How to plan a marketing photo shoot for your business

Updated: Mar 14, 2020

Longing to stand out in a sea of other same-same stylish businesses? Want your customers to experience love at first sight when they see your beautiful products and offerings?

As a marketing pro and a former designer of a bridal magazine, I know that when it comes to marketing your business, you need to make sure your branding is unique and eye-catching.

A simple solution?

Don’t settle for using standard supplier images — create your own image bank that you can multi-task across social media and marketing!

“But I’m not a photographer! How am I meant to do that?!”

Don’t worry, you don’t need any photography skills to make your image bank a reality. Instead, why not plan your own professional photo shoot? This way you can match your style to suit your branding to ensure your aesthetics are cohesive and that you’ll get the most out of your images.

So, where do you start?

Good question. I’ve helped organise and manage many photo shoots, which means I know just how to ensure yours is pure smooth sailing from ‘go’ to “whoa these images are awesome!”

Whether you have a product or fashion range, this guide will help you plan and execute a professional shoot (both small scale or large) and give your business a visual edge on your competitors.

How to plan your own stylish photo shoot 

Do the research. 

Your first step is to figure out what you like and the kind of theme/style you’re going for. To begin with, I recommend creating a Pinterest board to gather inspiration.  Then print out your images and create a physical moodboard.

Book a photographer. 

Now, you could ask a friend for help … but I really do recommend hiring a professional. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to fork out thousands, if a photographer is out of the budget, you might find one who will be willing to trade services and be happy to be credited with all of the images used instead.

Make sure you organise your photographer first though, because they might have some locations in mind, or they might know of some models that would suit your project.

Lock in your location and date. 

Now that you have a theme and a photographer, it’s time to make it real! Ask your photographer for their availability and then schedule in a location and date that works for everyone. If you can, check long-range weather forecasts and have a wet weather location option up your sleeve just in case.

Organise models. 

You’ve got the stylish goods, now you just need somebody to wear them! But it’s not like you have the budget to hire Miranda Kerr, right? Well, here’s an insider secret: if you have a tight budget I have found aspiring models are happy to give up a day and do it for free if they can receive a copy of the images for their portfolio. Just okay this with your photographer.

Then make sure your models are available on your photo shoot date. In my experience this is actually one of the hardest parts to organize so ALWAYS have a back up plan and someone you can call on last minute if needed. A model could pull out on the day and then your shoot is over.

Organise hair and makeup. 

You can ask your photographer and/or model(s) if they have any preferred hair and makeup peeps, otherwise check out Instagram for inspiration and recommendations. Show them your moodboard and see if their style matches yours. No matter whom you choose, make sure you book them in for as early as possible the morning of the shoot. If you have multiple models it might even be easier if you get hair and make up done on location.

Plan your photo shoot strategy. 

Determine the product(s) you need shot, the photo set ups you’d like, your pose and background preferences and your styling options. Then visit your location (with your photographer if possible) ahead of time so you can plan shot set ups and locations. I’d also recommend taking photos while you’re there so that you have something to review later in your planning.

All of this information will contribute to your running sheet (which tells everyone the schedule and plan for the day).

Fit the models. 

At least a week before your shoot, get your models to try on your clothing and/or products. Record their sizes and details and keep this information in a safe place so you can pack the right stuff on the day.

Organise any additional services or items you need to source. 

If you’re hiring a stylist, now is the time to liaise with them and organise any accessories or items you’ll need. Otherwise, keep track of your jewellery, flowers and other styling items so you know what to bring and what goes where.

Finalise your running sheet. 

As I mentioned earlier, your running sheet is a plan of the whole day, from locations through to timings and the clothing to be worn for each shot. I like to include a small photo taken with my phone of each shot’s clothing and styling. Also, make sure you include contact numbers for each of the photo shoot participants and then send this to everyone involved so they know how the day will run.

Order catering + pick up supplies. 

If your shoot will run for the whole day, it’s a good idea (and a nice thing to do) to order some catering and a light lunch like sandwiches and nibbles. Make sure you bring an esky with water if you’re out on location too. You’ll also want to bring some drop sheets in case you need to protect items (I like to purchase clear plastic painters drop sheets from Bunnings) and some bulldog clips and pins for clothing that doesn’t fit properly.

What to do on the day. 

Make sure you bring your inspo/moodboard and print an extra copy for the photographer and models so everyone can see what you’re trying to achieve.

Pay attention to the details. If you are photographing clothing make sure it is sitting right and everything is in the right place for each shot.

Things can get hectic if you are running a large shoot so try to stick to the running sheet and keep things moving. And don’t panic if things don’t go according to plan, it will work out in the end. Promise!

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