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The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Brand Photoshoot

Feeling overwhelmed and don’t know how to plan a brand photoshoot? Don’t worry, I’ve got your back!

First, a quick intro: I’m Chelsea Loren — a Branding and Product Photographer based in San Diego. I have over 10+ years in the fashion, travel, and photography space and have created imagery and creative marketing campaigns for over 100+ brands around the world. 

In college, I studied Art History, and delved into creating dynamic scenes and compositions, understanding color theory, and ways to illustrate feelings and emotions. I tied that into my love of Fashion and worked as the PR & Marketing Intern at Wildfox Couture, while learning all about product placement, along with analyzing audiences and trends.

Previously the Features Editor for Green Wedding Shoes, and the Blog and Content Director at The Blonde Abroad — Forbes-Listed Top 10 Female Travel Blogger, I have a keen insight into what works well online and for specific niches. 

I’ve created imagery for local small businesses and companies who primarily sell online to big corporations like Best Western and Capital One.

That’s enough about me for now — but just wanted to give you a little insight into how so many different facets are drawn upon for branding photoshoots. It’s an art, science, marketing plan and positioning, storytelling, and ultimately a way to connect with the right audience for you.

It’s a way to show up online as your business — how you want to be perceived, what problems you solve for clients, what you offer and why people should trust you.

Your website, your socials, and ultimately the photographs that highlight your brand and business are the first introduction people have to you and your business. So you want your photos to speak to the right audience for you and you want to ensure your messaging is not mushy.

That’s a lot to tackle, isn’t it?

And that’s where I come in.

I’ve learned a thing or two about how to prepare for a brand photoshoot to make sure you get all the images you need and ensure everyone is as cool as a cucumber. So here’s my ultimate guide to planning a brand photoshoot!

What is a Brand Photoshoot?

Your brand, business, and services are unique — so shouldn’t your imagery be as well?

Brand photoshoots are essential with so many online businesses and are the key way to differentiate yourself — effectively highlighting why someone should choose your business over the one down the street. Say goodbye to run-of-the-mill stock photography and hello to personalized, on-brand images.

Why is a brand photoshoot important?

A brand photoshoot for your website is so much more than just photos. It’s strategy and a way to work *smarter* (and not necessarily harder). During Consultation Calls with clients, I learn about their marketing goals, key messages, aesthetics, upcoming launches or rebrands, and dive into the nitty gritty of what makes their business awesome. 

Like a made-to-order suit that fits in all the right places and makes you feel like a million bucks, a curated gallery of brand images is tailored to your specific needs!  

Vintage boho girl jewelry designer Lauren Lucore of Good and Gold Studio on Etsy branding photography

Branding Photoshoots or Brand Marketing Photoshoots are a way to draw your customers.

One of the best ways to build trust with potential clients is to let them see you in action. Personal branding photography allows your audience to relate and feel comfortable with you right away — like you’ve just gotten together over a cup of coffee.

They are more likely to be patrons of your business or service when they can see you, understand the problem you solve for them, what value you bring to their lives, and they ultimately see you as an expert in your field. 

One of the best things a brand photoshoot can do is make you stand out in a crowded market and establish you as the top choice in your niche. It further develops your brand’s presence and communicates what you offer and your value to others. 

If you’re using generic stock images from some random website, there’s a good chance a similar business just down the road is doing the same thing. And if there’s nothing that sets you apart, the customer will either go with the cheaper option or search elsewhere for someone they can trust.

A brand photoshoot is the perfect way to communicate that you are the go-to person or business and not lose out on potential customers. 

How to Plan a Brand Photoshoot

First, find a photographer whose style you love and you feel understands your business and brand. This is not the time to hire your friend’s son or your aunt who just got her first camera. While we all have to start somewhere — these are the first impression photos potential clients will see. These need to be strategic, tell a story, make your business shine, and display what’s unique about it. 

I could go on and on about how to plan a brand photoshoot — and I talk with my clients in depth about it! Here are just a few of the things to consider when preparing for your brand photoshoot:

Brand Photoshoot Checklist

  • What/Who is Your Brand? What does your business do? What is your mission, your values, and your why? Who is your target audience and client? How would you describe the overall feeling of your brand? All of these things will factor into storylines and messaging. If you’re having difficulty finding the right words for something things, moodboards and Pinterest boards are fantastic!
  • Storylines and Messaging — there is no-one-size-fits-all answer for storylines and messagings; your business and brand is different from every other brand out there…so should your storylines and key messages!
  • Props and Tangible Items — What items do you use on the daily? What things are part of your creative process? These make great props and bring authenticity to your session.
  • Location, Location, Location — Is your session taking place at your home, your shop, an Airbnb, or elsewhere? It’s important to plan this out for proper lighting and to make sure there are multiple vignettes available.
  • Wardrobe Prep — Like I mentioned above, figuring out ways to maximize your outfit choices will allow you to stretch your content and not appear that all your photos were taken around the same time. You want to have the air that you always have fresh content…but probably don’t want to get your hair or makeup professionally done all the time. 😉
  • Shot List and Inspiration — Pinterest is a great resource to pull inspiration from. You can find ideas for poses you like, find patterns in vibes and aesthetics you’re drawn to, and chat with your photographer about things you like and don’t like.
  • What Platforms Are Images Being Used On? This is huge! Are the images going to be shared in a newsletter, on Instagram, print, website, or another capacity? This factors into crop sizing and it’s so good to know ahead of time so your photographer can photograph scenes with a certain crop ratio in mind.
  • Timeline — Again, work with your photographer on this to create an efficient and strategic timeline for the day. Take into consideration lighting, when you’ll both need a water and snack break, as well as outfit changes, and if there are any places you need to drive to. These little things quickly eat away at a timeline and need to be accounted for!
  • Just In Case — I like to pack an emergency kit of “just in case” items to ensure everything is polished. This consists of things like a sewing kit, Tide Pen, lint roller, hairbrush, bobby pins, safety pins, and those kind of things.

How Much Does a Brand Photoshoot Cost?

This totally depends on your area and what you need out of your photos. Generally, brand photoshoots do cost more than a typical family photo session or headshot session. And for good reason! 

There is so much research and planning that goes into a brand photoshoot ahead of time to ensure that key messaging is relayed and your business is illustrated in the best light.

It’s not just popping in for a few pictures to throw on the website and add on a filter. Definitely not. A good branding photographer will do their homework and pin down a number of things to create a strategic shot list and timeline for your session. 

For that reason, most branding sessions begin close to $900-$1,000, and depending on the collection and number of images, can run around $4-5,000.

Don’t be alarmed by that number! It may seem like sticker shock at first, but think about how much business you could be gaining just from investing in a good branding photographs.

Your branding session will pay for itself time and time again.

Branding Photography portraits in nature by Chelsea Loren woman wearing pink with baby


What to Wear to a Brand Photoshoot?

If you’re wondering what to wear for a brand photoshoot, I’m going to repeat myself: there is no one-size-fits-all answer!

I know I keep harping on this point, but every brand and business is unique, so there isn’t a blanket statement about clothing for brand photoshoots.

While there are general things to think about, it ultimately comes down to styling and how you want to come across online.

Perhaps you’re a real estate agent with a strong and fiery personality, but you like to add in a splash of femininity — this is going to look completely different than an artist in their studio who works with paints or clay.

As a general rule of thumb, I like to play off of a brand color palette for photoshoots and keep garments relatively cohesive. This means for a business whose color palette is olive green, orange and cream, I might suggest the following:

  • Olive Green Dress
  • Cream Pants, Rust Orange Top
  • Cream Dress with Orange Scarf Tied at Neck
  • Green Overalls with White Bag


This way the overall collection of images looks cohesive and great together on the website (intentional, but not stuffy). 

If you’re looking for clothing brand photoshoot ideas, Pinterest is an excellent resource. Chat with your photographer about the different storylines for your branding session, and their suggestions for clothing.

Brand Photography Shot List

You won’t be surprised to hear this, but the shot list varies from person to person, business to business.While there are some “standard” images that are always good to have, I prefer to find more unique and creative ways to capture my clients at work.

There are only so many “people laughing at their laptop” photos the world can take before it becomes a meme, right?

That said, please use these brand photoshoot ideas as a launching pad and definitely not as the definitive guide to what to capture at a brand photoshoot…because there is so much more! Like I said, it’s an art, a science, strategy, marketing, storytelling, and more.

  • Professional Headshot
  • Writing in Your Planner/Calendar
  • Working on Your Laptop
  • Celebrating a Launch or New Product 
  • Close Up Shot of Props or Items You Use in Your Business
  • Something Silly/Funny That Makes You Relatable
  • Messy Creative Space
  • Clean Desk or WorkSpace
  • You With Your Favorite Drink/Snack (Think Coffee, Rose, Ice Cream, etc)
  • Close Up of Your Product

Looking for brand photoshoot ideas?

Check out some of my past Branding Photography work!

© 2024 Chelsea loren photography