Running your own business is more than just selling products and services. It’s about creating a brand. Your brand. Establishing a brand goes beyond a website and logo; it’s the soul of the business. Its culture, values, and ethics.

Having imagery that complements your brand is crucial and I have recently started taking on a growing number of commissions from start-ups and small businesses who are in need of photography that supports their brand.

The scope of these sessions can be wide-ranging: formal portraits, lifestyle portraits, product photography, documentary / editorial photography, landscapes. There can be a lot to cram in and without prior planning it can risk losing purpose (something I have previously written about here).

To help you get the most out of your personal branding shoot I am going to share with you four key pieces of advice I give my clients to ensure that you get the best set of images for your business.

Draw up a specific shot list

This is the most important part of your planning. Drawing up a list of the photographs you want will give you a clear vision of what you want to achieve, help keep the photographer focused, and save a huge amount of time. Separate them by genre, e.g. portraits or product, and assign a priority rating to each.

The idea here is to ensure the photographer knows which shots absolutely have to be achieved on the day, e.g. time sensitive ones for your impending website launch, those which are required over the coming weeks / months, e.g. for social media posts, and those which are optional extras.

Be specific. You’re not being pedantic or fussy – you’re being clear. And that benefits everyone. “A product shot of my iPhone” is too generic a description and open to wide interpretation. Really drill down into the details: “a top-down, flat lay colour photo of my iPhone on my work desk.”

Think in colour

Having a colour scheme is an effective means of helping create an identifiable brand. How you determine that scheme is up to you. If you already have a logo then the colours might naturally flow from that. If you are in the process of building a website it might be that you have some accent colours in mind which would be a good starting point.

Ultimately the decision is yours but consider what colours complement your service or product. Do you want to go for a darker or lighter feel? And what about the look of the images: clean and soft or more contrasty and gritty?

Give the photographer an idea of your core colours and discuss how this can be incorporated into the shot list and editing. And remember: having a colour scheme isn’t at the exclusion of every other colour – it’s just the colours you would like to be most dominant.

And yes, black and white does count as a colour scheme!

Create a mood board

This will likely go hand-in-hand with drawing up your shot list. Mood boards can sound intimidating and time-consuming to put together but they are a very effective way to visualise the look and feel you want to achieve for your brand. You can create your mood board online or, ideally, print it out.

Pinterest and Instagram are the best starting points for putting together ideas. It can be examples of photographs you wish to replicate, colour schemes you like, or simply a collection of images that speak to your identity and values. There are no rules other than it being something that inspires you.

And it doesn’t have to solely be images. Phrases or keywords that you associate with your brand are extremely helpful in distilling what your business stands for. I always ask my clients to describe their business to me in three descriptive terms and you’d be surprised how challenging most people find this exercise.

Where and how will your images be used

Do you need a few key photographs for your website? Or images that are more suitable for use in your digital marketing campaigns? Or is social media the primary purpose and you need a large volume or wide-ranging images for regular posting?

Knowing where and how you will use your images will help define the scope of the brief. For example, if you exclusively want your images cropped square for Instagram the photographer will be able to consider this when it comes to composition.