Style tips to help you prepare for your photo shoot

One of the top questions I get from personal branding and headshot clients is what to wear to their photo shoot so I wanted to go through some of my top tips to help you prepare. The wonderful thing about a custom personal branding session is that we can fit a TON of variety into one of my signature sessions through outfits for different situations and seasons, a mix of casual and more formal, and clothing that emphasizes your personality. But that also means you need more outfits picked out - so let's dive in to how to make the most from your session.

I typically do at least some part of the session outdoors depending on how much nature is a part of their brand, and in Seattle-Tacoma area where I am based, that means planning for layers, and even on-brand umbrellas at times! More on that below. I recommend starting to plan your branding session at least 4 weeks in advance so that leaves plenty of time to shop or order clothes.

So, what should you wear for your personal branding session? Here are some tips to help you make the right choices:

First off, what's your brand vibe?

Determining things like your brand vibe, personality, lifestyle and activities are all part of the discovery phase and crucial to providing the grounding layer for planning your outfits. Are you serious and polished? Whimsical and light-hearted? These will have very different clothing choices. The locations and settings you use for your setting will also impact your outfit choices. If we're planning a bunch of cozy working on the couch images, you want to make sure you have clothing that isn't restrictive and looks realistic in that setting.

Fun & Welcoming vibes!

Author of a sexy rom com novel

Stylish and experienced designer

Warm, fun & relaxed

mix of more formal and casual

We want your brand images to last for years to come, and that means planning for a mix of both casual and less casual outfits, depending of course on your industry and personal style. If you never wear heels and a pencil dress, then there's certainly no need to dress that formally for your session. Some of my favorite images are often the most casual and relaxed ones, hanging out with the pups in ripped jeans and a favorite t-shirt. Those images that give your clients a glimpse into who you are when you're not hard at work for them. But it's good to have a mix of both so you have what you need across many scenarios.

consider wearing your brand colors

If you have a color palette for your brand, it's smart to think about using your clothing as another way to create a cohesive website and social media feed. Take a look at the color wheel as well to think about making your brand colors pop - Complementary pairings or mono chromatic tend to be the most impactful in my opinion. Try picking colors opposite on the color wheel as a background element while you wear your brand color, or vice versa. Or go analogous or monochromatic for a more soothing integration of brand colors.

Beyond clothing, though, you can also integrate your key colors in various ways through thoughtfully layered desk decor, background artwork, and other details.

Go with timeless, not trendy

While it's important to stay current and trendy in your industry, you don't want your personal branding photos to look outdated in a year or two. That's why it's a good idea to choose clothing that has a classic, timeless look. Avoid trends that are likely to fade quickly, and opt for styles that will still look stylish and relevant in a few years.

Plan for layers and outdoors as well

Unlike other kinds of portrait photography, branding sessions happen year-round to keep that lovely marketing content a'flowin! Although a lot of my branding sessions happen indoors - homes and offices, cafes or hotels - we often do incorporate some outdoor time (or a lot of it depending on your brand!) as well to showcase more of your personality, hobbies, and lifestyle. So in the Seattle-Tacoma area, that means planning for some layers or even a cute, on-brand umbrella! Plus layers help create variety without the need for another outfit change. Bonus!!

We incorporated a cute umbrella into this colorful street scene during a photo shoot in London

Think about seasonal variety

To maximize your branding session it's important to bring a wide variety of clothing across seasons as well. That way you don't get to your Black Friday sale and have only images of you in a summer dress.

For Darci's session we planned for some of the key seasons in our choices of clothing

pay attention to fit, comfort and what you want to emphasize

It's important to choose clothing that fits well and is comfortable to wear. You don't want to be tugging at your clothes or adjusting your outfit during your branding session, as this can be distracting and take away from the overall look of the photos. Make sure you choose clothing that fits well in all the right places, and that you feel confident and comfortable wearing. Clothing should never be baggy as it doesn't photograph well.

Are you particularly camera-shy? You're not alone! Check out this blog post with 5 branding tips for the camera-shy.

It's also important to think about what are your favorite features of your face or body, and let's dress to emphasize them! Is there a color that really makes your eyes pop?

If you don't love your arms, then it's best to avoid sleeveless blouses or shirts. If you absolutely love how toned your legs are after your last half-marathon, then by all means let me know that so we can emphasize that through clothing, posing and the environments we choose.

Sexy, international author vibe? Nailed it!

Don't Forget the Details

In addition to your clothing, it's important to pay attention to the details that will be visible in your branding photos. This includes your hair, makeup, and accessories. Choose a hairstyle that is professional and polished, and consider hiring a makeup artist to help you look your best. I have some great ones to recommend if you're in the Seattle area. Small touches such as jewelry and scarves can add interest and personality to your outfit, but make sure they don't detract from your overall look.

call in the pros

If you're a small business owner, you're wearing ALL. THE. HATS. Amiright? That can be a lot to deal with so savvy business owners are known to outsource the things that fall outside their zone of genius, or that they simply don't have time to deal with. A brand session is an investment in yourself and your business, and where you want to take it this year. Together we're creating a library of on-brand images which will become the most essential marketing assets that you'll be reaching for this year. It's not something to throw together at the last minute, and a good brand photographer will provide you with a workback schedule to help you keep on track.

Not great at coming up with outfits that feel like you? I have multiple stylists who can help with planning. Nordstrom also offers a personal shopper service, but you'll want to build in time for that process to happen, which is why I typically book brand sessions 4-6 weeks in advance. And for the boss babes who want the FULL VIP treatment, we can find both a stylist and a hair and makeup artist to ensure you have a complete team working to uplevel your brand.

In conclusion, choosing the right clothing for your personal branding session is an important part of creating a strong and cohesive brand. By considering your industry, personal brand, and the details that will be visible in your photos, you can create a look that is professional, polished, and timeless. Remember, your branding photos are an investment in your career, so take the time to choose clothing that will help you make a positive and lasting impression. It's not something to leave until the day before!

Don't skip the plan!

I strongly encourage you to have a plan in place for your brand session if you're not working with a professional. My branding clients get a fully customized plan to help everything run smoothly for their session. For each location it includes mood boards, outfits, props and packing list, key shot list and storylines we're focusing on. There's always room to adjust on the spot but your images will be more effective if there was thought put into them first. Trust me on this one ... Don't skip the plan!

Kind Words from Brand Clients

Ling Ling, Family Photographer

"Kelly is thorough in her communication and preparation from start to finish.

She has a vision for the session and implements it well. She is fun and easy going and helps make you feel comfortable on the day of your session.

I am a photographer myself and was so pleased with all the images Kelly provided me for my branding session. I love having them on my website!"