Whether you are working on building your first/new website or just refreshing your professional photos on your socials, you might have come to the conclusion that you need a professional photo shoot.
Of course, the best solution is to hire a stylist that knows exactly what you need and has the right collaborations (photographer, makeup artist, hairdresser) in hand, but it’s also a good idea to learn by yourself some of the most important steps that will make this effort worthwhile.
First of all, you should know that it’s not a spontaneous initiative, but a project whose every detail counts and must be taken care accordingly. I’m not saying you have to repress your spontaneity, you will just have to use it as a … bonus, after having everything properly organized.
Let's see what "properly organized" means:
1) Take a step back and make an AESTHETIC SELF KNOWLEDGE analysis:
do you know which colors suit you best ? (see about the Color Analysis here)
do you know which shapes suit best your body and your face? (see about the Shapes Analysis here)
If so, this will help you choose the perfect outfit and makeup for the photo shoot,
but most of all it represents a very important step in your aesthetic evolution, of your everyday life.
2) Make sure you will have the proper MAKEUP:
Excepting the case in which you are building a personal brand in show biz (or the drag queen) field, your makeup should be a natural one, with accent on the eyes, not on the mouth. The explanation? Well, the eyes are windows into the brain, while the mouth is symbol of sensuality. As a personal brand, you are selling your professional abilities, not the sex-appealing ones (I hope).
If the photo shooting will be indoor, with the specific powerful lights, make sure your MUA (make-up-artist) knows it and provides the proper make up for this kind of environment (expect less natural, but trust me, under those lights you need a supplementary layer of foundation).
If you decide to do both (indoor and outdoor), you might want to begin with the outdoor with a natural makeup and continue afterwards with the indoor one (your MUA will enhance it for the second part).
Don’t forget your beauty case at home: you might need to refresh your lipstick (if your MUA will not be there with you), comb your hair or even ... brush your teeth (photo shootings can overlap lunch time, do you really want to risk displaying a "parsley-smile" on your big day?).
3) Your CLOTHES must respect a few rules:
Choose colors that suit your complexion, making you look your best, but also pay attention to their symbolism. They have to express your main super-power (Energy: orange, Empathy: pink, Empowerment: red etc.) and/or send the right message to the viewers’ subconscious ( blue: Credibility, black: Authority, violet: Luxury etc).
Choose clothes shaped to suit your body, but also having a specific visual impact (a “power shoulders” blazer has definitely a different message than a ...poncho).
Choose clothes compatible with your business field: You work in finance? -Blazer; You organize events for kids? -Casual and colorful; You are a florist? -you can also wear a romantic, flowery dress etc.
do NOT wear your outfit before arriving at the location ! a taxi ride might ruin a well ironed dress and the professional camera sees every wrinkle on it. Whether it’s just one outfit or ten, they all have to be transported on a coat hanger, inside a coat protecting bag.
4) Don't forget about ACCESSORIES:
medium high heels on a classic decolletè is recommended, but of course it depends on your profession: vertiginous heels might work also if you are in show biz; flats - if your job is to take care of small children.
a watch, small jewelry and a fresh neutral colored manicure if you are a classic business professional; big accessories and neon colored manicure only when they suit your creative job (e.g. fashion jobs).
5) Come up with some symbolic PROPS (the objects around you in the picture):
Bring, in addition to your favorite agenda, books, pen and, of course, your laptop, any object that can help promote you and your work: a photo moodboard with your happy clients, specific tools (think about the tailor pictured with his tailoring meter), but also objects that represent your hobbies. Make sure in advance that everybody knows their responsibilities (who provides what).
Make sure your studio photos will benefit of a proper set. If you cannot ask the photographer to come to your office, the office “built” in his studio has to be really convincing: every angle counts, as the camera is ruthless. If it’s too empty around you, it will have a fake aura, that will not convince the viewer. Yes, we know it’s just a photoshoot and you’re a real professional figure, but still… let's not risk to ruin first impression (it is decided by the viewer' subconscious, that always jumps to conclusions).
Remember that all props are there to put you in a good light, not to steal your thunder: if you insist for a certain favorite painting to be placed near or behind you, make sure is not too colored or too impressing, it might overshadow you.
Give a hand in checking the set: even if this is the fashion stylist’s or/and the photographer’s job, if you have a thing for details, you're welcome, hop in: plugs, cables, or other objects that are not supposed to be in the picture - it's better to eliminate it at the beginning and not in the editing phase.
6) The LOCATION will be your pictures' frame, so give it a serious thought:
You have taken the big step of organizing your personal photo shoot, then make the most of it: don’t limit it to one location (the office).
If your services take place also in your clients' office/home, a few pictures there would be the ideal way to exemplify your work.
Remember that your personal brand is more than your business, it is also …personal. Today, the long process that leads to the purchase begins with people wanting to feel they know you, in (almost) all aspects of your life: your values (pictures!), your hobbies (pictures!), your lifestyle (pictures!). So, in addition to shooting the office pictures, go outside and have a picture smelling a flower (value: nature), running (hobby), playing with your dog (lifestyle).
...Of course, every location needs a proper outfit: yes, you are allowed to wear jeans and t-shirt if you are business consultant, if the picture speaks about your hobbies (or about Casual Friday in your office).
7) Your BODY LANGUAGE is a very important matter:
Don’t forget to smile (yes, for some people this is something that has to be mentioned, it doesn’t come by default). A natural, honest smile is the one that involves not even the lips but also the eyes (the "duchenne" smile). This is the only kind of smile that inspires self confidence, credibility, authority. (Don’t show all your teeth though, it’s not a dentist appointment).
Adopt a relaxed pose (but not the home-couch type one), with your hands in sight - it conveys a positive, non-threatening message to the viewers' subconscious.
You can sit at your desk, stand near your library etc., anything extracted from your real everyday work.
Avoid the “tourist pose” (straight as a pole); instead, try a “slow-motion-movement” ("movement", because is more natural; "slow motion" because otherwise the camera cannot focus).
Last but not least, as your shooting might be scheduled in a day that maybe hasn’t begun very well, you might want to gather some positive energy before “entering the scene”: try five minutes of meditation or at least one minute of “power posing” (standing, place your legs rather wide, put your hands on your hips and lift your head proudly - the "Wonder Woman" pose). Based on the already scientifically proved interconnection between body and mind, simply adopting a positive posture will improve your state of mind. It will increase your energy level, confidence and self-esteem and is a great way to prepare to enter a room full of strangers or, in your case, begin a photo shooting session.
Good luck, I wish you fabulous photos! ...and give me a call if you need a hand :-)