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A Brand Photography Session Reflects Your Personality

When Avril contacted me about a set of photographs for her new website, she was clear about one thing: “I do not want typical corporate headshots!”. She had my attention right away and without realizing it, she was asking for a brand photography: a series of images that show her in a variety of real life situations.

Avril is multitalented and has enjoyed a successful, varied career. Currently, she specializes as a meeting facilitator. She is in demand by organizations who need assistance bringing a group together to work on a project.

When I asked her what type of photographs she had in mind, our conversation led to a series of questions that I sent her. These were designed to help her clarify how she wanted to project her image on the website. The questions included things like

– Tell me what you do and how you stand out
– List your 3-5 brand words (think: how you want your clients to feel)
– What’s your story? Why are you passionate about this work?

Avril went to work to answer these questions plus 9 more. They were easy for her because, in the process of building her new website, she’d already thought through the ideas. We then had a phone call and, from our conversation, the photographic goals were clear. We had a plan to create a set of images that matched her personality and the image she wanted to project. Our brand photography session was set to go!

creative at computer, brand photography
Our photo session began in Avril’s office. From the many options created, this was our favourite.
creative at work in office, brand photograph
Avril has spent years creating visual recordings of meetings. Here she explains the process.
If you know Avril, you know tea and that was the reason for this image in her kitchen. Hospitality and sharing tea with friends are high on the list.
brand photography at local cafe
Her favourite cafe was our next stop. When she needs to get away from her home office, this is a good place to find her. And of course with tea. Did you notice lots of books and sticky notes? These came from the questionaire.
As a visual recorder of meetings, Avril has many coloured pens … and the shoes to match!
creative person on playground, brand photography
Avril’s key words included joy, play and fun. That led us to the playground where we created a few like this. The balloon props also came from the questionnaire. Unfortunately, the teacher in charge of the preschool wasn’t too impressed with our use of the equipment!
branding headshots on playground slide for brand photography
More fun and play to illustrate the brand photography key words: creative, fun, play.
brand photography, creative facilitator
The neighbourhood where Avril lives has a number of murals, which she enjoys. When we found this one, it seemed just right to suggest the creative outcomes of the meetings she facilitates.
women portrait with mural background
This is about as ‘corporate’ as we got. Utilizing the local murals as a background, I created these charming portraits of Avril.

After a couple of hours, we felt confident we had covered our bases with this set of images. Avril was more than pleased with the final result. And, her website is almost complete!

About the Photographs

If you read the info above, you’ll recognize the real key to this photoshoot. It was the collaborative planning that came out of Avril’s responses to the questions I sent her. It simply shined a light on what we needed to do and gave us ideas about how to do it. It’s such a valuable step but it’s often overlooked in the rush to get right to the photography.

As my friend Chris Harris pointed out when he saw these, the process is also valuable for any type of photography, whether collaborative or individual. Planning a photo shoot for yourself? It could be any kind of shoot, from landscape, to macro to abstract. Here are a few questions to guide your preparation:

  • what feeling do you want to capture?
  • what are some words or ideas you want to convey?
  • what subject, location, time of day, lighting condition will help?
  • what style of photography will be most suited for your idea?

All of these questions lead us to an important concept in our photography: previsualization. Before your next shoot, take some time to consider the questions above, look at some photos from the area and previsualize what you want to create. No need to stop when you’ve pre visualized one image, try to come up with a couple more variations. Then, when you get to the shoot, you’ll be primed and ready. And, most likely, these will lead you to new ideas you hadn’t thought of.

When Chris and I teach our Develop Your Creative Vision workshops, this is a strategy we teach our clients, along with a comprehensive list of ideas to try. It expands your creative possibilities.

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