions to ask while curating your wardrobe:

  • How do I want my audience to see me? What first impression of me do they need in order to want to work with me?
  • What style(s) fit well with my brand? Professional and sleek, casual, sporty, sexy, chic, glam? A mix of a few styles?
  • What styles, colors, and cuts make me feel the most confident and comfortable?

4. An Expert Beauty Team

Next up in the anatomy of a successful brand shoot is an expert beauty team. Jordan hired one of my favorite beauty gals, Dominique with Shadows and Shears for her shoot. Jordan hired Dominique for the duration of the shoot, which meant that Dominique could switch up Jordan’s look throughout the day.

The value in being able to switch up your hair and makeup looks is variety. Especially when you’re investing your hard-earned money in brand photography, you don’t want every shot to look like it was shot on the same day. Your photos will last much longer if you enhance the variety in your shots. Dominique took just 15-20 minutes in-between shots to give Jordan an entirely new look. 

5. A Plethora of Props

One of the most overlooked elements of a brand shoot is props! I think the word props puts people off because it sounds inauthentic, but trust me when I say that props are your friend! Without props, you risk narrowing the impact and versatility of your brand photos.

Jordan brought a group of props that helped describe her offers and what she does for her clients. For example, printed out mood boards, magazines, and Pantone cards visually describe her creative process. Cover images of Jordan’s Magnetic Brand program on an iPhone and laptop help clients visualize what they’ll receive when working with her. Affirmation cards and a crystal water bottle are props that her ideal clients relate to.

Got your gears turning? Good! When selecting your own props, be sure to consider your color scheme and upcoming offerings and launches.

6. Precise shot planning

One thing that your brand photographer can’t know unless you tell them is the photos you need for specific placements on your website, digital products, etc. For example, you might need a simple, vertical image with space at the top for the title of your e-book. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what this image looks like yet (that’s where the creativity of the shoot comes into play!). But as long as your photographer knows you need a shot in this orientation, you’ll ensure you have every shot you need.

Jordan made sure to let me know she needed lots of horizontal shots with her placed in the middle, to the left, and to the right so that she had plenty of room for text overlays in her sales graphics. Unless I knew what Jordan was planning to use her images for specifically, I may not have gotten every shot she needed for her upcoming launch. A good photographer will always ask what orientations you need, but it’s ultimately up to you to comb through exactly what you need images for and communicate that to your photographer. 

7. A strategic (and realistic) schedule

Another key element of a successful brand shoot is the shoot day schedule. I not only love schedules because I’m totally type-A, but they’re critical to a successful brand shoot. Your photographer should be in charge of creating the schedule, including communicating with all team members on their needs for the day.

Make sure your photographer has allotted at least 30 minutes at the beginning of the shoot so everyone can get settled and set up. If you’re getting hair and makeup done, you’ll easily want an hour and a half before the first shot even happens. Every shoot schedule is different, but generally I like to give each section of the shoot at least an hour with breaks in-between for switching up hair and makeup looks and setting up for the next shot. Also, don’t forget the most important part of the shoot day schedule: lunch!

The schedule will always change a bit throughout the shoot, but it’s important to make sure your schedule is realistic. If you’re worried you won’t get to all of your dream shots, prioritize and make these shots known to your photographer. There’s nothing worse than rushing around trying to fit the impossible into a shoot day. My rule of thumb is to always add at least 20-30 minutes extra to each section of my first draft of the schedule. I sometimes even put a timer on so that we keep moving and don’t miss any shots!

There you have it! The anatomy of a successful brand shoot

Are you ready to go forth in your brand shoot planning journey and kick some butt?! I hope these tips help as you make your dream brand photos a reality. Any questions for me? Drop them into the comments below!

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