PROFILE PICS How To Work With A Photographer

how to direct your own shoot Erika Brechtel

To effectively promote your company and your brand, it’s often necessary to have professional shots of…YOU (cue panic attack!). In this instance, a professional photographer can help immensely to guide you through this new and nerve-wracking experience. But coordinating your first photo shoot can be overwhelming and frankly, terrifying for many. Here are a few tips to set you up and get you through naturally what may feel totally unnatural.

THE GOAL

Ideally, you want to end up with 2-3 images that you’ll use everywhere (your website, social media, and press) for at least a year to help establish brand recognition. An additional five or so are great to have on hand for variety.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Start with looking around at your competitors to get a sense of the type of photos they’re using. Take note of what you like and don’t like. Then explore brands and people that you admire, and really think about particular adjectives you would use to describe what’s working for you.

CREATE A PINBOARD

I recommend this exercise for all of my clients before we start a project. You want to create a vision board for the look and feel you’re going for — the process of curating and self-editing a board will help you get really clear about a specific direction. Not only look for that overall concept, but pay attention to details such as poses, attitude, location, time of day, lighting and wardrobe. (Be sure to include your thoughts in the captions too.)

Don’t know where to even begin? It helps to search for your muses first, check out what they’re doing. For example, in my board below, I looked up my three muses Kelly Wearstler, Emmanuelle Alt and Kate Moss. Each woman has a slightly different approach but I was able to find my comfort level within this range. My adjectives ended up being words like effortless, relaxed, approachable, sophisticated, soft, naturally lit.

Tip: Create a pinboard to establish look & feel, attitude, wardrobe, potential poses
Tip: Create a pinboard to establish look & feel, attitude, wardrobe, & potential poses.

WORK OUT THE DETAILS

Definitely send your board to your photographer, then work out the location and the time of day to shoot. You shouldn’t need more than two hours if you’re in one general location. Are you shooting indoors or out? Natural light or studio light? What kind of props will be needed? (Bring a few jackets, they’re the easiest way to totally change up your look.)

MAKE A SHOT LIST

Before going into a shoot, it’s important to have a list of the shots you want to be sure to take. Mainly think about the end usage of the images — will they be on a website (often best horizontal) and/or press (many publications prefer vertical)? Do you need copy space, as in, should you be off to the side to allow for overlaid text if necessary (for a promotion, for example)? Are you looking for just headshots, or would you need full-body images as well? Who is the intended audience and what do they need/expect to see? Again, be sure to share this with your photographer prior to the shoot, as he/she may have additional questions to help refine this list.

how to direct your own shoot tips Erika Brechtel
Tip: Make small moves, and channel your muses.

DURING THE SHOOT

Make it one-on-one if possible:
I would recommend against having anyone extra there that doesn’t need to be. That way you can really let loose without feeling like everyone is watching you (read: “judging” you). Shooting outside? Trust me, nobody cares or pays much attention these days. Go ahead and work it!

Channel those muses!
Reference your board and even mimic certain poses and smiles if it’s helpful. Definitely have your muses in your head to help you exude that personna.

Make small moves:
Your photographer is going to take HUNDREDS of shots (and most likely, will not share them with you during the shoot). So I would recommend that you do small changes while working within a certain area — slightly tilt the head down or to the side, slightly move your hands, slightly change up your smile. You never know what angle is going to work for you.

Mix candid shots with shots looking at the camera:
To get the most bang for your buck, mix in candid shots — looking off in the distance, down at your desk, laughing at some invisible person off to the side. These more “lifestyle”-like images are great to mix in with your professional, LinkedIn-ready shots for a well-rounded set.

Surprise yourself!
Get silly, get sexy, jump around, throw your hands in the air and wave them like you just don’t care. Just give it ALL a shot. Why not? I often find it’s the unexpected shots that work best.

Bottom line, you’re going to be nervous, guaranteed. But as you get into it, you’ll loosen up. And if you’re still struggling, just think to yourself, this is for the success of my business…I’ve gotta bring it!

Above all, have fun!

xoxo

xoxo-EB

Photos by Jennifer Daigle 

Erika Brechtel

Creative Director

Desiring an online space to explore well-rounded, inspired content in all topics she loves most, Erika created 'The E List' (formerly the Small Shop blog) in 2010. When not enjoying an “occasional" glass of wine and wanderlusting for even warmer climates, Erika can be found sharing laughs with friends and family, and trying her very best to keep up with her 6-year old daughter (yet failing miserably).

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