How NOT to Enquire About a Brand Photoshoot

woman holding macbook

May 10, 2024

I use some third-party platforms to expand my reach, and I noticed some common patterns among the requests that come through from people asking for a brand photoshoot. I’m invested in people’s success, especially women and especially women entrepreneurs. After all, we are going against everything that people ever taught us. Which is why this needs to be called out.

These platforms have standard forms asking for specifics like the type and number of photos you want, which, in truth, I disagree with. Part of how I work is to give you as many images as viable for the time we work together, which is determined by what your business needs. A brand photoshoot has to be about the brand.

However, I don’t provide pricing on proposal from a place of being a guru and only being the one who can tell what the client needs. The client should not be giving away their power by asking the photographer to spoon-feed them the whole process. When I see people who don’t know what to ask for, it tells me that they have not truly thought through why they need a brand photoshoot.

Why a brand photoshoot

I’ll always advocate getting photoshoots “just because” if you think it’s a fun experience, but if you are after a brand photoshoot then you are investing capital towards a business expense that is part of your overall marketing strategy.

woman holding macbook

A marketing strategy has a goal. It could be a broad goal like increasing brand awareness, or a very specific one targeted at bringing people into a sales funnel. Ultimately, as a business, your goal is to make a profit. All decisions you make as a business are predicated on this.

Sounds basic and patronising? Good, you’re likely not someone who needs to hear what I’m talking about today and whomever you choose to hire for your brand photography has got themselves a soul client (nudge nudge wink wink, I have openings from the 3rd week of May onwards).

Website Visuals

The most common need for brand photography is images to populate your website. If you have one, or are in the process of building one, you should have an idea of how many images you need because you should have an idea of what your website looks like. Or you can ask the person building it.

To say you need photos for your website but don’t know how many you need is absurd. How many pages will you have? Do you have some high quality stock photography you’re planning to use or will you have branded filler images? If I sold packages with numbered images I would not have a way to predict that for you without asking you these questions, and delaying the process with a needless back and forth negotiating the scope of the project.

PR images

Another common need is the good old fashioned headshots. If you just want a handful of images to make your online branding or the bios in your appearances and byline more professional you don’t really need a brand photoshoot. You can get any old portrait photographer, and many specialise in headshots and will come up on Google as such. A tip from a former theatre girlie, those who work with actors are good with creating different vibes depending on the kind of characters the actors desire to be cast for instead of just having the robotic LinkedIn face of those who specialise in corporate.

coconut trees on brown sand

Side note: many thanks to Rachel Pearson for kindly pointing out to me that I never talk about those days even though I have the skills and the approach of a theatre director in how I create the experience of a photoshoot.

When thinking about hiring a photographer think about what you need the images for, and let that goal inform the kind of images (and the number of them) that you are seeking.

But what if I truly don’t know?

If you truly don’t know, then you aren’t ready for a brand photoshoot. This isn’t to shame you, but to invite you to look at how you can get clear about the scope of what you could benefit from as a brand. This is why I offer consulting services like brand audits, and launching soon a self-paced course about gaining clarity in your brand and creating a brand strategy.

There is also a key energetic piece that I wish to highlight, namely whether you are truly desiring a brand photoshoot from a place of aligned action, or you are doing what you believe you should do to be successful or prove your worth and professional credential out of fear of looking amateurish.

My advice to you as you prepare to enquire a brand photoshoot is to think through the reason why you want a photoshoot and you want it now, divest it from all the emotional meanings we attach to it, and then look at how it fits within your broader marketing strategy.

And if you don’t have one yet, that’s the foundational piece you are missing. Because when you have clarity about your marketing strategy, the questions of what kind of photos you need, where to take them, and how many will answer themselves.

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The character Amy Sherman-Palladino would write in a series about a traveling witchy photographer obsessed with Hakuoki
Currently in: London 🇬🇧
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