Hey there, fellow business owners! Today, let's dive into an exciting topic that can make a significant impact on your personal brand: planning a photo shoot. Whether you're an entrepreneur, influencer, or just someone passionate about showcasing their unique personality, capturing stunning visuals can elevate your brand to new heights. But here's the question: How far in advance should you plan your personal branding photo shoot? Let's dive in!

First things first, congratulations on recognizing the importance of personal branding. It's a powerful tool in today's digital age, allowing you to authentically connect with your audience and stand out from the crowd. A well-executed photo shoot can play a pivotal role in crafting a visual narrative that captures your essence. So, let's ensure you're set up for success.

Timing is super important when it comes to planning a personal branding photo shoot. The ideal timeframe largely depends on various factors, such as your objectives, availability, and the complexity of the shoot but generally I recommend to my clients that they schedule their session with me 4-6 weeks before the session date, or 6-8 weeks before they need the images live in their marketing. While I always try to leave some room for opportunities that come up quickly, like a business coach who recently had a magazine cover opportunity pop up on a short timeframe, ideally we have plenty of weeks to plan together using my proven method. I'm all about keeping it stress-free and easy as possible!

So what are the key factors that affect the timing that you should be aware of when planning? Read on as I break it down into a few key considerations that will save you time, energy and headaches:

Business coach Shruti Rustagi of Compounding Leadership Coaching

timing Considerations for your brand session

1. Clarify Your Goals: Before diving headfirst into the planning process, I always ground my brand sessions first in your business goals. What message do you want to convey? What important products or services might you be launching in the next 6-12 months? What emotions or qualities do you want your photos to evoke? Understanding your brand's essence and business priorities will help us determine the type of images you need and the overall direction of the shoot.

2. Allow Ample Preparation Time: Good things take time, and the same goes for planning a photo shoot. A proper branding session is not a 'show up and shoot experience." Start by researching and selecting a photographer whose style aligns with your vision. Consider their portfolio, experience, and the vibe you're aiming for. Do they have any marketing experience? Reach out to them at least 4-8 weeks before the desired shoot date to ensure their availability and to discuss the details.

3. Scheduling, Locations and Availability: Coordinating schedules with your photographer and any other professionals involved is crucial. My schedule for branding sessions is often booked up 2-months in advance and the same can be true for location rentals and any extended team you may want to work with (hair & makeup artists, stylists, etc). Allow flexibility in your schedule to accommodate any unforeseen circumstances, illnesses or weather changes that might require rescheduling. You may find you want a specific location and you will need time to book a studio, coordinate with a hotel or co-working space, scout locations, or get permits.

Commercial photography of any kind often requires a permit, even in local parks, so to ensure your session happens without any hitches or legal trouble, it's wise to build in time for this discovery process and paperwork. I handle all this for my branding and commercial clients so all they have to do is work with me on deciding the ideal locations, but it does factor into how much time we need in advance to plan the session.

If you're using an AirBnb or someone's home, or integrating friends or clients into your session, you will need location and model releases signed in advance so it's best to work with a brand photographer who provides you with a detailed workback schedule. Most portrait or headshot photographers aren't familiar with the level of strategy and planning that goes into a full personal branding or commercial session as it's a different specialty, so be sure you're working with the right photographer to ensure a smooth experience.

My clients have a detailed plan and strategy to guide their session which aligns to business goals. Click here to learn more about my approach

Allow time for the photo shoot details to come together

4. Concept Development and Wardrobe Selection: Planning your outfits and defining the concept for your shoot is an exciting part of the process. Give yourself enough time to curate a wardrobe that represents your personal style and aligns with your brand's message, which may involve buying additional outfits. Think about the location, props, and overall aesthetic you want to achieve, and gather inspiration to communicate your ideas effectively.

Need help on wardrobe and styling? Click here to read a helpful post about what to wear for your personal branding photo shoot.

I also can recommend experienced stylists who can become part of our extended team to provide VIP treatment and clothing guidance. All of that information is in my prep guide for clients so there's no guesswork needed.

5. Hair, Makeup, and Grooming: If you plan to hire professionals for hair and makeup help, consider their availability as well. It's advisable to schedule a trial session before the shoot to ensure you're comfortable with their work and achieve the desired look. Book their services well in advance to secure their availability on the shoot day. Although most of my personal branding sessions take place during the work week, if you're hoping for a weekend branding session with hair & makeup support be aware that many artists are booked out on weekends during the busy wedding seasons.

6. Post-Production and Editing: After the shoot, there's still work to be done. Allow your photographer sufficient time for post-production and editing. Depending on their workload, this process can take anywhere from a few days for sneak peeks to a couple of weeks for the full gallery. I always work with my clients to understand any important deadlines and set expectations and timelines in advance so you can plan your content release strategy accordingly.

Interior Designer Melinda Slater of Well-Designed Home and Slater Interiors

The right brand photographer will make this process easy for you

If all of this feels like a lot, it doesn't have to be! As a brand and commercial photographer, my job is to have a streamlined workflow and process to make this easy for you to reach your goals. It starts with a discovery call so we can see if we're a good fit for each other. I'll dive into your brand vibe, business goals and how you want to be portrayed and come back with a strategy for our session, a workback schedule to keep things on track, prop and packing lists, location details and more. My personal branding sessions are actually a lot of fun because we do all the planning up front and then we put on some music and relax into it on the day of the shoot!

Remember, while it's important to plan ahead, life is unpredictable. Unexpected circumstances can arise, so always allow some buffer time to ensure a stress-free experience. Flexibility and adaptability are key traits in personal branding, and the ability to adjust your plans when needed will serve you well.

In conclusion, planning a personal branding photo shoot is an exciting endeavor that requires careful consideration. Give yourself enough time to clarify your goals, find the right team of professionals, and coordinate schedules. A well-thought-out timeline, typically ranging from 4-8 weeks, ensures that all aspects of your personal branding session will go smoothly and you'll be armed with some authentic new marketing content to power your website, social media channels and other marketing collateral this year.

Kind Words from Brand Clients

Elise, Productivity Coach

"Seriously, the best photography investment for my business I've EVER made was working with Kelly. I'm so grateful for these images!

Kelly takes the time to truly understand your specific branding needs BEFORE your photoshoot, helps you prepare, and has an impressive ability to translate service-based offerings into visual stories that you can use to grow your business.

If you are looking to hire a brand photographer to help you promote your business, I highly recommend Kelly Anderson Photography!"