I see you. The business owner sitting in your office in the midst of this insane time, realizing that you still need to market your services, but you’re coming up short in the photo department. You’re desperate to connect with your audience in a way that feels organic, but you’ve exhausted your supply of stock photos and with all the restrictions in place, you have no way to connect with your favorite brand photographer for new content.
I’ve got you covered!
Under the best of circumstances, I know that hiring a skilled branding photographer isn’t in everyone’s budget in the first couple of years of business ownership. But especially when you factor in the present circumstances, these are the times when people start getting REALLY creative on how they meet their business’s needs! The phrase “DIY” isn’t one you’ll often hear coming out of my mouth, but now, more than ever, folks are desperate for content they can create themselves, and that costs little to nothing to create. So let’s get to it!
A few notes on technique, before we dive in-
First things first- find yourself some clean, NATURAL LIGHT. Outdoors, by a big window, on a porch, wherever. We’re looking for natural light from the sky, and we’re going to turn off all other light sources. If you’re inside by a big window, turn off the lamp on the side table across the room. Trust me on this one! Light takes on different colors (“temperature” if you want to get technical), and if you have blue light coming from the window and yellow light from a tungsten bulb across the room, it will taint your shadows with icky yellow tones. We want consistent, clean light.
Secondly, if you’re shooting next to a window, you’ll notice you have pretty deep shadows on whatever item/person you’re shooting. This is easily helped with a reflector! It doesn’t need to be an official one like photographers use, you can simply grab any solid white surface- a pillow, a white foam-core board, even a plain white sheet of paper works when shooting small items. If you have someone else at home, you could ask them to hold up a white bedsheet!
Thirdly, while I would obviously advocate for using a “real” camera, if you don’t have access to one, an iPhone + Portrait Mode can do the trick nicely. Pair those photos with the Light & Airy or Veil Presets for iPhone and you’ve got yourself some great content for social media! Just make sure you’re shooting in ample light.
Last thing- if you’re shooting these alone, three of these will require a camera with either a self-timer or a remote trigger. If you don’t have a tripod, don’t sweat- use a stool, a stack of large books, whatever you’ve got!
Photo #1: A flat-lay of your tools, or a few on-brand items.
I take these all the time when I have a few shots left on a roll of film after a wedding! These are super easy to do with items from around your office- any desk accessories, tools you use on a regular basis, fresh flowers from your dining room table, even items from your purse. Do you have any printed collateral or branded stationery that you send out to clients? What about cute tchotchkes around your home, or something fun you bought on your travels? What about sample albums, test prints, or mock-ups? How about that latest magazine your work was featured in?
Use a clean, solid background- if you’ve got a styling surface, that’s perfect. But a white poster board also does the trick- it’s what I used for the background of these next three photos!
Pro tip- leaving negative space in the middle allows you to use photos like the one below on website headers, slide decks, and anywhere else you need to overlay text!
Photo #2: A headshot.
Yep- I, the branding photographer, am suggesting that you take your own new headshot if you don’t have one already. Having the same (or a similar) recognizable headshot across your social platforms, email signature, and About page creates brand consistency- the BEST example of I can think of for this is Katelyn James. Whenever Katelyn changes her About photo, she changes it EVERYWHERE. This means that when her bio photo pops up on a conference page of Keynote speakers, her followers have NO trouble knowing it’s her! Consistency leads to recognizability, and when we show up for and serve our audiences regularly, that recognizability engenders TRUST.
Tips for your head shot-
Photo #3: You at your desk/in your work space
Gather a few of the tools/office tchotchkes you used for your flat lays and set yourself up at your desk or on the floor. Having a tripod for this one is really helpful, as you may want to shoot at an angle other than directly straight on, especially if you’re sitting on the floor. Interact with your environment in some way- reach for a notebook, jot something down in your planner, rub your pup’s belly- whatever it takes to keep the shot from feeling static and stiff!
(Gosh, this is an oldie… but I haven’t outgrown the love of red lipstick and chambray!)
Photo #4: The vignette
These are some of my favorites! Vignettes are how I capture my branding clients’ environment in a way that helps to subtly illustrate their brand without being too literal. Are there little corners in your office or home you can style with on-brand items in a way that feels organic? Try and choose items that either your audience already associates with you (like Ashlyn Carter’s pointe shoes pointing to her years in the ballet studio) or that you WANT them to associate with you. Maybe you have a passion for watercoloring- pull your palette, brushes, and a glass of paint water, staggering the height of each item to keep it visually interesting.
Photo #5:The announcement photo
This one’s always fun- whether you’re having a surprise sale on prints, there’s personal good news to share (like this one!), or a business’s birthday to celebrate, taking your own “WOOHOO!” photo is easy with the use of a tripod + trigger! My advice on a shot like the one below- make sure you get your composition + posing figured out BEFORE you light the candles so you don’t miss your short window of opportunity!
I can’t wait to see what you create! If you find that you need more help on shooting self-portraits and want a step-by-step tutorial of how I captured these and all my other self-portraits, check out the brand new Self-Portrait Guide!