Have you ever come across branding photos that were meant to feel “BTS” but that were so clearly staged that it’s almost awkward?
Bonjour, je m’appelle Abby, and I’ve shot a lot of those kinds of photos in my life :).
I’m the girl who wore an updo and a LBD for my head shots a few years ago, despite the fact that you won’t ever find me in that sort of get-up in real life. See below… I have zero idea why I thought that would make sense.
I’m the photographer who once spent an entire afternoon shooting flat lays for a client who didn’t need flat lay content.
Oh, and I’m also the person who decided that my laid-back, yoga-pants-and-t-shirts client Natalie should wear a Banana Republic business dress for photos of her working at her desk. #soauthentic
When it comes to overstyling your clients (or heck, yourself), I’ve been there. I’ve done that.
Here’s the thing: your audience can see through the façade of “oh my gosh, whaaat? There’s a camera here? I had no idea!”
**Laughs adorably at the camera while tucking hair behind the ear.**
It’s not believable. It isn’t real.
>> And when we over-style and over-pose and over-manufacture our clients’ branding photographs, we turn what SHOULD have been a chance to connect with their ideal audience into unbelievable, Pinterest-perfect boredom that get lost in the scroll of allllll the other over-styled, over-posed, over-manufactured images flooding the market right now. <<
Don’t get me wrong- I’m not advocating that you not zhuzh your set and style your clients- but I AM saying that as we zhuzh and style, that we keep in mind that perfection isn’t necessarily the goal here.
So real quick, here’s how you can quit the overstyling game in favor of brand photos that help your clients connect with their dreamies:
1. Intentional mess- if your goal is to photograph your client in their natural environment, let’s make it feel NATURAL. Leave the pen cup on the desk and the sticky notes on the wall- clean it up enough to feel professional, but not so much that it feels like you’re on a commercial set.
2. Use the client’s actual tools. Resist the urge to go out and buy a bunch of matchy matchy acrylic and gold office supplies from Target.
3. Ask “How/where would you _____ in real life if I weren’t here?” How would you sit, where would you stand, where would your notebook be placed… this one question makes all the difference in the world!
4. Shoot your clients’ stories in an appropriate environment. This is a big one- if your client doesn’t often work outdoors, it’s probably best not to stage a bunch of photographs of them on a laptop sitting on the grass. On the other hand, if your client loves heading to the backyard and reading in their hammock? Do it! Wherever you shoot, just make sure it feels honest- if you’re a wedding or portrait photographer, it’s been drilled into your mind that natural light is best. And I LOVE me some natural light, too- but if moving your client to wherever the best light is results in photos that feel forced and/or inauthentic, find another solution!
Say it with me: practical over perfect.
You can do this, friend!